This post stems from a very frustrating conversation that I had with someone. It is very frustrating to have discussions with people who don’t know what they are talking about; people who make statements and proclamations that can’t be backed up by any sort of evidence [PSA: Sometimes, it’s ok not to say anything].
So, I was having a conversation with someone about male entitlement and how it reflects in sexual interactions between men and women. I stated well-researched facts on how male entitlement in sex is harmful to women/girls and the person asked me why I always focus on the negative. I was so shocked and disappointed that someone who claims to be a feminist will respond to the danger that many girls/women face daily with such a callous reply.
Why do I always focus on the negative?? Well, I focus on the negative because the experience of females in Nigeria is negative (that is not to say we don’t have positive experiences). We are trained from birth to be subservient to the men in our lives, we are groomed to be polite even to our abusers, we are blamed when we are raped, we are blamed when we are cheated on, we are blamed for provoking the man when we are victims of domestic violence, we are coerced to exchange sexual favours for employment, we are shamed when we are infertile, our genitalia is mutilated to ensure that a man gets to marry a virgin and the list goes on; I can publish an Encyclopaedia on how the life of a female is negative in Nigeria.
I am sorry (not sorry) if highlighting the discrimination that my fellow Nigerian women/girls face makes me a negative person (or whatever adjective people are using in place of “angry feminist” these days) but I will continue to advocate for the rights of women in Nigeria and if you don’t like my “negative” approach then…..(fill in the blanks)
According to this person, my approach to feminism was too negative and they were going to adopt a more positive approach to fighting for women’s rights. I asked this person for the alternative method(s) that they are/would use to fight against sexism and no alternative was given but instead, they told me that I ALWAYS talk about the problem and NEVER offer any solutions (This is textbook anti-feminist derailment tactic); which was not true (#alternativefacts) because, in my previous discussions with this person, I had offered several solutions to the problem that I mentioned.
Also, and more importantly, to fight/cure any social problem, one needs to make a proper diagnosis. To fight the social disease that is sexism, its cause, symptoms and even mode of transmission have to be identified for the disease to be treated properly; incomplete diagnosis will lead to incomplete treatment. As many feminists scholars have lamented, patriarchy has spread its tentacles to every facet of our lives and the full extent of its damaging effects on the lives of women/girls is still unknown and under-researched because people have shut down feminist social scientists by calling them man-haters, angry feminist and negative people. So, focusing on the “negative” is essential to raising the consciousness of people especially women to the harmful effects of sexism.
Also during the discussion, the scientifically unbacked idea of positive and negative psychic energy was brought was brought forth as a reason for me to change my method of operation (sigh!!!!). The whole idea is that if you think positive thoughts, positive things will happen to you and if you think negative thoughts then negative things will happen to you. The truth is everybody will have positive and negative experiences in life regardless of how positive or negative they think; We have little to no control on when and how these events will occur. I think people come up with such beliefs because it can be very heartbreaking to accept that we have no control over the things that happen to us and so they decide to believe that our acts/thoughts will protect us from bad circumstances and situations.
To be honest, since the person I was discussing with is a Nigerian, I was surprised that they didn’t suggest that we pray away sexism like we’ve been praying away corruption for the last 57 years (Look how well that has been working out).
In conclusion, institutionalised discrimination cannot be wished away.