Leading Woman

Feminism: views on what it is and what it is not

by Kemi Ajumobi

June 22, 2018 | 10:45 am
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‘I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity’

Chimamanda Adichie

Novelist, writer

We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.

We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think.

Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.

I looked the word up in the dictionary, it said: Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. My great-grandmother, from stories I’ve heard, was a feminist. She ran away from the house of the man she did not want to marry and married the man of her choice. She refused, protested, spoke up when she felt she was being deprived of land and access because she was female. She did not know that word feminist. But it doesn’t mean she wasn’t one. More of us should reclaim that word. The best feminist I know is my brother Kene, who is also a kind, good-looking, and very masculine young man. My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.

I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.

My own definition is, a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.

My Feminism

Ini Abimbola

Lead Consultant/CEO, ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited

First is the general definition of Feminism. Feminism is defined as the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Feminist activism is the struggle for that equality.

What do I understand Feminism to be:

My feminism is not about being an angry, bitter woman, trying to erase male culture and villainize men. My feminism does not hate men but I see men as partners in engaging the discourse around gender equality.

My feminism says I am a human being first and therefore I have a right to be socially, politically and economically equal to the next human being who might be a man. I will also respect the dynamics that comes with a marriage, where there is a man and a woman, understanding that marriage is a partnership and not a hierarchy.

My feminism is about inclusivity. It’s about not being forced into any roles you don’t want to have, but about having the choice to follow them or not follow them as you see fit.

My feminism says; stop shutting down female voices because they are female and elevating male voices just because they are men. If 10 men are at the table making our laws and speaking on behalf of the entire population, let’s have 5 of that 10 be women, equal number on that table. Call it simplistic but let’s start from there. These are simply basic rights.

Feminism is about equal opportunities, be it social, political and economic, and not sameness. I do not want to be a man or act like a man to be seen to be equal to a man. I will not shun my femininity because I am a feminist. I see some “feminists” hide themselves when they get pregnant so people don’t ‘misunderstand’ their feminism. I think they have a problem deeper just asking for equality.

My feminism says that my son and daughter are both my children and one is not better than the other because of their gender. I will bring them up knowing they both can be whatever they decide to be irrespective of a penis or a vagina.

My feminism does not hate men but I see men as partners in engaging the discourse around gender equality. It is also not about playing the victim or acting all beaten up because I am a woman. My feminism is about standing out as much as my male counterparts and projecting my voice as strongly as is needed.

My feminism understands that culture feeds patriarchy where male dominance is accepted and positions of power and authority are held by men and considered superior; and therefore, I need to ensure that I do not in any form or practice encourage this long-standing system that we are born into and participate in, mostly unconsciously.

My feminism is not about inventing issues where there are none, like men should not hold the door open for women or men should also get pregnant or women can also be fathers and the like. From where I stand, these cheapen the conversations about feminism. Let’s focus on the issues that still make all the difference: women participation in politics and in the economy, gender pay gap, reproductive rights issues, intimate sexual violence, and women trafficking. These are more important issues.

Modern Day Feminism

Funke Kuti

CEO, FK Management Limited

“FEMINISM isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives their strength” – G.D Anderson.

During the last 6-7-year period, we’ve witnessed a new wave of feminism, known as the fourth wave that has brought significant media attention to a movement started in 1848. Taking to the streets in protest, hosting events, and bringing heightened awareness to the feminist movement using social media platforms and global reach, fourth wave feminism is a proactive approach to societal equality.

With the new attention being paid to feminism and its relevance in our world today, rampant misunderstandings have infiltrated communities everywhere. For me, here is a breakdown of what feminism is and is not:

What Feminism Is

It’s for everyone. Feminism is for more than women who are marginalized or paid less than their male counterparts; feminism is about shining light on injustices and groups of citizens that are set aside for their privileged counterparts. It’s about striking up conversations where conversation is needed.

Equality. Its allowing women have the flexibility and freedom to make their own decisions and the advocacy of their rights based on personal, economic political and social equality to men.

A movement for domestic and sexual violence. As part of the feminism platform, education on domestic and sexual violence is included for both men and women. Every day, thousands of people are hit, raped, molested, and assaulted around the world, left with nowhere to turn. Feminism is here to encourage discussion around these previously taboo topics.

Being accepting of all women. Feminism is not about forcing all women to go to college and secure CEO positions. Feminism is about supporting each and every woman to be who she wants to be. If that means she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, then that’s what she should be; free from judgment.

What Feminism Is Not

One-sided: Feminism is for every woman, man, or minority who has ever been discriminated against. Feminism is not this special, inclusive club that only a few women are allowed to join. Feminism is acknowledging that men, as well as women, are victims of sexual and domestic violence.

About who is preferred: It is not about being better or greater than men

Women hating men: Feminism by many standards is defined as equality for the sexes. It’s about equality for both genders, it is not about favouring one over the other; rather, it’s about empowering women to seize positions and roles in society that were previously unavailable to them.

Based on favouritism: Feminism is not about supporting one group or subset of people over another group. Feminism is about showing support and strength to every single individual.

An excuse to act with hostility: It is not an anger outlet or an excuse to belittle anyone. Feminism is a positive movement that is designed to encourage conversations, interactions and education between all people, with no room for hostility.

What You Need to Know

Overall, it’s important to understand that although feminism might imply it is solely for the advancement of women, in modern times, that includes any oppressed group or individual who is marginalized against. Built on positivity and support as opposed to hostility and exclusion, feminism is a modern day equality movement that is designed to better society for all, through a platform built on female empowerment.

Iman Sulaiman-Ibrahim

Co-Founder, The Beehive Initiative

The world has faced an epidemic gearing towards male dominance/gender inequality/patriarchy which has resulted in oppression and many other forms of abuse and societal problems. Hence the birth of FEMINISM.

Women constitute a very large number on earth, thereby generating the must problems and have the most needs. Therefore, women have the capacity to provide predominantly, the solutions to all of these problems.

There’s no doubt that from 2018 going forward, it is an era of movements supporting gender balance and equality. From the UN to many developed countries like Canada and to many great cities like London which have a theme “Behind every city there are Women”.

So what is Feminism?

Feminism is an act of being fully aware and comfortable, accepting and advocating for the roles a woman must play to shape the society perfectly.

Feminism is recognising and committing to the attainment of women’s political, economic, social and personal equality balance in every society.

Feminism also is the commitment and dedication to an equal and balanced education and professional opportunities for the female gender to close up the existing gap.

Finally, Feminism as far as today is concerned, is when a woman is confident in who she is and stands a firm resolve to push for what’s possible for every woman. By being fully aware of the gap in society when it comes to opportunities and acceptances for the female gender in nation building, development and strengthening communities.

 

Kemi Ajumobi

 


by Kemi Ajumobi

June 22, 2018 | 10:45 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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