What it means to be feminist

By  Dinema Mate

Feminism, if there ever has been a word that has produced both awe and terror in me it is that one!  It has confused me, as an African woman born and bred in the continent I have never quite where to place myself.  If I am a feminist does that mean that I hate men?  Does that mean that I should not allow men to open doors for me?  Or that I should stop wearing my frilly, ultra-feminine summer dresses and stop shaving my legs?  What is being a feminist anyway?

According to (my personal favorite whenever I am confused about anything from do aliens exist to how many steps should I take in a day to lose weight) Google, yes Google. Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.  This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

That means if I am a feminist I believe that I am the intellectual, emotional and social equal of a man.  Therefore if we are equal, then I should not expect doors to be opened for me or for dates to be paid by my male partner.   Being a feminist means that I have the power to make my choices, whether to be a powerful executive or a stay at home mom, or if I like my doors to be opened for me or not.  Both choices are mine to make and neither of them, make me any less of a woman or feminist.

Unfortunately, there is a notion out there that to be considered a feminist, you have to be a hard, no-nonsense, type of woman.  I have seen many women, especially in the workplace, confuse aggression for assertiveness.  We cannot talk about feminism without discussing its ugly stepsister, misandry.  Misandry is described as the ingrained prejudice against men. Next time you are out with your girlfriends and someone makes statements like, “All men are dogs,” or, “men are stupid.” those are classic examples of misandry and do not do the feminist cause any justice.

Let’s just take a step back and remember our predecessors and what they were actually fighting for. Women in the 19th century, which was when the feminist ideology was born, were fighting life and death battles, like the right to vote, the right to own land, the right to decide whether or not they wanted children. Serious stuff. Why have we now turned this into a race to discuss whether the control of women’s reproductive role by men is the rule of patriarchal oppression.  Are you kidding me?  Why are we wasting time on the obvious? You need a man to make babies, deal with it!  The suffragettes and Simone du Beauvoir would turn in their graves.

There are real and bigger issues to discuss, things that we can actual change. This was proved by the ‘’Me Too’’ movement in 2017 and the “R-Kelly” scandal in 2018. Women are still fighting real issues, objectification, sexual harassment, campus rape and including other issues that can be resolved if we start raising feminist men and women.

Yes, men can be feminist too! A feminist man is simply an evolved being. He is a man who stands for equality regardless of gender, social status or sexual orientation.  A feminist man is not a guy who is a savior of women that is just another form of misogyny.  Being a feminist man does not mean that you are effeminate or gay.  While we are raising these amazing men, let’s do the same for our daughters. Let’s raise strong, independent little girls who wear frilly dresses, lipstick and nail polish but are not waiting for prince charming to come save them at the end of the day. Who know that their carriage will not turn into a pumpkin because they have paid their monthly car payment in time!

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