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THIS IS THE FEMINIST I BELIEVE IN

I get easily riled when contentious issues get talked about and opinions get so heated and never settle on an understanding. From experience, I have learned that when people get uproarious with their opinions, they do not care for enlightenment from the opposing view. So there are times, when issues concerning gender equality, feminism and sexuality come up, I err on the side of silence, you know, that section beyond the arena where I try to content myself with just observing and quietly lauding the champions fighting for my team.

However, there are other times when I just must say something.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine sent in a story he wanted me to publish on my blog, #MyMindSnaps. It was a story that, by the time I got to the end, I thoroughly didn’t like. The story ravaged all my sensibilities on the issue of gender. The story was fiction, and I saw it as a sly undercover mischaracterization of the feminist. My instinctual reaction was to go after the writer and question him, quite caustically, on his nerve for expecting me to publish such an inflammatory piece of work on my blog, a forum I believe to be an extension of my beliefs. (It is my mind that is snapping after all).

But after years of cultivating mental accommodation surrounding controversy on the internet/social media, by the time I got to writing my response to him, I’d bit back my anger and simply wanted to know what he was about, to be certain that the interpretation I’d derived from his work was his actual intent.

During the course of our subsequent conversation, I latched on to a few comments he made:

“… Most people start viewing gender equality in terms of trivialities like sharing of house chores between sexes like a man should cook and clean the house compulsively and that a man should know how to change baby diapers and sweep the house.

“Look, I can cook a variety of continental and intercontinental dishes. I can do house chore better than any house help can do it, but I believe there was a reason for that order of things. If I get married tomorrow, I would actually love to cook 24 hours nonstop for my wife. I would help her clean the house, do the dishes and even change the baby diapers but it should be ‘voluntary’ not dictating or because a group of women said I should do it, but because I love my wife and I know that she is not a slave but my wife, my partner.”

Therein lies the problem of most men, this notion that feminism is trying to boss them around.

To such a man, this is what I have to say. You say that when you get married, you’ll cater to your wife. You’ll do things for her, because you love her and not because you’re expected to. Because you care for her and not because “a group of women say you should do it.”

Well, guess what? No group of women is dictating that to you. No group of women is saying you MUST cook for your wife. No group of women is saying you MUST wait on your wife hand and foot. No group of women is saying you MUST learn how to change the baby’s diapers.

Although, it begs the question: why shouldn’t you do these things? What is so degrading about these things to the man that he must feel resentful when it is implied that he should be dutiful to his wife and family? (But I digress).

I was talking about how no group of women is mandating you be domesticated toward your wife. That is not, I believe, the primary message of feminism. The true feminist is not attempting to take away the masculinity of a man. This whole man-hating, ball-busting narrative that anti-feminists like to peddle about feminism has gotten old.

The feminist is not fighting men. The feminist is fighting FOR women.

There’s a difference.

The feminist is saying the husband shouldn’t laze about at home while the wife is expected to cook, clean, take care of the children, and pander to his every need. The feminist is saying the wife should not be married with the despicable notion that she’s in your house to be your slave. The feminist is saying both you and your wife should not come back from your 9-to-5 jobs and you’d kick back and expect her to run to the kitchen to start preparing your meal. The feminist is asking for you as a boss to consider everybody in your employ when a promotion or raise is due: everybody based on merit, and not just men because they’re men.

The feminist is asking for the man, the husband, the employer to be more understanding of the woman. To be more inclusive of the woman. To be less degrading of the woman. To be less dismissive of the woman.

Sure, as it is with every issue in this world, there will always be people who fancy themselves fighters of the cause, who would get it wrong. Who would go so far in their passion for the cause that they’d begin to pass on the wrong message. There’ll be women who’ll spit on matrimony and domesticity as a degradation of the woman, forgetting that a woman can be powerful and fulfilled as a wife and mother. This misrepresentation should not however define what feminism is. Christianity is a religion that came from Christ, who is of Love. Would you therefore dismiss the religion as ruinous simply because there are Christians who don’t love their fellow man as themselves? Of course not.

There is rightness in Feminism, no matter how detrimental the passions of some people who believe in it make it seem. There is rightness in Feminism because there’s no good that can come from a world where some people see themselves as superior to others based simply on gender, race or sexuality. There is rightness in Feminism because, in the immortal words of President Obama, when everybody is equal, we are all more free.

I am @Walt_Shakes on twitter


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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12 comments

  1. Truth be told, I’ve been somewhat indifferent towards the whole feminism thing. Not like I don’t believe in treating women equally. I just like to be somewhere sipping my nutri-c and watch others tear themselves apart (just like you). But now that you put it this way, I say kudos.

  2. This is a beautiful essay.

  3. Same here, Agu. The whole topic of feminism is getting hairier by the day and I sometimes feel the need to let it die. But truth be told, male chauvinism is still rampant in our society even worse in some other societies. Women may have come pretty far enough in southern Nigeria yet the situation in the north remains dire. And we do these females up north and in some countries around the world who don’t enjoy this good fortune when we insist on dismissing the subject of feminism because of our own realities.

    In my opinion.

  4. Apt.
    This is what alot of men – and even some women don’t get. They have so misinterpreted the feminist/gender equality movement that it begins to sound like every feminist is anti-men or a man hater. They talk of submission and men are quick to refer you to Ephesians 5:22 where wives must be subject to their husbands but they forget Vs21 that says both should be subject to one another in fear of Christ or Vs25 where men should love their wives as Christ loved the church and delivered himself up for it…
    This issue can’t even be explained in one comment. We just need a mentality overhaul and it starts from the home.

  5. Nice piece Walt.

  6. Very apt Walter.

  7. Often the relationship between genders are painted to be similar to race or sexuality. I think it is completely different. A man is scared for his wife to earn more than him because growing up, his idea of a man most likely from his home and society is one that protects and provides. Failing to meet up to this, he cannot identify with what he thinks he should be. So the woman getting ahead is automatically an attack oh his sense of self and identity. Also, it doesn’t help that these notions are reinforced constantly by women that regularly gravitate towards men that fit the “dominant” stereotype. Taller, stronger, smarter, richer. The “fragile” man is constantly being looked down on by both men and women in many societies.

  8. Until men are made to feel that it is okay not to be “macho”, this means women not choosing my friend in the Benz over me in the Toyota, I cannot help but feel the need to be the man in the Benz and more often than not men will overcompensate for this social pressure to be powerful but pulling women down. Its the same reason men are ashamed to report violence from women, you will be laughed at.

  9. Thank you for this piece walt

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