My hero, my fellow country woman and one of the greatest authors on earth, Chimamanda Adichie, once said “we should all be feminists” and the phrase spread like wildfire.
Beyoncé, a popular American singer referenced same in her recent album, Michelle Obama quoted it, and it was all over the spring/summer catwalk of London, Paris, Milan and New York fashion weeks.
I disagree with this saying; we should not all be feminists! I often register the shock, disappointment and sense of betrayal when I admit this to those who had assumed I am a feminist, and by admitting as such they feel I am letting down the cause or the “sisterhood”.
I sometimes get the approval of people, especially men, who think feminism is overrated because they are comfortable with the patriarchal status quo and do not want the boat rocked, but after more in-depth chats they are
often disappointed when they find out we are not on the same level.
The question now is, where do I stand in all of these? For or against? The answer is neither; my problems is not with the idea of feminism as I am an advocate for women empowerment, gender equality and for every female to be given the same chance as a male, seen as their equal in all walks of life.
However, my problem with feminism is the name tag and the mixed messages. I take issue with the name tag because I am tired of women being tagged in everyday life in a way that is different from the male folks. In order words, we don’t often tag men, which in turn put us in boxes and divides us.
Tags such as “strong woman”, “brave woman”, “female artist”, “female footballer”, “smart woman”, “mrs”, “miss”,” ms” to mention a few are long over due to be expunged in addressing women in our society. The question again is, Why can’t we just be women without any tags just like men are in our everyday lives, addressing us without basing it on gender unnecessarily?
In the case of the mixed messages, I think feminism can be confusing and it is often used in dividing us rather than uniting us. Feminism could only be understood if have the idea of its many parts. They include those that believe women can freely express their sexuality in terms of how they dress, the job they do etc., which may be frowned upon sometimes in society as being immoral or indecen.
There is another faction that believes that, as a
woman you are passing a weak message to the society based on the way you act or position yourself. For example, a woman that chooses to be a housewife may be judged for her decision to put or allow herself to be kept in such a position.
This is exactly what brings me back to the confusing message I see in feminism. If we continue to weaken our women instead of strengthen them, I do not think it is a good idea. As women, we should also stop judging ourselves, because this is what the society has been doing since the time immemorial.
There is no gainsaying that, women are tired of being judged and we do not need a set of feminists to tell us what to do or how to live our lives. In our society today, people, especially celebrities, often use whatever faction of feminism to their advantage, to push sales, sell records or increase their popularity or as the case may be.
In place of this confusion, I would rather men took ownership of the concept of feminism, the
feminist man being someone who champions women’s rights and believes in equality of gender, because we need every man to recognise women as their equal. It is high time for women to know their rights, demand their worth, forget any name tags and work towards a common goal that ensures our voices are not silenced and our contribution to society is given appropriate recognition.
Let women be women and our men be feminist!
Princess Bomi Adewale-Truluck writes from UK.