To one who is not deeply rooted in societal issues and certain knowledge, feminism is synonymous to “hatred for men”.(1) A friend of mine once posted on his social media timeline advising women that would not want a broken home to stay far away from the cankerworms parading as feminists. To him, feminists are; home breakers, rebels, haters of men and people that does not accept the idea of being bonded in marriage with a man.
But is that the true meaning of feminism? No. It is a common misconception. The idea of feminism has been misconstrued as the idea of switching the power structure so the male folks would be at the bottom and the skirts* would be at the helm. This misconception boils down to one particular impression made by a set of people.
Some certain individuals who identifies themselves as feminists but their works are in no way in terms with the concept of feminism are actually the causes of this misconception. The correct term for this set of people is misandry. Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys(2).
Misandry manifests in so many ways such as; sexual objectification of men, denigration of men, sexual discrimination of men and display of certain levels of domestic violence against men(3). This has nothing to do with feminism and those into this should never be allowed to soil the efforts made by true feminists to influence the course of gender roles and gender inequality.
Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes(4). Feminists are committed to creating an equal educational and professional opportunities just as the men have. Feminism have helped scrapped the practice that has seen women participate less in the social and political affairs of our country, Nigeria.
True feminism has opened the eyes of Nigerians to better understand gender roles and equality. In the days of old, leadership was all left for the men while women were abused countless times and ignored in the societal decision-making process. This is gradually waning out as men and women of goodwill are making their voices heard in the quest to disassemble the patriarchal structure.
The patriarchal structure is the belief that women should have husbands that should solely take care of them, that women are overly weak and emotional and that the domestic duties are better left for the women. The patriarchal structure is not only a disadvantage to the females only as it also connotes that a man can never be overly emotional or weak, that a man can never be sexually harassed or assaulted and that men can not take care of children as a woman would. I once had an argument with a girl who insisted that men instituted the particular structure intentionally and that it should be reversed so men could feel how it feels. I was able to convince her that although that might seem to be true, that the patriarchal structure is partly due to evolution. During the stone ages, the major works done then required great mechanical strength. People with greater strengths were made to cut stones, shape and sharpen weapons and hunt for foods while the women stayed home tending the younger ones. But with the advancement of technology and everything made relatively easier, the structure has to be wiped out completely so the women could take more part in the decision making and governing of our society. That is feminism in a nutshell.
Feminism is aimed at disassembling the patriarchal structure unlike misandry that aims at reversing the structure. The movement, feminism, in Nigeria has gone a long way and does not look to stop. The idea od feminism has been able to create a balance between gender roles and equality in Nigeria although more efforts are needed and the general public needs to come to terms with the concept of feminism. Feminism also does not come without its own challenges.
One of the challenges rocking the boat of the movement, nonetheless, is the misconception of the idea. Like I said earlier on, misandrists have been mixed up with those fighting the just cause and this has reportedly caused pollution. People under the guise of feminism have said and written unimaginable things against persons of the opposite gender and has done nothing impactful but turning the idea into a gender war. These bad eggs are seen on all social media platforms spreading hate and contempt. For this movement of feminism to succeed, people of this intention should be totally ignored and earmarked as enemies of the struggle.
Another challenge being faced by this movement in Nigeria is the belief that it is gender based and made for female folks only. Some men in Nigeria are seeing it as a feminine gender thing and while in an actual sense it is a movement for all sexes to be free and equal.
Elissa Nolte who works for “Women and Gender Studies” in their publication named “What does Feminism mean to you?” said, “ Feminism isn’t just women’s issues. It helps fight racism/classism/ablism/ageism/patriarchy/homophobia/etc., and everyone can be a feminist, regardless of race, gender, class, religion, ability, etc.”
For this movement to make headway in Nigeria, all hands should be on deck and men should not be left out of this struggle to put an end to the patriarchal structure as it is still a disadvantage to them as much as it is to the women.
Achieving an even and classless society where both genders are treated equally and respected is work for all the citizens of our country and should be seen as a collective duty. I therefore urge all citizens, government parastatals, Non Governmental Organisations and private institutions to embrace the campaign against sexual discrimination.
1: Feminism vs Misandry by Vijetha Sreerama .
2: Merriam Webster English Dictionary: Definition of misandry.
3: Feminism vs Misandry by Vijetha Sreerama.
4: Merriam Webster English dictionary: Definition of feminism.
*Skirts* – Figurative word for women/females.
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