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Cisi Eze: Feminism – the New F-Word

Cisi Eze

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At a restaurant, someone said, “I support feminism, but I don’t want anyone to call me a feminist. You can call me an egalitarianist, just not a feminist.”

Salt giggled. “I want to be called Sodium Chloride. Please, don’t call me salt.”

“Oh! You guys play too much!” Water laughed loud, almost drawing attention to the table. After regaining composure, Water stated, “Please call me H2O, not water.”

Feminism, a movement that promotes social equality along sex/gender lines, is almost like a cuss word to some people. What is it about being feminist that makes some people reject it?

Feminism, as an ideology, promotes social equality for everyone regardless of sex. It challenges the pre-existing notion of patriarchy – a system of society that makes men leaders, without taking into cognisance that leadership is not a skill that comes pre-installed by virtue of having a phallus.

What sexists do not realise is that people aspiring to live up to their potentials do not pose a threat to anyone. It is tiring when we flatter men by saying female feminists are trying to be men. “Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.” – Simone de Beauvoir, “The Second Sex”.

The crux of feminism is that everyone, regardless of sex, should have the opportunity to achieve their full potentials without limiting them based on labels, factors, circumstances they do not choose if they are not hurting anyone.

If only sexists would pick a book and educate their minds, they would realise that feminism is not misandry. Then again, it is possible they know, but for the fear of losing their patriarchy-given privileges, they try so hard to fight it.

Feminism does not preclude men, because the system feminism is striving to eradicate puts men at a disadvantage, too. Patriarchy peddles toxic ideas of gender (masculinity and femininity). Conversely, feminism says there are many ways to express masculinity and femininity. “The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we ´should’ be rather than recognizing how we are.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We Should All Be Feminists”.

Without males as allies in struggle, feminist movement will not progress. As it is, we have to do so much work to correct the assumption deeply embedded in the cultural psyche that feminism is anti-male. Feminism is anti-sexism. A male who is divested of male privilege, who has embraced feminist politics, is a worthy comrade in struggle, in no way a threat to feminism, whereas a female who remains wedded to sexist thinking and behaviour infiltrating feminist movement is a dangerous threat. (…) The threat, the enemy, is sexist thought and behaviour.” – bell hooks’ “Feminism Is for Everybody.”

Everyone should be feminist, as it is the rational, humane, sane thing to be in the 21st century. There is no logical reason to support any form of prejudice – racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, or classism.

There are no grey areas in this case: it is either one is sexist or feminist. A feminist who keeps quiet in the face of sexism is guilty of being sexist, because silence in the face of injustice makes one complicit.

P.S. I think we should have a Fourth-Wave of Feminism. Recently, women in Saudi Arabia were given the license to drive; however, does this mean less sexism in the Middle East?

The Fourth-Wave would emphasise on everyone rejecting the benefits patriarchy has given them. This system of society gives women benefits at the peril of men. Women have privileges, too. Nonetheless, these benefits insidiously make women seem weak according to the consensus of strength and weakness.

It might seem as though men and women have equal rights, but these privileges keep dragging us back. Feeling entitled to a man’s money is a female privilege. If women can stop feeling entitled to men’s money, women would be motivated to make money.

Money of her own is a woman’s best protection: money insulates a person from disrespect.

Patriarchy thrives on the financial and sexual dependence of women. Patriarchy would end the moment we (women) become financially independent while owning our bodies and our sexualities. Think about it.

History shows us clearly that the father was keen on knowing who his real children were, solely for the purpose of handing down his landed property to them. The patriarchal family, therefore, came into existence mainly for economic reasons. It was necessary for society simultaneously to build up a system of moral and religious values, as well as a legal system capable of protecting and maintaining these economic interests. In the final analysis, we can safely say that female circumcision, the chastity belt, and other savage practices applied to women are basically the result of economic interests that govern society.” – Nawal El Saadawi,The Hidden Face of Eve”.

