Last updated on September 5th, 2023 at 07:41 am
When did you last wordup? I’m sure this is your first time hearing the term “wordup.” Go ahead and read the previous post, then let me know your answer to the question in the comment section of the post.
Today’s post is a continuation of ‘Diaries of a Male Feminist‘. Click here to read Part 1 if you haven’t already. Continue reading if you have. Don’t forget to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.
Feminism vs modern feminism
The word “equality” is to blame here. In the reductionist definition, equality denotes “same,” “exact,” or “sameness.” We have previously shown that men and women vary on several levels. As a result, both sexes cannot be treated equally in all situations. Peter, you’re now contradicting yourself. How can you suggest both sexes cannot be treated equally if you claim to be a feminist now, since feminists believe in equality for women? It is important to understand that there has been a recent distinction between feminism and modern feminism.
Professor Lumumba on modern feminism
Professor Patrick Lumumba in his commentary on feminism said;
…but Africa is the land of men and women. First of all, remember that we are speaking in English. If you are speaking in Zulu, on in Inova or Ivibundu or Tev, or Igbo or Yoruba or Kikui or Luoyo, would you have a word like femininism (*sic feminism)? No. The whole idea about women being mistreated and therefore a movement of women whose agenda is to fight men…because feminism understood in the modern world, is almost as if there is a war or battle between men and women. And that I think is wrong. I believe that in areas where men have not conducted themselves well in their relationship with women, positive steps, deliberate steps should be taken to ensure that men involve women or that women are involved. Rather than men involving women because that also assumes that men have something that they are giving out of their good will and charity. So, I do not support any movement which characterizes the relationship of men and women as if it was a war to be won by one side. So, if there is that war when you win what should you do? This is the question that must be posed.
Photo Credit: The African Courier
I’m relieved I wasn’t alone in my confusion. Don’t get ahead of Prof. Lumumba just yet. He was forthright enough to clarify that ‘feminism understood in the modern world is almost as if there is a war or battle between men and women.’ This is where feminism received its negative stereotype—from the way certain women portrayed it. It’s tricky here, but consider this question, which Ama posed to me later on in our conversation. ‘Will you say a rape victim is making noise while she is screaming for help?’
Modern feminists typically condemn men harshly and hold them responsible for societal injustices brought on by patriarchy. Men are totally responsible for societal inequity. This was my understanding of feminism for a long time until I chose to look it up. The original purpose of the feminist movement has been surpassed by the emergence of modern feminism. The birth of modern feminism hastened the creation of the anti-feminist movement, with which some women identify. I was shocked to learn this. I mean, why would a woman identify as an anti-feminist? I listened to every feminist argument I could get my hands on.
The TED Talk for a male feminist
In the course of my research on feminism, I watched a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her talk was titled “We Should All Be Feminists.” It was during her talk that I first learned what feminism was. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie narrated:
I think very often of my dear friend Okuloma; may he and all the others that passed away in that Sosoliso Crash continue to rest in peace. He will always be remembered by those of us who loved him. And he was right that day many years ago when he called me a feminist. I am a feminist. And when I looked up the word in the dictionary that day, this is what it said: “feminist, a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Photo credit: The Guardian
Why the fuss about feminism?
The Meriam Webster’s Dictionary defines feminism as the belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, expressed especially through organised activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Did you notice that the idea of feminism implies gender equality? That must be a good thing, right? Why is it referred to as feminism? Isn’t it more accurate to call it humanism? It’s not a difficult nut to crack. I can still hear myself asking Ama, “Why all the fuss about equality?” I locked my gaze on Ama, as if I could read her thoughts. She said something that made me vow never to accept any form of oppression again. Ama’s gaze remained fixed. ‘Will you say a rape victim is making noise while she is screaming for help?’ she asked. I left Next Door Beach Resort with a fresh perspective on feminism. If feminism was about freedom of choice and not targeting males, then I was a feminist.
If it were your sister
Other experiences had engraved feminism on my mind before this conversation with Ama, but I hadn’t paid attention to them. When my younger sister was about to begin university, my mother pulled me aside and said, “You must remember your sister in your prayers. She’s a woman, you know, and this moment of her life is crucial. If she hangs out with the wrong guys while she’s a girl, a guy can ruin her life by getting her pregnant.”
My thoughts raced with the myriad possibilities of what may derail my sister’s academic trajectory as a result of her gender. Pregnancy without consent, rape, and sexual assault are all possible. I had to console myself by hoping that my sister would make the right choice. It didn’t take long for me to learn that comforting myself was a much more practical option. Even if my sister made the right choice, someone may take it away from her. This was not a fabrication of my imagination. Many of my female friends have had their options restricted. I’ve had to pay medical fees as well as provide a sympathetic ear to victims of physical and sexual assault. Read the post on Comprehensive Sexuality Ignorance to learn about the bottlenecks that deprive sex of its charm.
