My maternal grandmother climbed trees and refused to marry my grandfather. My grandmother’s daughter knew too much. She was the kind of woman most men aren’t comfortable with. These African women were the first feminists I knew even if they never identified themselves as one. Therefore, when people say feminism is un-African I smile.
Introduction To Feminism
While my mothers never labeled themselves feminists, they knew what they wanted. Growing up around these female figures made me liberal minded enough to question certain stereotypical assumptions. This upbringing unconsciously led me to feminism. In spite of the progress feminism has achieved over the years, third wave feminism still battles with issues such as sexism, inequity, social welfare e.t.c just as the first and second wave of feminism. Rightly, many may question the relevance of feminism in the 21st
century as women do not have it as bad they used to (bad being Mad Men
). However, it is important to note that we as feminists have not yet reached where we ought to be. Where we ought to be is a space where everyone has equal opportunity as rightly stated by Professor Amina Mama and Professor Ama Ata Aidoo.
Feminism Is Neither A Label Nor Gender
In a world of labels, feminism is sometimes worn to feel hip just like natural hair is hip at the moment. As much as I try not to judge people for their brand of feminism or how they chose to express it, I am more inclined to see feminism as a daily, sustained practice. This is not a label one gets to wear or speak about whenever it’s convenient.
Following this line of thought, my feminism is neither sexist nor gendered. Therefore, I do not engage in men versus women discussions or down with patriarchy chants. My version of feminism is grounded in equal opportunity and fairness. It does not blame the men for all the woes befalling women. Yes, a system of patriarchy certainly exists, but the honest truth is when life gives you lemons, you make Lemonade
just as Beyoncé did. Do I hear a formation?
Work Place Feminist
My Version of Feminism
While I am not a cupboard feminist, I am neither a placard carrying one. I have made certain choices not because I have a point to prove, but because I believe in being comfortable in my space. For instance, I hold a camera because I love it, not because I want to prove women can capture moments better. Consequently, to me feminism is not an ideology of competition. When feminism becomes a battle of who did it better, then it is as sexist as the society we are trying to correct. I think we should all be humans and if you’re one for labels feminist is just fine.
Why We Should All Be Feminists
I’ll end this write-up with feminist scholar Dale Spencer’s words.
Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.
Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.
If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?
P.S My feminist grandmother stopped climbing trees and eventually married my grandfather. You probably figured that part already.
Adebisi Adewusi is a writer and photographer. Follow her @biswag.