Why am I afraid to be a feminist?
I would like you to take a moment and consider the question. Ponder the reasons for your confusion, disgust, or exhaustion as your mind gathers those all-too-familiar words of rebuttal. You argue that God did not create us equally or women already have opportunities. I challenge you to consider the definition of the word and the power it should truly hold.
In this article, I beseech you to open your mind; do not hide behind the shield of religion and/or culture. Do not succumb to the misconception that “feminists do crazy things”. Many often argue, “there is no need to call it feminism”. It is time as a society that we take back the power of the word feminism; by breaking the stigma and embracing the word for what it truly means.
Why we are afraid to be feminists?
I, too, was afraid of being associated with the word. But in contrast, I passionately believe in women’s rights. I cringed at the typical underlying misogynistic ideas I encountered in my everyday life. However, my fear halted me in my tracks. This fear was rooted in offending the males in my life. I assumed that being a feminist meant intimidating men. This was because feminism upset them by making them feel attacked simply for being male.
Seeking equality for people of color is not an attack on white people. Likewise, feminism is not an anti-men movement. Being a feminist is simply pro-women advocacy. In other words, promoting women’s rights does not automatically mean the displacement or negation of male’s rights. Feminism simply means uplifting the rights of the disadvantaged gender.
Women in the media are giving away the power
We are afraid of being called feminists because women in media are afraid of associating with feminism. DJ Cuppy, like many other women, was afraid of how voicing feminist ideas would bruise men in her industry.
“I think it’s amazing – young females doing what we’ve been told we can’t do, and I really feel like women are very powerful. I had to leave Nigeria to realise my power because a lot of times as a woman you are constricted in what you can do and what you can achieve.”DJ Cuppy, CNN July, 2018
After several men and women took offense to the above words that support the feminist movement, in a radio interview, she quickly backtracked,
“I would never come out as a feminist because I’m in a male-dominated industry so I have certain scenarios where … I deal with men on a day-to-day basis and I realise they are always going to think they are better than women…If I sat down all day and spoke about how hard it is being a woman, I wouldn’t have time to be here because I would be somewhere in Alade market, talking about how women need better rights,”DJ Cuppy, CNN July, 2018
This is a typical example of women in the media shying away from feminism for fear of going against typical cultural norms.
The core of feminism in Nigeria
“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression of human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “We Should All Be Feminists“
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti(1900-1978) was a Nigerian educator and political campaigner. She was a suffragist and women’s rights activist who paved the way for feminism in Nigeria. “The Lioness of Lisa,” a voice for the oppressed, defined feminism in Nigeria. This woman paints a clear picture of feminism’s core.
Feminism seeks to challenge ingrained societal structures. It is much more than just an ideology, it is a human responsibility.
The balance between Christianity and feminism
As a Christian, the word of God is fundamental in all my endeavors in life.
Ephesians 5:22-24 reads,
“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body”
Being a Christian feminist does not negate or invalidate the word of God. Marriage is a team, and every effort and every role is fundamental to its success in a team. In a team, all members are equal human beings.
If both parties agree to the change in this dynamic, there can be such a change. So, what ultimately matters is acknowledging every individual is gifted with choice. A woman can decide to conform to the culture and religion in which her life is centered around. A woman can also decide to deviate from such domestic norms without the fear of being rejected by society. True feminism, by definition, is respecting individual choice; an unconventional decision does not make one less or more human than another.
The universal truth
On the other hand, outside the institution of marriage, a man is not my leader. Anyone at the head of the career food chain is not the leader of any female outside a professional setting. In other words, being a man does not make one superior to the other. This is important to note.
Removing all forms of class superiority and societal hierarchies of any kind, a man and a woman are equal. A man and a woman deserve equal rights embedded in the law.
I deserve the right to be viewed for my accomplishments- irrespective of my marital status- and a man should have such a right. The right to be seen as more than a body or an object of sexual pleasure. Likewise, a man has such a right too. The right to move up the corporate ladder at the same pace and with the same pay as my male counterparts. Not being the target of sexual assault is my right. The right to be president of my nation, to end the patriarchy. I have the right to be taken seriously in any industry. I have the right to demand such and more.
We have the right to demand equality.
Taking back the power in feminism
We take back this power by speaking up. So, all genders must put aside their fear and stand up for what they believe in. We all have a duty to speak up and project positive voices advocating for the betterment of humanity. Examples of this are Angela Davis, The Feminist Coalition, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lizzo, Meghan Markle, Mindy Kaling, and others.
I imagine a world where every individual is treated equally and seen for what they have to offer – their ideas, support, or simply their presence. I imagine a world where anyone can attain anything fairly and justly. With equality of the sexes comes men’s freedom from bondage because of this ingrained “superiority” associated with maleness.
That is why I implore you- whoever reading this article, regardless of your gender, to be proud of feminists, to become one, to lend your voice, to give a platform to the voices advocating for good, to drown out the bad voices and to take back the power and definition in the word feminism.