Opportunity vs Outcome
I continued my investigation. I was browsing Dr. Peter Boghossian’s YouTube videos one day. My attention was instantly drawn to a video titled “Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome.” This term was frequently used in feminist discussions. I had never invested the time to learn more about it. Equality is classified into two types: opportunity and outcome. Equality of opportunity is concerned with the starting line, whereas equality of result is concerned with the finish line. In an equal-opportunity society, access to resources and their availability are more important than the outcome they create. When there is equality of outcome, the final product is more important than the raw material.
Photo Credit: Times Higher Education
What connection does this have to the feminist debate? Women, according to feminists, are treated ‘unjustly’ in society. As a result, this strengthens the case for equal opportunity. Women must be provided with equal opportunities. I’m in favour of this.
I have some misgivings about the rationale for equality of outcome. Certain feminists argue for this case. They claim that in order to balance the equation, an equal number of women must be present, for example, in some male-dominated areas. This means that in every aspect of society, an equal number of men and women must be at the helm. This has the disadvantage of making quantity rather than quality the benchmark of comparison. The fact that equality of outcome limits opportunities is another problem.
A quick example
Outcome depends on opportunity. A series of events has an impact on an outcome. Consider this: You’re making your way from Accra to London. You may like to travel by bicycle. I could ride my motorbike instead. Someone could decide to drive. And yet another individual might opt to travel by air. If we opted to measure the outcome against time, all other things being equal, we wouldn’t have to argue over who would arrive in London first.
Everybody has the freedom to pick their mode of transportation, making this a perfect example of equality of opportunity. The emphasis here is not on the outcome, which is your arrival time in London. In contrast, equality of outcome occurs when all forms of transit must arrive in London at the same time. In this scenario, we are limited to selecting aircraft because our aim is to get from Accra to London as fast as possible. Or must we? There is yet another way to change how important the outcome is. This would suggest that you arrive in London at the same time, rather than travelling to London as fast as possible. This would imply that instead of arriving in London as quickly as possible, you arrive at the same time. Huh? How is this possible, one would wonder? How is it possible for a vehicle, motorbike, bicycle, and aeroplane to arrive at the same time? It’s not that difficult. The aeroplane, car, and motorcycle must travel at a constant pace that does not overtake or lag behind the bicycle. They must constantly be coordinated.
An equal playing field
In her comment, she stated: ‘Feminists are not looking for a world or society where women are the ones in charge. We are only advocating for equal playing field.‘
Send your girl child to school campaign
Let me remind you that educating the girl child in Ghana was unheard of a few decades ago. Woe unto you if you were born a female; you will be destined for the kitchen and groomed as a housewife. Fathers would encourage their boys to get the highest education possible while neglecting their daughters’ education. However, many families were made aware of the value of educating girls thanks to sensitization campaigns. Many people today, particularly men, regard gender equality as a war on masculinity.
The idea will be lost on many men. Freedom of choice is central to feminism. That is the foundation. Freedom from the history of female oppression. I believe the difficulty in adopting feminism stems from the fact that many men, to use a religious expression, are “born in sin.” We are born into a world where we inherit the crimes of our forefathers, just as a white male child born today will be labelled as a racist for the crimes of slavery committed by his forefathers through no fault of his own, and a black man will feel entitled to see this white man apologise for the past.
When I wrote The Groom Price, I was considered insane. The common response was, ‘A man is supposed to….’
And it’s fascinating to note that many men are not victims of ignorance but victims of ego, who blindly perpetuate an erroneous culture that pulls the human out of man, thereby becoming their own oppressors. Men don’t cry. Men are supposed to be courageous. Men are supposed to be in charge. The list goes on. Toxic masculinity refers to a collection of attitudes and behaviours that are stereotypically connected with or expected of males and are seen to have a detrimental influence on men and society as a whole. Homophobia, the craving for control, irresponsibility, refusal to assist with home chores, sexual aggressiveness towards women, stoicism, and violence are a few examples of traits that border on toxic masculinity.
Feminism encourages the rejection of harmful aspects of traditional masculinity that can negatively impact men’s mental health and relationships. It emphasizes the importance of emotional expression, empathy, and healthy relationships. Men who embrace feminism can challenge societal expectations that limit their emotional well-being and personal growth. For instance, a man who promotes open dialogue about mental health, rejects violence as a means of resolving conflicts, and supports nurturing and caring roles for men in society is challenging toxic masculinity norms.
Feminsim is not a war on gender
Feminism is a range of socio-political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism holds the position that societies prioritize the male point of view and that women are treated unjustly in these societies. Feminism advocates for gender equality, striving to eliminate gender-based discrimination and biases. Men should be feminists because it benefits them as well as society as a whole. By supporting feminist ideals, men contribute to creating a fairer and more inclusive world.
Feminism is not a war on gender. It is a fight against oppression. I hate oppression! Remember Ama’s question.
‘Will you say a rape victim is making noise while she is screaming for help?’