It recently occurred to me from reading the comment section of BellaNaija and from interacting with anti-feminists that many people are ill informed about the ideals of feminism. Just to clarify, feminism is a political movement that aims to establish political, economic, personal and social rights for women. From my discussions, I believe a lot of people who oppose feminism learn about feminism from anti-feminists; they don’t even know the ideals of the movement that they so vehemently reject. It is ok to oppose any political movement or ideology but it isn’t very intelligent not to know the actual ideals of the movement that you oppose.
Nigerians often use the excuse of culture and religion to dismiss feminism as a foreign ideology/movement. I simply ask those “keepers of culture” who are somehow Christian/Muslim (Yes, Christianity & Islam that are used as a basis to reject feminism are also an imported ideologies/systems) to read about Queen Amina of Zaria, Nana Asma’u and Emotan. Before the Europeans invaded our lands and forced their culture and religion on us, they were women who dared to be more that what society told them they could/ should be, there were women who fought against their subjugation; we all have that one ancestor that ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage. So, feminism is really not that foreign to Nigeria, also PSA: Culture is not static; it is subject to change. When evidence shows that certain cultural practices are dangerous or offer no benefit they should be dropped.
I hope people will stop using that “It is not our culture” argument from now on but even if it is a foreign movement what is wrong with that?? Nigeria has adopted several foreign beliefs and systems; democracy (even though Nigeria is democratic in name only – that is a topic for another day), religion and our current formal education system were all adopted from foreign countries. If a belief or system being foreign is basis enough for rejection then I suggest we close all the churches and mosques in Nigeria (No, Right?). Nigerians are willing to accept foreign ideologies and systems so why is feminism the exception?? I wish the people who use this shaky argument as an excuse will just be honest about why they don’t support the movement.
Another group of ill-informed people often reject feminism because they think feminist are trying to be men (Huge Sigh). First of all, Feminists are not trying to be men!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just want equal rights as men; We want girls to be sent to school just like boys, we want women to earn the same salary as male coworkers at the same level, we want to be able to rent an apartment even though we are single or even get medical treatment without a husband’s permission.
Secondly, we acknowledge that there are biological sex differences between males and females that cannot be changed but we don’t want those differences to be used as justification for hindering our rights especially since it has been proven that those differences do not make women/girls any less capable than men/boys. We have breasts and we menstruate but how exactly does that make me unsuitable to inherit my parent’s properties/ go to school/ earn as much as male coworkers and so on. (It doesn’t)
The last group of people I am going to address in this post are the “My mother is in charge of my household so there is no need for feminism” people. This group of people claim that there is no need for a feminist movement because they haven’t personally experienced gender discrimination (Selfish much). To them I reply “Congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones”. These people remind me of people who defend PHCN [Power Holding Company of Nigeria] because they’ve had somewhat constant electricity for a week even though the rest of the country is experiencing serious power shortages. It is undeniable that there are women/girls who are denied certain rights and forced undergo certain inhumane acts like FGM and child marriage just because they are girls and it is unbelievable and quite sickening, that people will dismiss the movement that aims to protect the affected women/girls just because they aren’t personally affected.
I believe this post is going to have a second part because I have heard so many fallacious arguments against feminism that can’t be addressed in one post.
PSA: Pleases stop calling FGM “female circumcision” because it minimises the cruel and inhumane nature of FGM. The clitoris and sometimes the entire vulva is removed and the victims experience severe psychological trauma and most times physical pain and bleeding during sex for the rest of their lives. Male circumcision although unnecessary is still unharmful and it doesn’t affect the function of the penis.