Photo Credit: Duncan Marshall | Dreamstime

Cisi Eze is a Lagos-based journalist, writer, comic artist, and graphics designer.She feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health, and this is expressed through her articles as a guest contributor on Bella Naija, her blog – Shades of Cisi, a podcast she co-presents – We Said It, and an online radio show – Stirring the Waters. Aside these, she has works on Kalahari Review, The Rustin Times, Outcast Magazine, Holaafrica, Mounting the Moon, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2.Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.

8 Comments

  1. european

    October 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    op pls state what and where females have been prejudiced, when ever i see post on feminism i check to see if i will say oh then i’m a feminist but i hardly could find, ‘bellanaija pls next time post on feminism should clearly stated (1.._ what and what females have being deprived of ‘ 2. Are you an african feminist or European feminist 3. Are you a moderate or extreme feminist (bkoz where a feminist view of feminism stops, that’s where another feminist;s own begins) All i have been seeing are post on feminism without any scope what so ever, the previous post on feminism ended saying that just recently some rights where giving to women is saudi arabia to drive, and i’m like is that not a religion issue? Abeg you guys on feminism should stop abeg.

  2. jess

    October 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    give a dog a bad name so you can kill it. That is what is happening to feminism. A term so simple is all of a sudden made ambigious.

    I learnt a trick, whenever anyone gets into arguement of not supporting feminism, I pull up the definition and ask them which part they do not support. Thank God for smart phones.

    The patriarchy system has been here for so long and will not go without a fight by the people that enjoy the privileges it provides. In my opinion, the easiest way to bring about this change starts at home. Bringing up the next generation (male and female) with the notion of equality and not entitlement based on ones gender.

    • Fash

      October 17, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      feminism
      ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/Submit
      noun
      the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Feminism is for women’s right lets not twist and turn it into men and women’s right.

      So by definition — “Bringing up the next generation (male and female) with the notion of equality and not entitlement based on ones gender. is not feminism” — it is Egalitarian.

      Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning ‘equal’) – or equalitarianism – is a school of thought that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

      Question– are you really a feminist or an Egalitarian?

  3. Neil Strauss

    October 17, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Feminism will continue to be confusing. I prayed to God not to let me read that famous line ‘pick a book and read about it’ but then again, I found it embedded somewhere in this article thereby making seem like a joke to me. It’s sounds like when women don’t have anything to say so they find a way to get at you so the fingers can point somewhere else than at them.

    If the struggle was called masculinism instead of feminism, I’m sure some women will fight that why should it be coined from something relating to male.

    Male and female can never be the same. Our body chemistry and structure sef doesn’t agree to us being the same. While we should have equal opportunity, majority of what women are fighting for is just not possible. You want equal pay for a job that requires more physical strength that you can’t handle. You risk company’s production by taking maternity leave but get angry when this companies choose not to hire you because they can’t risk those time you’ll take maternity leave of which there are a million and one others that will gladly take you. You people should find one place to sit down abeg with this yeye movement.

  4. passingby

    October 17, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    @fash thank you oh! Oya come and answer kwesion. You guys just love to form yeyefowl Woke tinz , u just learn some arbitrary trending word and run with it but cant form a clear picture of what it means in the right context. please educate yall selves google is not an institution of excellence.

  5. gbaskelebo

    October 17, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Not this crap again… I am not you and you are not me, nature imbued us with different functions and society through interaction over time defined our roles, I would not even call it a school of thought neither will I address it as a “TRUTH” because it has not been defined as being self evident yet! leave it at that and suck it up already, you have harped on it for way too long!

  6. gbaskelebo

    October 17, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Not this crap again… I am not you and you are not me, nature imbued us with different functions and society through interaction over time defined our roles, I would not even call it a school of thought neither will I address it as a “TRUTH” because it has not been defined as being self evident yet! leave it at that and suck it up already, you have harped on it for way too long!

  7. kool

    October 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Amazing write-up

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