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THE FEMINIST HANDBOOK: FAQ/MISCONCONCEPTIONS ON FEMINISM

This is officially the first post in the Feminist Handbook, a collaboration with a fellow powerful feminist and blogger, Bami.

We decided to kick off the programme by answering thirty questions on the misconceptions people have about feminism and why it is important for all of us to be feminists.

For my own fifteen questions, I decided to make it a compilation not just of questions but also of statements that people often make about feminism. And I also tried my best to explain what feminism means without actually asking the question “What is Feminism?” I hope you enjoy this blogpost and learn a great deal from it.

Feminism was brought to us by white people, it is alien to our culture as Africans.

What? Heck no! Feminism isn’t alien to our culture; for a long time African women have been standing up for themselves. We have examples of great women in Africa, like Queen Amina of Zaria, we have Naa Asantewa of Ashanti Kingdom, we even have the Aba Women riot of 1929, where women refused to be pushovers and fought for their rights. These examples are amongst many others.

So, while in pre-historical Africa, the word feminism was not used, the general concept and idea existed and the ideology grew with civilisation and became more refined.

Is feminism a movement for the destruction of the male gender?

Feminism is not a movement or a propaganda against men. Feminism simply put means gender equality in every sphere of life. The only enemy feminism has is patriarchy. Patriarchy has no face, anybody can be patriarchal, man or woman.

Why do men feel the need to bring up their own issues only when feminism is discussed?

In my opinion, this is done by patriarchal men. They do this to demean the struggles of women. Do they do this consciously or otherwise?, I cannot say for sure. They often feel threatened when women discuss their issues and raise voices against oppression but, in a bid to hold on to the values they so visibly hold dear, they raise issues; mediocre issues that cannot even be put on the same level as the struggles women face today and have been facing since the onset of time.

Is feminism only for women?

Feminism is not only for women. We should all be feminist; women and men alike. We have quite a number of men on and off social media platforms who champion the cause and genuinely believe in equality of the sexes.

“Feminists are made, not born. One does not become an advocate of feminists policies simply by having the privilege of being born female.” -Bell Hooks

Going from the above quote from Bell Hooks, feminism is for the benefit of everybody, feminism has only one enemy and that is patriarchy.

Why are feminist lesbians?

Not all feminist are lesbians. Regardless, feminism affords women the opportunity to be open about their sexuality and be free to live their lives according their own terms. Feminism is for everyone; straight, queer, trans-people, religious people, irreligious people and generally everyone who is open minded and who can see that before we are anything, we are human beings.

There is no provision for feminism in any religion, why are women trying to be smarter than God?

The basis of every true religion is peace, love, tolerance and respect for every human being regardless of gender, religion or social status, and that is basically what feminism is about, RESPECT AND TOLERANCE. That’s basically what feminism teaches.  

I consider my self a “half feminist” because I only subscribe to part of what feminism is about.

This is one of statements that I find funny and upsetting at the same time. I cannot emphasize this enough, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HALF FEMINIST! You are either a feminist or you are not. For example, you may be an advocate for girl-child education but you don’t think women deserve equal pay at work, then you are not a feminist. You can’t pick one aspect of feminism over the others; find another label to give yourself.

The only way women can control men is by being submissive, is that not what feminism is about?

Control is not what feminism is about. Feminism is not here to shift control from one gender to another, feminism is about eradicating male dominance and it’s resultant effect, such as rape and sexual abuse, possessiveness, unequal pay at the workplace, gender based violence, child marriage and many more.

Does who cooks Egusi soup matter?

Lol..Yes, it does. It may sound like a trivial issue about who should cook in the home but it does. Cooking and cleaning, doing house chores is not a job that should be done based on gender. Just as who puts food on the table, or who provides for the family shouldn’t be decided by gender.

What is the point of educating a girl child?

The same as the point of educating a boy child.

Will men have to start their own movement, since women have feminism?

Feminism is for everybody but, if men have grievances they want to be heard, no one is stopping them from starting their own movement.

Why the word feminism and not equalism?

The end goal of feminism is to have an equalist society. Right now we don’t have that, women are still being discriminated against, women still don’t have rights over their own bodies, women’s reproductive rights are still being decided by men, until these issues and many other issues facing women are solved and eradicated then feminism is here to stay.

It is a man’s inherent right to lead, protect and provide for women, why can’t feminist accept that and move on?

I’d have to answer this question with another question, why is it a man’s inherent right to lead? Does he have a different super human brain that a woman doesn’t have?

Why are feminist only focused on domestic and family life when there are other aspects to feminism?

Radical Feminist are not only focused on domestic and family life. It may only seem so because as they say”charity begins at home” Cliché as it sounds but it is the truth, you cannot go out and fight against Female Genital Mutilation, gender based violence, rape culture or even fight for women’s reproductive right, right to equal pay, right to equal representation in public, right to drive, right to make choices, right to sexuality, right to mutual respect etc, when within the confines of your home, you cower and lower your voice, or your defer to your “masculine betters”. It defeats the whole purpose.

I am a feminist but…

Nah..we are not doing this today.

Thank you for reading.

This is it on my part, let’s head over to Bami’s blog, she has some really interesting Q&As for us.

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