Below is an interesting write-up by Olanrewaju Olamide Morenikeji and largely a response to a previous article on Feminism. It's his first time being featured as a guest writer on my blog and I hope it won't be the last because his views are rather captivating.
Olanrewaju Olamide Morenikeji writes from Ibadan, Nigeria.
Read and please do share with every one you know.
I read Olutayo Lois Ugbe's article titled 'Feminism, What They Will Not Tell You'. Therein, explicitly stated were certain views expressed to be hypocritical and detrimental on Feminism's front. It is of my view however, that most, if not all of these points are wobbly and unfound.
I wouldn't have replied this, but misconceptions and misrepresentations of the tenets feminism uphold and gross misunderstanding of the ideology ran agog too much in the article to be ignored, and also because members of society who thoroughly understand feminism are meagre as compared to those who do not. Feminism is bigger than one person, and any feminist could have easily replied the article. But feminism has been associated with man-hate for so long. It is of utmost importance therefore, that a man do this, because if it were a woman, she'd be unequivocally termed a noisemaker and another angry feminist.
A man and a woman are two obviously distinct entities. They have different biological composition, intrinsically and extrinsically. If we were created, and I reckon we were, our Creator knew what (S)He was doing when (S)He created us differently. It would be outrightly foolish for one sex to demand to be exactly like the other. It would also be outrightly unfair for one sex to deprive another full attainment opportunity of its potential. It would be unfair for one sex to subjugate and degrade the other. In the most simplest of words; Feminism demands that women be recognized first as women. Not somebody's mother, somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's wife, or somebody's somebody. It demands that women be truly recognized as human and somebody first before anything else.
Aristotle once called women deformed men. During the Roman empire, women were only a tad superior to slaves and the only real powerful women of that era were the vestal Virgins. In the Bible, Jewish laws forced a rapist to marry the woman he raped. This directly put the woman in an abusive position (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). By the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas called women defective naturally and misbegotten men. Aristotle's views on women as imperfect men became the basis of religious beliefs and praxis. A typical book in point is the Malleus Maleficarium (The Hammer of Witches), written by Heinrich Kramer and James Spregner. (Towards Feminist Theatre in Nigeria, by Juliana Okoh, 2012).
But sprinkles of personalities arose to punctuate these adverse practices against women with a little bit of sanity. Sir Thomas Moore advocated for the education of women, so did Desidaurus Erasmus. Perhaps without these people, women would still remain uneducated today. We forget that our true African mothers were feminists. The Inkpi of Igala, Moremi of Ife, Queen Daura of Daura, Queen Anima of Zazzau, Queen Kambasa of Bonny, Nana Asma'u of Sokoto, Iyalode Efunsetan Aniwura of Ibadan, Omu Okwei of Osomari, Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Madam Ransome Kuti, Aduni Oluwole, The Queen Mothers in Benin City, Leaders of the Aba Women's Riot, Madam Eniola Soyinka, Okonjo Iweala, and soonest, Ngozi Adichie. Is it not curious that history perpetually left more than half of these women out of our textbooks?
Norms are determined by society, and society is a collection of man. Man who sins, man who is faulted, man who is imperfect, invariably, society and its normative can also be faulted and partial. There is a possibility that whichever sex has more power at any point in time will dominate and foist its will on the weaker sex. I will ignore the first and second waves of feminism, because as pertinent as history is, and as much as the present is a definitive porousness of it, we must live and act for the present, not the past, so lets talk about the inherent flaws cited in this third wave.
Feminism does not say that abortion is no big deal and it doesn't cover it up with 'it's their body'. The truth, according to a majority foundation;
Abortion is a necessity for millions of women worldwide, for their health, for their wellbeing, for their dreams of a better tomorrow. The reality is that a woman will seek an abortion—legal or otherwise—almost instinctively and in self defense. A woman will do this when an unwanted pregnancy presents an excessive strain on her or her family’s physical, emotional or economic resources. When forces beyond control come to play, should hands be clasped on backs? Should established lives be watched to wither away for the sake of an unborn foetus?
The Nigerian constitution of 1999, chapter IV states that: Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of her/his person. No one has the authority to pass judgement on morality, because religion indelibly reminds us that we were all born sinners. What feminism does is to access the situation and determine whether a man would have been treated likewise in that same situation. Feminism is not about wearing a particular type of clothing. It only demands that nobody be judged on the basis of what they wear, and this lies in the inherent factor of every individual being her/his principal choicemaker. Feminism demands that women should wear whatever they're comfortable in and not what is foisted upon them by the diktat of societal normatives. Adichie is a staunch feminist and she doesn't wear 'revealing' clothings. Beyonce is also a feminist and she finds comfortability in 'revealing' clothings. It would be myopic of anyone to gauge another's character by what they decide to wear or the make up on their face.
