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NOT All Feminist Are Lesbians

Saturday, January 13, 2018

/ by Adamawa Celebrities

Feminism, the facts and the myths

Feminism is a topic many people would like to avoid discussing, men and women alike because of the controversies that surround many people’s misunderstanding of the topic and probably because of a number of confusing information out there.

Feminism dates back to as far back as the 18th century and it refers to the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. As defined by Wikipedia, feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminists typically advocate or support the rights and equality of women.

There are popularly known three types of feminism, radical, socialist and cultural feminism. Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. Socialist feminism argues that liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women's oppression. Cultural feminism is an ideology of a "female nature" or "female essence" that attempts to re-validate what cultural feminists consider undervalued female attributes.

According to the United Nations, women make up 51% of the world’s population and women’s economic and social rights are held back, because they are forced to fit into a ‘man’s world’. It isn’t any different for women in Nigeria, as women are offered fewer opportunities than men backed by our many patriarchal cultural and religious laws.
The history of feminism in Nigeria stemmed from the need to change the economic and politically status quo of women. In the north, Islamic practice processes meant, generally, less formal education; early teenage marriages, especially in rural areas; and confinement to the household, which was often polygynous, except for visits to family, ceremonies, and the workplace, if employment were available and permitted by a girl's family or husband. While women in the south, especially among the Yoruba peoples, had received Western-style education since the nineteenth century, so they occupied positions in the professions and to some extent in politics.

A national feminist movement was inaugurated in 1982, and a national conference held at Ahmadu Bello University. The papers presented indicated a growing awareness by Nigeria's university-educated women that the place of women in society required a concerted effort and a place on the national agenda; the public perception, however, remained far behind”, (Global Gender Gap Report, 2013).

But within the years, the feminist movement around the world and Nigeria has risen and with the uprising of the Nigerian entertainment industry, many celebrities have become ardent feminists and join the movement to advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. 

There are a number of myths shrouding feminism, of which one is that many feminists are bitter. Other misconceptions are that feminist are lesbians and are against marriage, feminists hate men and feminism is targeted at hurting men. These statements are false because they are based on sentiments, and these sentiments come from people who are not ready to face the truth about what many women are going through all over the world. That is not to say that men do not have their own challenges, but women seems to be the worst hit when it comes to economic, political, and social challenges.

The fact is not all feminists are women, there are men feminists too, and being a feminist does not define a person’s sexual orientation or the need to get married, many people’s decision to get married is determined by a lot of factors. Feminism does not hurt men, rather than it fights for equality, invariably helping to free men from the pressures of having to conform to an unhealthy version of masculinity as defined by gender roles, something that hurts men by potentially stifling their true emotions, stunting personal growth. Feminism seeks to empower women and fights for laws, policies and rights that promote the growth of women.

Feminism not only affects women by proffering solutions to challenges they face, it is also beneficial to men as it seeks to correct gender stereotypes and prevents conformity to society’s expectations faced by men. Feminism in its fight for gender equality paces the way for equal access to opportunities, of which men are partakers. Feminism also gives men the chance to be ‘emotionally’ human without being branded as weak. Men gender stereotypes such as “Men are stronger and that men are the breadwinners” put so much pressure on men such that society believe that to perform these roles, men ought to be considered first in terms of economic opportunities. With feminism, men and women can now seek for the same opportunities, thus gradually correcting society’s patriarchal system of doing things.

According to African Development Bank, Nigerian women make up 70% of the agricultural workforce, so we cannot underestimate the role of women to society. There need to be a conscious effort to improve the status of women. Feminism helps in the enactment of bills such as the Gender Equality Bill in Nigeria. This bill was rejected by the Nigerian Senate perhaps because it was perceived to be feminist in its approach. This goes to show that the public needs more orientation as to the meaning of the word feminism and gender equality and how they relate to society, then and only then can feminism reach its goals. Am I a feminist? If being worried about women’s future makes me one, then I am!

Are you a feminist?

Here is what Chimamanda Adichie has to say, 
“My own definition of feminist is a man or a woman who says, ‘yes, there is a problem with gender as it today and we must fix it, we must do better, All of us, women and men, must do better”.

I asked a few friends of mine their opinion on the topic of feminism; these were the questions I asked them:

1. How would you define feminism?
2. What do you think feminism aims to achieve?
3. Can a man be a feminist?

Friend One: Group of people fighting for women rights especially gender equality. They are fighting for gender equality and the rights of women. A man can be feminist because gender equality favours everybody in the society. 

Friend Two: It is a movement or cause for the liberation of women and their access to equal opportunity as men. Feminism aims to achieve equal opportunity, roles, rights and privilege. But when I hear some people talk, all I hear is dominance and control over male folk

Question: Do you think feminism is overrated?

Ans: Not really, it looks two-sided. A lot still needs to be done in terms of liberating women. There is still much terrible culture that subjugates women in Nigeria which needs to be abolished. However, there are always little leavens that leaveneth the whole lump. There are the extremists, they are not after liberation of women, and they want dominance over men. They actually hate the male folk; that side of feminism is overrated and realistically unachievable.

Question: Do you think men can be feminist?

Ans: Yes they can, as long as they are fighting for the same things feminism sets to achieve.
Friend Three: Feminism can be defined as defending the rights of a woman in the society. What it aims to achieve is to make the society understand that a woman is not just made to be behind closed doors, but can also stand, talk in the same place as the male counterparts. In other words, they should be acknowledged as an important being in the society whose opinion matters. 

A man can be a feminist because only women cannot go about telling society why they are important. Men can also take it upon themselves to enlighten their other men about women’s rights making them understand why women should not be exempted from some societal roles. In a society where men are dominant, if you find men who are willing to tell their peers about feminism, it is taken more seriously than when a woman carries the burden herself. 

By Grace Yakubu
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