Feminism: What It is; What It isn’t #Opinion

Credits: Alamy Photo Stock

I am writing this post in response to a number of misunderstandings I see in discussions about Feminism. There are arguments for and against this subject matter and I sense a lot of anger versus misconception. I will try to clear the air a bit in my discussion here.

Now note, you may not agree with all the points I will make here but it promises to be interesting, down to earth and straight from my heart. So please indulge me as I take you true “the blue waters of the world of feminism”.

My definition: “Feminism” is all about celebrating womanhood. It is a movement to give girls and women a voice where they have been relegated to the background. Feminism is empowering the female gender with opportunities and skills required for her to achieve her purpose and dreams. It is fighting for the rights of women and girls. So first of all as a woman you should revel in your gender, it is who you are by the creator’s design.

In recent times the line has become blurry and feminism has become something men feel it is all about losing control and therefore they resist almost in fear or should I say bitterness. On the other hand, some ladies use the movement of feminism as a tool to raise false alarm where it is not necessary or as means to witch hunt a man in their black books.

I believe in having a balanced view of the issue of feminism. It should not be about having a world without men simply because some of the male genders hurt women or because society tends to be a patriarchal one. Come on we all have fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and even male friends who are good people. Society will lose its balance should it try to operate with only one of the genders.

Also some weeks ago the social media was agog with a backlash against a renowned Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adiche because she challenged Hillary Clinton about why she started her Twitter profile page with the word “wife” instead of “mother” first. The argument was that her husband Bill Clinton didn’t even have the title “a husband” as an identity on his twitter page. As much as Chimamanda’s argument is valid I feel it brings up a core understanding of what feminism might mean to this dear lady that I hold in high esteem. It sounded like there was something wrong with Hillary wanting to be identified as a “wife”, on her twitter page. Interestingly I hear Madam Hillary Clinton did change that identity on her twitter page.😊

My Take on this: If a woman chose to be identified as a wife in her profile, seriously it is her right and prerogative. Is Chimamanda trying to make Hillary think less of her husband or not hold dear her family or role as a wife just to show that she is a feminist who must prove a point to her husband and society?  I don’t know, she has a right to her own opinion on the issue.

When it comes to family life we must as women recognize the role each partner has to play in the relationship and respect and love each other. If you are a Chief Executive Director in your office or organization don’t go backing orders at home to your husband! You are courting problems because one of the men’s needs is the need for respect, especially in a marriage setting. So please, by all means, write whatever you wish to be identified as in your profile and don’t let anyone bully you into his or her mold of thinking.

Some Men’s Perspective On the other hand: I have a friend on one of my social media platforms who seems to have drawn a battle line against every female in my opinion and not just us feminists. He practically attacks women and even uses words that I find insulting. I am wondering whether he is married or intends to get married. Looks like someone broke his heart and he hasn’t forgiven whoever that is and every other woman gets the backlash. I also sense that the way some of us feminist brand the flag of fighting the rights of women sounds like men are actually now our enemies. So now on the two side of the divide instead of bridging the gap we are widening it by our actions and misconceptions.

Here is my Take on what Feminism Is and Isn’t

What Feminism Is:

  • It is allowing girls to mature biologically and ensuring that she is given an opportunity to acquire the skills for a meaningful and profitable life before marrying her off. So “Child Marriage or Adolescent marriage” is an act that steals the future and life of a girl.
  • It is giving equal rights to boys and girls to get an education
  • The voice of feminism argues that equal opportunities should be given to boys and girls; men and women to flourish and become all they ever dreamed of. What this means is that If men are going to space a woman should also have the same opportunity to fly to space as long as she is got what it takes. When men are in a leadership position and a woman is got the same skills then she shouldn’t be denied stepping into that position simply because she is a woman.
  • Men and women on the same job should earn equal pay, there should be no discrimination based on gender bases.
  • Feminism promotes the well-being of girls and women and speaks against all forms of cultural, traditional and religious beliefs that cause harm to the female gender. These include issues like the right to own property and land; the right to work even though she is a wife; reproductive health rights ( Ending discriminatory and harmful practices like female genital mutilation);
  • Feminism drives and speaks for social justice

Now to what Feminism is not:

  • It is not a war with men; as women, we have fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons.
  • Feminism is not a tool of blackmail against any male a woman wishes to take advantage of.
  • It is not a flag women wave every time we want to have our way.
  • Feminism is not an excuse to not acquiring the necessary skills required to occupy a leadership position. You have got to work for it and be better than the men even so that any male chauvinist in the room will have no choice but to respect your skills and guts.
  • Feminism is not a magic wand in a marriage relationship. Be careful how you use this in a marriage situation. Except in a situation where abuse is the other of the day then a woman can speak up and say no to the injustice and harm.

As we say in debate clubs in my secondary school days: “I hope I have been able to convince and not confuse you with my arguments”. 😀Hey …I am only saying we should take things easy; we need each other. Let us all reach out across the table and try to understand one another as men and women and work together!

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

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#NAWOJ Ibadan – International women’s day Celebration 2018 in Pictures

The Nigerian Women Journalists Ibadan chapter commemorated the 2018 International women’s day with a lecture which brought together women at the community level ; female politicians, Intellectuals, religious leaders and a good number of men who support women any day.