Homosexuality is agreeably a tentative topic. I would like to bring you back to my earlier stated stance on adulthood and liberal choices. Feminism demands the respect of individualistic opinions. I am straight, and I believe union between man and woman is the normal practice, and because one feminist believes homosexuality is okay, doesn't mean all feminists share this view and vice versa. It is not feminism's fault that there has been a perceived decline in morality, this should be blamed on the religious bodies. This context is as a result of clash between ideology and evolution of societal normatives. It is not the fault of the ideology. We must understand, that before anybody is gay, or a liar, or a fraud, or a bastard, or a Christian, or a Muslim, or a feminist, or a 'non feminist', or a man, or a woman, we're all first human. Humanity and opinion, must first before all, be respected-and I daresay no matter how adverse. The Nigerian law has stated homosexuality as a crime punishable with 14 years. The law demands immediate report of such crimes.
In your article, you selectively turned a blind eye to certain issues and blew others out of proportion. Herewith, I'll bring true life accounts of ignored conditions. Marriage should be a classless union of two souls who have agreed to come together and be. Violence needn't be physical, my dear. I don't see selfishness in the demand for equality amongst the sexes. Equality is a rather stoic and sometimes narrow representation of feminism's demand as exemplified throughout this piece. Equality not in biological composition or physical capabilities, but in opportunities given in the same situation. According to the Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi; it is no longer possible to escape the fact that the underprivileged status of women, their relative backwardness, lead to an essential backwardness in society as a whole.
Have you ever heard of an underaged boy forced into marriage with an overaged woman?
Forced marriage is still widely practiced in many rural communities in Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large. In a study carried out in Lagos in 2001, by Project Alert On Violence against women: 64.4 percent of the interviewed women in workplace said they'd been beaten by a partner, boyfriend or husband. 56.2 percent of 48 interviewed marketwomen had experienced the same type of violence. Countless others have been sent to graves in vicious acid attacks and horrific scenarios. Although men can be affected by domestic violence, women suffer disproportionately. (Julianna Okoh, 2012).
NON-FICTION [FORCED MARRIAGE]
Hauwa Abubakar died at age twelve in 2001. Her father had married her to an old man to whom he owed some money. She kept running away but because of the debt, her parents were obliged to return her to the husband. Finally to prevent her from absconding again, the husband chopped off her legs with an axe. She died from starvation, shock, and loss of blood. No legal actions were taken. It was regarded as a family affair.
In 2000, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, a thirteen year old girl, became a victim of blatant gender discrimination in Zamfara state. She was found pregnant and brought to a Sharia court. She was declared guilty of premarital sex and was sentenced to be flogged publicly, 110 strokes of the cane. Nothing was done to the three men whom she said raped her on three different occasions. Apparently Magazu, the girl's father was owing the men some money, so he arranged for them to have sex with the girl to liquidate the debt. Bariya was flogged after having her baby.
Would a boy child have found himself in this situation to start with? If yes, how many compared to the girl child?
Of the thousands and thousands of rape videos released everyday. Of rape stories, how many do we see or have heard of that men are the victims in them? Let us count and let a fair answer be given if rape is truly injustice against men.
In India, women are raped in broad daylight, sometimes on disguised public buses, and culprits remain unfound. Some are raped to death. In Congo, during the war, statistics show that 40 women were raped hourly. Here in Nigeria, and Africa at large, the most absurd questions are forwarded after a rape crime has been reported.
'Did you insult him?' 'Is he your boyfriend?' 'What were you wearing?' Why should the one who dressed in a certain manner be blamed, and not the one who couldn't control his urge?! And the last, and not the most stupefying, 'Was it in his house?'
When men are raped, it is considered an achievement, and not a loss of identity to most victims (or are they?).
What about the Chibok girls? Do we think they willingly mated with terrorists? What about the women and girls that are being raped as you read this who will not report the crime for fear of absurd claims and perversion of Justice under the guise of beguiled morality?
I could write on and on, but I reckon this is long enough, perhaps so long a response. It is now, more than ever, that the world needs feminism. It is through the respect and acknowledgement of womanity that true respect and acknowledgement of humanity will emanate. I impel you, dear LOIS OLUTAYO UGBE, that if you are to write, or state your views on feminism in subsequent times, to read far more extensively than a gaudy wikipedia page set up anonymously. I believe that if you truly understand what feminism entails, you'd vociferously be one of us. One of them. Herein explicitly laid, LOIS, is 'What They Did Tell Us'.
Article Written By: Olanrewaju Olamide Morenikeji.
Location: University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
TOWARDS FEMINIST THEATRE IN NIGERIA An Inaugural Lecture By PROFESSOR JULIANA OMONUKPON OMOIFO OKOH
FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION