11 May 2017

I am a Feminist

I am male. African. I am a feminist. And there is nothing wrong with me.

I am not interested in a war of the sexes. Not even vaguely. I am not a traitor either. I have no ambition to emasculate men. My journey into feminism began with the desire to fight the injustice of women subjugation and oppression. And I take the view, very strongly so, that men must be at the forefront of this fight.

Firstly I must say that while I believe in equality, I am equally aware that the two sexes are different, be it in terms of anatomy, physiology and emotions. In my view, we are equal but not the same. Because we are different, I accept that there are things that women can do that men can’t, and vice versa. For example it would be ludicrous to suggest that a man can carry a child for nine months. I therefore approach my feminism with clear heads and wide-open eyes. Also, for me, feminism isn't a fad, or a passing fancy to be embraced. I come into it from a deep and well-thought-out conviction that just as it is unacceptable for one people-group to dominate another because of different skin colours, it should also be morally reprehensible that a difference in anatomy or physical strength should be reasons for centuries-old subjugation.

I accept that many would argue that culture and tradition play a huge role in determining what is acceptable. I can see their point. But only to an extent; because culture and tradition, as we all know, is not always sourced from fairness, but often, self-preservation. For example, it took over 400 years to eradicate slavery in the United Kingdom, not because of want of trying by the likes of William Wilberforce who presented the abolition bill for 19 consecutive years, but because those who supported the evil trade justified it on the basis of tradition, status quo and even religion. And they vigorously presented their views in the same way some men justify their misogynist ideology today. Come to think of it, it was tradition to kill twins in some parts of our country only a century ago. It was also tradition to bury the king with some of his servants, presumably so that they may serve him in the hereafter. Thankfully we have moved forward from these barbaric acts. So, culture or tradition is not enough, certainly to the extent that they are used to usurp the rights of more than half of human population.

So I am a feminist for the following reasons:

1.    Because all humans are born equal and have been given rights by God to live and fulfil their potential. What is wrong with this? Why should one gender feel the need to lord it over the other to fulfil its own potential?
2.     Because being a feminist to me simply means standing against injustices to women. I have witnessed too many of this in the name of religion, culture, tradition and societal norms. To stand aloof would be tantamount to collusion with perpetrators.
3.     Because being a feminist does not diminish in any way the fact that I am a man, any more than fighting for the rights of children make me less an adult.
4.    Because I believe men should be at the forefront of fighting for equality for women, particularly in Africa where misogyny is rife, and where women are routinely enslaved by their husbands, and his family.
5.    Because I believe it is the duty of those whom nature and society (rightly or wrongly) have placed in a privileged position to underwrite, preserve and protect the rights of others. I can’t deny that adult males have many privileges. These must be employed for the benefit of all people.
6.     Because I accept, that though men and women are not the same, we are equal. The rights of any woman should therefore not be trampled upon.
7.     Because the subjugation and ill treatment of women is the civil rights issue of our time.
8.     Because men, and women bring something to the table. Both are indispensable, and interdependent.
9.     Because I believe it is the right thing to do.
10.  I am a feminist today so that there would be no need for feminism tomorrow. What I do today will hopefully shape the future. 

No doubt, there would be raised eyebrows; others may turn their nose up “How can a man be a feminist?” “Is feminism not an attempt to change the status quo?” “Why contend against nature and tradition? My answer to all these questions is Why not! Do I have to be female to fight against injustices? Why not confront nature or tradition where either has been found wanting. Nature didn’t easily give us the ability to cook, travel across the globe, longevity and lightning communication. We confronted all these by making fire, designing air/ocean vessels, through medical advancement, and telecommunication. Humanity is still confronting nature everyday through technology, education and innovation. It has also confronted the evil traditions of slavery, ritual killings and the killing of twins. We certainly can and must slay the Goliath of ill-treating women. It is the right thing to do. It is what must be done. And that's why I choose to be a feminist. PostcardfromLagos