Feminism is an issue we need to address.
Before I begin to explain why or how I suddenly realized I was a feminist, I should probably begin with what feminism is NOT.
- Feminism is NOT hatred of men.
There are, of course, several individual feminists that do hate men. Radical feminism is better defined by the term misandrism. A misandrist is really the female counterpart of a mysogynist (A person who hates women).
- Feminism is NOT about female superiority.
- Feminism is NOT equivalent to ‘Carry your own bags, then!’
What feminism is however, is a position that advocates gender equality and a removal of culturally-decided gender roles.
Recently, I was sitting in a classroom in the School of Business with a classmate. Just doing what I always do in the Business Block- work for Dr. Chuma [This time it was a 60-page research paper]. In my five-minute Facebook break, I happened to come across a Ted-x Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I turned to the guy next to me and said:
“I think I may be a feminist”
“I thought you wanted to get married!”
I sat in amazement. How could my statement equate to me not wanting to get married?
The term “Feminism” has become socialized to be synonymous with abhorrence of men. That view is 102% inaccurate.
Now I am in no way assuming that only women are restricted. We are living in a society that raises children to adhere to strict gender roles.
We tend to push our boys and girls into preformed boxes of what is deemed socially acceptable without taking the time to see if this is what really suits them. Their individual temperaments. Their individual personalities. Their individual preferences. As Adichie mentioned, gender roles and expectations prescribe how we should be , rather than recognizing how we are.
Men can be victims of the constrains of ‘masculinity’.
However, as Chimamanda Adichie expressed:
“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”.
On more than one occasion, I would allude to my belief that sexism was still apparent in the world (and The Caribbean) and that we should do our best to get rid of it. And, on more than one occasion, a indignant guy would say:
Oh you want to be equal? Carry your own bags then!
Why do we have such a narrow-minded view of equality? When were we taught that wanting equality is the same as wanting to be self-sufficient? Or that wanting equality is wanting to be independent of men?
(By the way, a guy is generally physically stronger than a girl. That is how he is biologically designed. Why shouldn’t he carry the heavier load?)
Salma Hayez (Ziva to my NCIS fans) once said, “[Feminism] means being proud of being a woman, and [having] love, respect and admiration and the belief in our strong capacities.”
And this is what I was taught as a child. I was taught that I was important. I was taught to be proud of who I was. I was taught that I was equal.
And then I grew up. I realized that having a female Pastor was apparently revolutionary. I was told that me having to “fight an uphill battle to make a name for myself in a man’s working world” was apparently normal.
Feminism is a position that declares “I am good!” Not because I am a woman. Or despite me being a woman. I am good. I am a woman. Two unequivocal facts.
I would encourage everyone to watch the 30-minute speech by Chimamanda Adichie. View it here.
Look out for more equality-talks later & share your thoughts below!