The event took place at the Nigerian Union of Journalist conference hall Iyaganku Ibadan today, 9th March 2018.
Theme: Progress For Women in Governance.

In a next post I will update you about the highlights and interesting points of view for now enjoy The Event in Pictures:

Honourable Mulikat Adeola – Mother of the Day /Chairman
Mrs Foluso Lala – NAWOJ president, Oyo state
Guest Lecturer : Mr Soji Eniade Executive assistant to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on administration
Mrs Adekiitan Adeegbe – immediate past chairperson NUJ Oyo and Mrs Morenike Tony-Esan National Vice president B Zone NUJ.

NUJ chairman Oyo State – Mr Adewunmi Faniran presenting an award to Hon. Mulikat Adeola

Mc : Jade Inspiration FM
A journalist from Premier FM 93.5 – Bukola Adesakin – reading the citations of Awardees

Me, Stella Oyebanji posing with Honorable Mulikat Adeola

Female Journalists posing in a picture with Hon. Mulikat Adeola

 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Project Director Beehyve Initiative. Consultant Dev. Communication, Creative writer, journalist. 

International Day of The Girl Child, 2017

The International Day of the girl child is celebrated on the 11th of October every year, the world over.

The general theme according to the UN Women is tagged, “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict. Many parts of the world in recent times have various forms of conflicts and war. No continent is left out of the heart wrenching mindless killings. Families and everyone who find themselves caught in these conflicts suffer so much loss no doubt.

In Nigeria, we have the Boko Haram conflict in the northeast and many girls and women have been abducted. They are made to cook, clean and carry out the menial chores for the terrorist. Aside these,  the girls are forced to become young wives and mothers. I can not imagine the emotional trauma and conflicts that go on in the minds of these victims. Thankfully some have regained their freedom. How much of rehabilitation work is being done to reintegrate them into society is another matter entirely. But many other girls were used as child suicide bombers and others caught in between the crossfire lost their lives.

It is my hope and great heart desire that the war against insurgency and terrorism will be won in the northeast Nigeria and the world over. (This feels like a very tall dream). But we can still make the world safer for every girl and everyone as we each person begins to value peace and other human beings.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Why would a Bride do this…?

bride-veil-2Martha (not real name) fell in love with a young man, John (not real name). They both had just graduated from school. Everyone loved the couple; it felt like a relation made in heaven. Their love blossomed and soon talks about marriage popped up. Martha and her fiancé decided to tie the knot and their families began the wedding preparation in earnest. Everyone looked forward to a memorable day.
It was a bright and sunny morning. Jubilation was in the air. The wedding guests who had come from the community and nearby cities bustled with laughter and jesting filled the atmosphere. Other young ladies were teased to hurry and invite them for their own celebration.

The groom was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to take the vows with the love of his life. He waited at the altar smiling and waiting to catch a glimpse of his beautiful bride in her cutely sewn wedding gown. A gloomy face emerged and ran to the altar towards the groom… everyone wondered, the news soon filtered around, “Martha, the bride to be had run away”.

It looked like a scene from the movie, “Runaway Bride”, as I listened to this story but no it was a true life‘s experience.

Why did Martha run on the day she had looked forward to all her life? She ran because she couldn’t face John. She had a secret… “Her vagina was covered with keloid. Martha is one of many girls who gets cut on their vagina when they attain puberty. The flesh around her vagina had been cut and it formed a big scared tissue. She was ashamed, she was afraid to let John see that ugly overgrown scared tissue, now formed keloid on her vagina.

What this means for Martha/How Keloid in the vagina can affect a person’s wellbeing and life:

  • Scar  which grows excessively into Keloid tissue can be embarrassing to the individual; create uneasiness.
  • Affects the person psychologically as she might feel less beautiful about herself.
  • Keloid tissue scar makes the skin around the area it occupies less elastic which can affect certain nerves causing pain.
  • Martha is likely to experience itching and  pain during urination, menstrual flow and sex.
  • Would her husband/partner be willing to accept her as she is. He might be turned off sexually and this will not do their relationship any good.
  • She might need a cosmetic surgery and the process of treating Keloid might be a long journey. That is the swollen tissue every clears completely.

This is one of the heartbreaking stories i came away with from a radio drama script writing workshop on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) organized by Unicef in partnership with the Ministry of information Nigeria. It was an eye-opening experience.

You know sometimes we think that we know so much about a subject or issue simply because it’s a familiar subject. I am very familiar with and have lend my voice to creating awareness about the effect of female circumcision known as female genital mutilation /cutting in the past. But statistics and real life stories told by facilitators and other participants showed that the consequences of female genitalmutilation/cutting is far deeper and grave than i thought.

One thing is clear that a lot still needs to be done about changing perceptions and achieving behavioral change towards the practice of Female genital mutilation/cutting.

Many women and families suffer great consequences long after the female genitalia cutting. #EndFGM/C

end-fgm

Why is this tradition and practice still been upheld in many communities around the world?

Some people have replaced genital cutting with another practice and they justify it. What is the new trend?

I will be sharing more stories from FGM/C world in a series of  posts.

Photo Credit: DHgate.com – Wedding Veil Cathedral Thick Lace Manthila bridal veil.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)