This is why I am not a feminist by Jite Efemuaye

This is why I am not a feminist by Jite Efemuaye

I am not a Feminist; not because I have anything against Feminists but because I’m ignorant of the subject matter. – Subomi Plumptre

And that, ladies and gentlemen is why I am not a feminist. I can end here, no?

How did I get here?  I was scrolling through facebook when I stumbled across Ms. Plumptre’s quote and it set me off.

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I have read the definitions of feminism, I have read up on the types of feminism, I have read articles by feminists, I have read counter-articles by feminists, I have listened to feminists speak about feminism, I have read articles bashing feminism, I have read feminists bashing patriarchy, I have had feminism explained to me many times, I know feminism isn’t restricted to just females (even though the root word is ‘feminine’); have I confused you yet? Because that is how I feel. Confused. Ignorant. When the topic comes up I keep quiet and let the real feminists talk about it.

Funny enough, I am called feminist more than any of my other female friends. It seems for a majority of people being single, having a career, refusing to hunker down and being outspoken about certain topics makes you a feminist.

“Not everyone feels their identity represented in the labels. Do labels have value? Perhaps.” – Elnathan John

The above part of a tweet by Elnathan John explains exactly how I feel. I am a woman, yes. That is the identity I accept and live.

I know that women are marginalized and treated as second class citizens, but it has never been my reality. Maybe it has to do with my upbringing and the fact that I grew up around strong women. I have never felt the need to take my ‘power’ back; I never felt like it was taken from me.

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around having to prove my worth because I am a woman. No one ever told me “A girl shouldn’t…” or “You can’t do this because you’re a girl,” or maybe they did and I wasn’t paying attention.

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Looking back now I realize how many experiences I had that I could have blamed on the fact that I am a woman. For instance I worked in a print press for a while as graphic artist and then as manager. I can’t count how many times clients would come in and ask for the manager and when they were directed to me they’d insist on seeing my boss. I always believed it was because most people knew my former boss (or knew of him) and as such weren’t trusting of anyone else. I never bothered about proving to them I could deliver, I just did my job and I never lost a client.

Back to the roots. There was no chore distinction when I was growing up. My brother swept the house, I fetched water. We both had our sections in our mother’s shop we were responsible for displaying wares and taking them back in at the end of the day. I had an affinity for fixing things so it was a normal sight to see me with a faulty toy in pieces beside me as I tried to figure out what went where. No one ever made it seem like I was doing something special. It was just how it was.  I was never made to stay by my mum when she was cooking; I did, but it was only so I could taste the food for her. My brother cooks way better than me.

I don’t think a woman has to get married to be complete. It wasn’t a discovery for me. I just knew. Women inherit property in my village, they have a voice at family meetings, they are a part of the decision making process. I mean, when I was young, my aunt had her husband locked up by the police for not pulling his weight financially.

I don’t understand adults that talk down on women because in my head, no sensible person would think men are superior. My brain cells have overtime with this one.

Feminism should be easy. “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.”

I don’t have to fight for equal rights for myself. But there are others who don’t have the benefit of my background.  And those women need my voice and my action. I give it.

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