A feminist is a person, male or female; feminism is an ideology, and being an ‘ism’, it shares the collective limitation of all ‘isms’ (capitalism, socialism, communism, humanism, radicalism, lesbianism, constitutionalism, etc.). And what is this collective limitation, one may ask. It is this: they are at best half-baked and at worst badly-baked ideologies; they stretch their ideals to the limits in the process of which touch with real life is sometimes lost. For instance, while capitalism prefers profit to human welfare, communism prefers human welfare to industry; neither of capitalism and communism is very correct. Of course, we’re working with capitalism because it is, in more ways than one, the lesser evil.
I’m a fan of Chimamanda’s. I like the fact that she’s a feminist and sticks her neck out to trumpeting why she thinks the existing gender structure is fraught with more negatives than positives. She first bought my admiration by her “Danger of the single story” (TED talk), which UNN’s Lionfm played every other morning of my Nsukka days. I especially enjoyed her 2015 graduation speech at Wellesley College in the US and her “Why we should all be Feminists” (TED talk). Her books – Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah – are even some of the finest books on the planet, and a budding writer like me should like her for her ‘wordsworth.’ However, Ms Adichie isn’t responsible for my feminist bent; she didn’t influence me that far. I only came to discover that we share similar views on gender and social engineering. And if you insist that a feminist must profess feminism, then we both belong to a feminism type that is unique to us: we don’t fight about it; we merely state the obvious and leave the rest to ‘your’ reason.
I became a feminist watching my mother, interacting with the women in my personal space, observing the generality of women, studying philosophy and coming out different. I became a feminist when my sense of justice, right and wrong developed. And when it did develop, some things just didn’t make sense anymore. There were things I couldn’t tolerate anymore about this whole gender stereotyping. Why on earth, for instance, should my dear sister be inferior to me – in any sense – because she is feminine? Why on earth “must” a man have something when there is a woman that could make a better delivery of the role? Why, why & why? I’m not saying this because I want to win the admiration of concerned women, but because I quite don’t get it! I don’t even understand St. Paul instructing Timothy to have women ‘shut up’ in church.
I’m a feminist because I believe in the equal access to opportunities and prestige by men and women. I’m a feminist because I believe everyone should be more merit-oriented than chauvinistic; meritocracy has remained a core value of worthy organizations. I’m a feminist because I believe in the democratization of service; everyone should serve. I’m a feminist because I need my lady-friends to be the very best of themselves and not be limited by anything artificial that goes under the aegis of ‘gender roles’. I’m a feminist for every good reason that you can think of. Yes, I preach ‘complementarity’ and decry ‘subjugation’.
Don’t get it twisted. I know enough about social engineering. I know that there ought to be some sort of roles, functions and ideals in order to achieve social order, leading to collective progress. But I also know that those that sat at table to decide the present structure didn’t mean well enough for the collective lot. If you know what Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, is, especially its four types corresponding to levels of intensity, then you’ll agree with me that that idea came from the pit of hell.
On my part, I really can’t think much of a man who dares says to a lady, “C’mon keep quiet and sit down, you’re ‘just’ a woman?” What is ‘just’ about being a woman when my very own angel mother is one? I blame the lady too who would dare open her mouth and say, “Don’t you know I’m a lady?” Am I blind? Even a blind man knows you’re a lady by the electric charges you fire at him. I especially blame the custodians of the perpetration of gender inequality who succeeded in making her think so.
Mind you, the husband is not superior to his wife in any sense; he’s only “primus inter pares” – first among equals. He is not first by right but by privilege. And the problem with every privilege is that it has the capacity to blind – and has blinded many a man. I pray for us men, that we may regain our sight, and that we may see what the future of gender struggles holds for us. Yes, it’s such a struggle where everyone gets to lose. Someone said it best: “In a family fight… there is no real winner as the entire family is the ultimate loser.”
I hate feminism, at least as we experience it in practice, for one reason: It seeks revenge instead of redress.