“Every woman should be a feminist. If you are not a feminist, then you must be against women’s progress and freedom”, I hear this statement often.
First of all, this article is not meant to criticize feminists or feminism itself, instead, it is aimed at rebranding and relabeling the terminology and folk etymology of feminism for both contemporary men and women.
The idea of universal feminism has entered deep into popular culture like never before. Quite a number of contemporary feminists are unwilling to share space with non feminists that hold different opinions and this made me wonder what feminism has become. I have seen and heard feminists call women who are non feminists ignorant. I have also heard some address men who are non feminists as people who hate women. When contemporary feminists listen to women that are non feminists reasons for not associating with the label, they often publicly shame them to feel better about their own ‘woke way’ of labeling and thinking.
In other to make the purpose of this article more stark, it is important to swiftly tell the history of feminism and how it metamorphoses into the contemporary feminism which is universally known as the fourth wave feminism. The first wave feminism started as a movement that focused on overturning legal inequalities in 1848 at Seneca Falls Convention, New York. The feminists as at then wanted the female education right, the right to own properties, the right to birth control, legalization of abortion and particularly, the right to participate in politics as they fought for the abolition of slavery. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote in US through the 19th amendment.
The second wave feminism kick started in the 1960s resulting to the struggle against social and cultural inequalities such as gender discrimination. Women then wanted basic control of their own lives; more than homemaking positions after their college graduations. They wanted a better working conditions for women. This was a good fight that was continued in the third wave feminism.
Third wave feminism started in the early 1990s in response to what was perceived as failure of the second wave feminism. Third wave feminists fought to hasten social acceptance of female sexual freedom. As it was normal for men to have multiple sexual partners without criticism, feminists, then, seeked sexual equality and encouraged sexual liberation for women including sex for pleasure with multiple partners, if desired.
Consequently, in 2008, the Fourth wave feminism addressed sexual inequalities such as street harassment, sexual harassment, workplace sexual discrimination, domestic violence against women, gender role discrimination and so on.
In 2014, Betty Dodson, who is recognized as one of the leaders of the feminist movement, worked with women to discover their sexual desires through mastubation. In a conference, she stated how her work has been a force to reckon with, as it has gained a fresh lease of life with a new audience of young, successful women who have never had an orgasm before
However, unlike a number of non feminists, I do not consider the activities of the feminists as inconsequential. Instead, I challenge our understanding of feminism as being about equality. As I took my pen to start writing this article, I asked my 14yrs sister if she knows “what feminism is”. She had no idea but, she innocently told me it must be about women and not men because the terminology sounds feminine.
In fact, it is unarguable that the whole activities of feminism centers around the female gender only and thus, I ponder if there is ever a male crisis? Male problems are so invisible in the feminist movement.
Some times, I wonder if feminism is really about equality, if it goes the both ways- male and female, then, why are men and boys left behind in the movement? Does it mean that a male person does not face societal crisis too?
The society simply care less about the male persons as much as we care about the female folks. We have forgotten there are crisis that are connected to behavioural disorders of many boys in our society. We are fast to conclude that men are men and they can deal with their crisis on their own. Nigeria, for instance, is rapidly producing boys that are harmful to the society due to the less attention the society gives them. These harmful boys and their crisis seem invisible to us. I once heard a story of an American feminist mother whose little son innocently accused of not caring about him because she had always lived her life for the empowerment of female persons that she almost forgot that he exist. Does it mean that the little boy does not deserve her attention because he is born male? Does it mean the little boy does not have crisis too? Does it mean the little boy should deal with his crisis himself? Has it ever occur to you that young boys are also being sexually abused. I have heard boys narrate how they were lured into having sexual relationships with older women who are mostly their female school teachers, neighbors, aunties, sister’s friend or mummy’s friend at their young ages. It is ironical that the society fights male pedophiles and female pedophiles seem to be invisible to us. Doesn’t it seem like the terminology “pedophile” is a popular title for male persons alone?
When you visit prisons, you will find out prisons are basically centers for young boys in their 20s and 30s. More than 85 precent of prisoners at the kirikiri prison in Lagos and agodi prison in Ibadan are young boys and men. I’m not saying 50:50 should be applied in prisons. What about we tackle the male crisis that lead them to prisons. I came across a research presentation early last year that shows the rate at which people committed suicide between 2014-2017. The presentation showed that a large number of persons that committed suicide between those years were mostly male. Statistics shows that most suicide is as a result of mental trauma caused by pressure from both the society and family. All these go to show that we pay less attention to the psychological and social welfare of the male persons. This so-called feminization of home training/education is a major contributing factor to the male problems.
The word FEMINISM is stalling and corrupting the movement, the terminology has overdue and outlived its time. We can live in an equal and welcoming society, but, for me, it begins with rebranding and renaming the word, “FEMINISM”.
Let me sight an example of how renaming of terminology (Folk Etymology) allowed us to view the gay marriage institution differently. Calling the marriage institution gay marriage made its opposers to focus on the differences between same sex and opposite sex marriage and not the purpose and essence of marriage itself, which is the coming together of two persons that love each other. After years passed, this terminology was changed from gay marriage or same sex marriage movement to the “Marriage Equality Movement” and people began to see reasons to vindicate the movement until it became legally accepted in some countries. It was no longer gay marriage, it became marriage equality. This new terminology changed the whole conversation.
If feminism must be something that all women and men can get on board with, then, it should rather be called EQUALISM instead of FEMINISM. This new terminology would change the conversation because it would psychologically and unconsciously create a balance between the two genders. I would unapologetically say that feminism in recent time has separated and divided us as humans, just like color and race had done to us. Be an EQUALIST because they advocate equality and not all feminist do.
I am Òtúnba Ajíbólá Emeritus and I am an equalist and not a feminist.