I think we should all be feminists, and here’s why. I’ve heard a lot of wild things but I guess the top two concerning feminism were: how can you support human rights if you’re a feminist, as well as the time a prefect was talking to a lowerclassmen and said just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I won’t make you kneel (the whole highschool was in trouble) so my girl and I looked at each other in confusion.
A lot of people confuse feminism with misandry and will even throw sexism into the pot for flavour. What this article will attempt to do is dismantle any preconceived notions about the terms mentioned. Have a seat y’all, this class is in session!
Feminism is the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.
The fight for equality is a never-ending war, dating as far back as the third century BCE. Women in Rome took a stand when consul Cato stopped attempts to repeal the laws limiting women’s use of expensive goods.
“If they are victorious now, what will they not attempt…as soon as they begin to be your equals, they will become your superiors.”
Even though Cato died eons ago, his words live on and are the mindset of many people, especially here on the motherland. To some, the ideology is inconceivable because it disrupts a way of life, especially in the rural areas where education is hard to come by and is seen as a privilege for boys and a faraway dream for girls.
If it seems like there’s too much feminism talk going around, it’s simply because not much action is taking place. While some believe that we’ve already reached equality for men and women, millions don’t support the idea nor do they believe in feminism. We know that men and women are not the same, we know our biology. However, the fight has nothing to do with advocating for sameness- it has everything to do with equality.
Furthermore, keep in mind that there are waves of feminism. To be honest, the whole waves thing is kind of messy because it insinuates that there’s no flow, growth or continuity in the fight for feminism. However, it is known as the best metaphor that describes the timeline of feminism (in the US) -as mentioned, the fight goes as far back as the third century.
The first wave, 1848 to 1920, refers to the first sustained political movement dedicated to achieving political equality: the suffragettes. They were a force to be reckoned with and achieved many great things…even if they were racist.
The second wave, 1963 to the 1980s, was more about women getting rights to have credit cards under their own names, apply for mortgages and dismantling systemic sexism in society…and yes, racism was still an issue for them too. This was the time when feminists were labelled as bitter, angry, sex-hating, man-hating people.
The third and fourth waves fall into one another because no one really knows when the third wave (which started in 1991) ended. It focused on fighting against sexual harassment in the workplace and increasing the number of women in positions of power; as well as women embracing their sexuality and feminity. To this day, many assume the way women dress and act is to appease men; we are still in competition with each other.
Third-wave feminism made people recognize that women do ‘girly’ things for themselves.
Many believe that the fourth wave is more of an online movement -seeing as we are in the Digital Age, the power of social media should not be undermined. We’ve all heard of the hashtags: #MeToo, Cancel R Kelly, #TimesUp movement, etc.
Back to the bitter man-hating feminists or simply, women who hate men. People who hate men are referred to as misandrists. Some believe that it is the male version of misogyny -the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. Truthfully speaking, women should be allowed to be angry and intensely dislike men if they wish to. Male oppression is not real, and these men advocating for men’s rights need to be stopped expeditiously! It is nonsensical to fight for rights that were created for you (a man) by other people (men) who look like you.
Men have never been denied the right to an education, own land, etc. because of their sex. Have men been abused? Yes. Do they have a higher suicide rate? Yes. Is anyone denying the facts and statistics? Absolutely not. Numbers don’t lie, which is why we all know that despite facing harassment, there’s a substantial amount of male predators compared to females. Feminists may or may not hate men. I cannot speak for everyone as we all have different experiences. But, whether or not a person chooses to hate others based on their sex, as it is their prerogative, it has nothing to do with what feminism is really about. The fact is, women are angry.
“Men are afraid of being laughed at, women are afraid of being killed.” – Margaret Atwood
This quote clearly depicts what the difference between misandry and misogyny is. Men would not feel threatened by the presence of a group of women, they would not fear for their lives, can women say the same? We walk in groups, have curfews, hold our keys in a certain way, ready to weaponize them if necessary, and carry pepper spray or tasers… and men, straight men rather, dare cry misandry when women make valid points or win one small battle of many? It’s deplorable; the second-hand embarrassment is real.
To retrace the steps of the coloniser, think back to the days we had queens doing their thing across the continent. Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut were Pharaohs, as in plural. They did that. There was also Queen Ndate Yalla of Senegal, Queen Nzinga of Ndongo, as well as The Dahomey Amazons! Yes, they were real and didn’t live on a cool island but they were real and they were Black!
Alas, the colonisers came with slavery and ways of life that would change the course of development of Africa forever. Even though some of our women had positions of power that most women in Europe couldn’t have, feminism is still very much needed here, regardless of whether or not one may believe it is ‘un-African’. In countries like Botswana, a woman cannot apply for a bank loan without her husband’s approval (signature), and many women are still fighting for land rights and even access to higher education like in Kenya.
However, thanks to the global movement and belief that is feminism, 62% of women in Rwanda hold legislative seats. Senegal, South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique have more than 40% of women holding parliamentary seats. There’re female speakers of the house in one-fifth of African parliaments, which is higher than the world average of 14%.
We are definitely on the right path to equality. First-wave feminists like Sojourner Truth and our past queens and military leaders are smiling down at us.
I hope any mild confusion about feminism and misandry has been cleared up so choose the right side of history and become a feminist. It’s the right thing to do.
Written by Theresa Ntswaki. She writes in her own capacity.