I once read where someone wrote, “There are always two versions of the truth; there’s my version, your version, and then what the truth actually is”. Humans have a fundamental tendency to pick sides, life has little tolerance for fence sitters and neutrals, and therefore true objectivity when it comes to matters that are not empirical in nature is a fiercely elusive thing. Feminism is no exception. In my opinion, all prejudices and discrimination are borne out of stereotypes, and stereotypes are a product of side-taking. A group with more power or an illusion or delusion of having more power sets out on the oppressive on another.
In 2014, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a profound essay on feminism (profound in every wise) “We Should All Be Feminists”. She has been for a while a subtly divisive figure, for those who both like her and resent her. Well in her essay she made references to personal experiences which she felt illustrates how society (Nigerian in particular) marginalizes and dismiss women on the grounds of their gender. Two particular accounts she cited to buttress her points are what David Cameron may find “fantastically” hyperbolic! But that’s a gist for another day. I’ll like to focus on these particular paragraphs:
“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”
Refusing to ignore the overly fallacious generalizations, the question must be asked: How exactly do you quantify or measure these claims? Presumptions?
She goes on…
“We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak—a hard man. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.
Stereotypes don’t just happen; they are products of sustained generalizations told over and over till they are sediments in our minds. I for one know that nobody stifled my humanity (whatever that means). How do you stifle one’s humanity anyway? As a young boy growing up in Nigeria, nobody ever told me or taught me masculinity is “a hard small cage” that I must be in, or be “afraid of fear” (that honestly makes no sense, not even as a paradox). She earlier mentioned that most men are physically stronger than women (at least, she didn’t generalize there). Along with that, there are other things that are visibly different physiologically and even psychologically between men and women. Nobody taught me how to be masculine, my masculinity was a natural response to interacting with other human beings of opposite and same sex. For instance as a child most girls liked to play ‘ten-ten’, I never did, not because someone told me that it was for girls, but because I responded instinctively to perhaps more physically demanding karate kicks, or football with the boys.
Prejudice and injustice exists in the gender sphere, there’s no denying that. Women need to be engaged more in society. I mean, if we have more women in gainful and appropriately remunerated employment as we do men, it can only improve the economy. However a skewing of empowerment, devised by incitement, radicalism—which is what most feminist practice, does not lead to equality; which is the holy grail of most activism. But equality is not always fairness. I recall Novak Djokovic almost being crucified because he suggested male tennis players should be paid more than their female counterparts since they pull greater spectatorship. Now, if you take away the glasses of political correctness, and look at it objectively, is there really any gender discrimination there? Yes, equal work should mean equal pay. But should unequal productivity also mean equal rewards?
Activism is a word I treat with caution. Decidedly so because, it is a concept doubled edged in nature and inherently rebellious. It has a potential for relentless upheavals that can either transform lives for the better, or alter the norm for the worse. The truth is, it is an essential human trait to desire relevance. To feel like you matter, and that you are changing lives. So everyone seeks a cause to live by, and the issue of truth—a considerably now a relative matter—is so often relegated to the background.
Feminism in the way it is advanced by its demagogues, is at best vague in good intentions, and divisive in an ironically prejudiced manner. Everyone preaches equality, everyone wants that cause, that ideal to be established. It remains however in conceptual argument whether equality is a healthy incubator to breed a new era of a discrimination free world. Feminism reinforces gender chauvinism in the minds of people; feminists therefore are the reverse side of misogynists.
We should not be feminists.
Emeka doesn’t like to talk about himself in the third-person, he thinks it’s weird and uncomfortable. So Emeka will stop now… but before then, you should know Emeka is a disciple of Jesus. I find solace in the recluse of sagely contemplations; to make meaning of knowledge. Is youth wasted on the young? Or wisdom on the old? A mystery…