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Thursday, August 22, 2013

I’M NOT A FEMINIST!




Guest-blogged by: Adeola Opeyemi
 
As a child, I followed my father every evening to his newspapers’ joint. This was where the under-employed literates like my father and his friends sat to discuss and argue: from politics to economics; to international terrorism in middle-east countries like Afghanistan; Iraq and Iran.

I loved watching my father and his friends speak big grammars at the height of the argument. Most of these big grammars I did not understand, but my magnetic brain always extracted and archived those words. Most time, I’d hum them (the new words) as I returned home with my father in the evening. I did not know the spellings of these words, so checking them in the dictionaries was out of it. However, I judged these words by the countenance of the speakers. If the words were mentioned with cool voice and were followed by not-so-loud argument with a lot of head nodding, I automatically believed they were good words and I’d write them down in my transliteration form of writing English then. The bad words like “politicians”, “pot hole”, ”tax” and ‘bribe’ were spat out like bile with anger, disgust and a lot of shouting and gestures. I did not write such words down, rather, I archived them in a special part of my brain and reserved it for bullies and mean uncles who called me bad names. I’d call my younger sister ‘tax head’ and she would cry.

One of such words was the word “Feminist”.  I was ten when I first came across this word, spoken with so much derision and disinterest by my father’s friend.

“The woman is a feminist” he had said. “I’ll never allow my wife to be her friend!”

I didn’t need to be told, I knew from the way he spoke and the manner my father and his friends nodded that being a feminist was bad, like being a prostitute or a serial killer. Later, after much courage, I asked my father for the meaning of “Feminist”. He told me a “Feminist” is a bad woman who disrespects men and hates children. I began to imagine a “Feminist” as the kind of a woman who eats small children for lunch and makes a broth out of grown men. She was in my thought “a very bad person”, her name sitting in the same rank with Armed Robbers, Prostitutes and “Area boys” whom my father always complained about. I imagined my Proprietress was a “Feminist” for beating students who came late for school, the nurse who gave me injection was a “Feminist” for being stone hearted, and my elder sister also fell into this category for always being mean to me. My worst nightmare was being a “Feminist” and I vowed amidst serious prayers to God never to be one.

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute”Rebecca West.

Growing up though, I began to get some things clearer. I’d pick the newspapers and my father’s other books and read. I didn’t wait for facial expressions anymore, I consulted my dictionaries and the word feminism began to take a different meaning. I realized a feminist was the beautiful lady lawyer who fought for the teenage girl who was raped by her father. While listening to news, I realized the woman who created a girls’ school in the not-so-woman-friendly rural area of the Northern part of Nigeria was called a feminist. Then I encountered another word with the same brain tasking and uniqueness that comes with the word “Feminist”. The word was “Activist”. I realized this word is mostly used for men who fight for their rights and the rights of other people. Men who would never allowed themselves to be cheated by anybody or society and men who speak out their rights and needs. I realized though that the word “Activist” is always pronounced with pride, the way one say “I’m a good man”. So why is the word “Feminist” different? Why do most men and most women spit the word out like a bitter fruit? What is in the word “Feminist”? Is it not the opposite of the word “Activist”, just like a woman is the opposite of a man?

No! It wasn’t, and never meant to be. Feminism and Feminist were words created by a man and being used by men and a lot of women to degrade, stigmatize and embarrass women into submitting selves into lesser beings who have no right to speak out in the world or fight for their rights. If women who fight for women can be called “Feminists”, don’t you think men who fight for men should also be called “Meninist” or “Malinist” with the same spiteful tone most people reserve for “Feminist”?.


“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”Maya Angeolu

After long tortuous years, I’ve finally known the true definition of “Feminist”. A feminist is a strong woman who tells it like it is, who is not afraid of being nailed on the cross and who refuses to go back into the archaic period where her likes were sexual dummies/baby producing machines; dregs in the society.

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. You may as well speak of a female liver”Charlotte P. Gilman

No human being is created lesser than the other. It is not a sin to want to be treated with equality and fairness. So, a woman was created after a man or so the Holy Book says. Mobile phones were created after Telephones and they are relatively smaller than land phones. It doesn’t mean they can’t do as much if not more work than the telephones. So who says the creation of a woman is not a simple advancement on the existence of man? And who says it is?

You decide who you are and who you want to be. But you are unfulfilled if you go to your grave having lived all your life in somebody else’s shadow.

However, though I appreciate this woman and will like to be strong like her, I refused to be stereotyped and stigmatized by the-name-giving society.

Let the world call such woman an “activist”, “a true talker” or a “heroine” or better still, a “world changer”. If we can’t do this and must stick to calling un-cowed women “Feminists”, then let their male counterparts answered to the word “Malinist” or “Meninist” with the same scorn that comes with being a “Feminist”.            
Until then, I’m not a Feminist! I’m only a true truth talker. I’m a world changer! 

******

Adeola Opeyemi is a writer and a visual artist. And yes, she eats both fried plantain and dodo.

11 comments:

  1. Nice post Adeola. You are soooo on point; you remind me of Adichie's TedX talk, 'We Should all be Feminists'. Feminism is in no way negative as it is portrayed (I restrict that to un-informed folks o) today. Albeit, there are those who hide under the umbrella of feminism to air their anti-male sentiments.
    You rock jare. I love feminists like I love you and your piece, ma'am. If only Joe would allow me blow a kiss...
    #blown already

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  2. Interesting one Adeola. Well articulated too

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  3. @Ayo. See smart toasting o. So, you want to come on TT and start toasting Adeola? IJN, that one won't happen. You didn't even ask if she's mine before you start chooku-chooku mouth. #Kiss redirected back to your mouth. :(

    Her post reminds of the Adichie's video talk on feminism too.

    @Sam. So...so...articulated. Adeola rocks, meh!

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  4. Replies
    1. Really good, Ifeoluwa. Adeola really knows how to write a good post. She's good. :)
      Thanks for commenting.

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  5. I love this post. Very true. www.secretlilies.com

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  6. I didn't know the word carried so much spite today, shake off the naysayers and just do you. Being a feminist is a beautiful thing. I am a proud one.

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  7. I never knew the word 'Feminist' had any form of negativity attached to it. Well if does, that's doesn't matter to me, because I'll call myself a Feminist anyways.

    A great write-up. Thumbs up to Adeola!

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  8. Good one Adeola. Proudly Feminist and I refuse to change the name to one more socially acceptable.

    Its a disrespect to the feminists who fought for the freedoms i enjoy today as a woman.

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