Bongiwe Nkomazana on Gender
The more I did some research on feminism I realised that our different feelings towards it are probably because there are parts of it that we agree with and some parts of it that we do not, there are parts of it that are acceptable in our cultural contexts and parts that are way off the mark etc .
AFTER last Saturday’s issue on feminism, serendipitously I came across a number of articles and videos of different views on the topic. It was as if the universe was forcing me to learn and listen more to what other people thought.
Two viewpoints that stayed with me is one comment that was left under last week’s article and one video on Instagram. The user who left the comment expressed how they would pass on the feminism title because it had become a tainted ideology to them. They continued to express how the people that have taken over the narrative have done it with the loudest voice and how they were in his words, “a toxic, violently divisive supremacist bunch that had irrevocably alienated them”.
The user from the Instagram video who was a beautiful black young lady explained lengthly that she could not be feminist because it meant disregarding the problems of our “black” fathers and brothers. The thoughts that brewed in my head after listening to these two opinions in particular was how the true or core meaning and objective of feminism had either been misunderstood or misused so much that it is now perceived as a form of an attack versus an agent of inclusion.
Now, I did give the context of the feminism I was writing on and that I believe would bring greater good to mankind. However, I do not want to sit here and act like I am oblivious to the actions that have brought feminism to be viewed in a bad light.
The more I did some research on feminism I realised that our different feelings towards it are probably because there are parts of it that we agree with and some parts of it that we do not, there are parts of it that are acceptable in our cultural contexts and parts that are way off the mark etc.
For example, calling for equal rights in a town like Bulawayo in Zimbabwe would require you to select an appropriate medium of doing so. Because the people there have been socialised in a certain way, coming forth with Amber Rose’s style of protest where ladies wear revealing clothes and carry placards with words that are considered as vulgar while shouting all sorts of profanities would not bring you any joy in Bulawayo.
As much as Amber Rose is calling for equality in terms of women being allowed to express themselves and make their decisions and mistakes as individuals without the judgment and hate speech, most Zimbabweans will look at her approach and think that if this is what feminism looks like they would rather go the other way or shut it down completely.
These parts that we agree or disagree with make up the different types of feminism. Yes, believe it or not there are up to eight different types of feminisms which goes to show that just like its eponym; it is a multi-dimensional, very complicated something.
There is black feminism whose sentiments echo that the liberation and freedom from oppression of black women would ensure equality for everyone. Then there is liberal feminism (which advocates for equality between the sexes through social and political reforms and legal means), ecofeminism (which is the combination of ecology and feminism that focuses on the symbolic relationship between the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment), socialist and Marxist feminism, radical feminism, cultural feminism, I-feminism and so on.
I learn something new every day and unfortunately all this new knowledge can be very confusing. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find the feminism that embodies the type of feminist I am and the way I understand feminism in my mind. It is called “new feminism”. This is a philosophy that emphasises on the belief in an integral complementarity of men and women, rather than the superiority of men over women or women over men. Simple and straight-forward.
New feminism as described by an anonymous writer supports the idea that men and women have different strengths, perspectives, and roles, while advocating for the equal worth and dignity of both sexes.
One of its basic concepts is that the most important differences are those that are biological rather than cultural. It holds that women should be valued in their role as child bearers, both culturally and economically, while not being viewed as say just a home maker in the broader sense of the meaning. Its main aim is to promote the idea that women are individuals with equal worth as men and that in social, economic and legal senses they should be equal, while accepting the natural differences between them.
With regards to the girl in the video, I admired how she was very considerate of the issues that affect even our male counterparts although I could not shake off the feeling of her views were coming from a place of needing some acceptance or compliment from those male counterparts.
Let me explain. Because women are so marginalised the need to be included is real and huge. To then be seen as an opponent by the dominant group probably means that you will not be popular amongst them and then be segregated and oppressed further. So the strategy is to not be perceived to be championing or prioritising women rights and/or equality but to choose a more generic issue which in her case was race which is a completely different issue.
Feminism is not meant to disregard men’s issues or any other issues at all. It just brings forward women’s issues for everybody to work on as a collective.
There is no equality in a society where men feel that they are superior to females in any way. It just does not exist. Similarly, feminism is not present when women believe they are superior to men in any way. It just does not. Feminism advocates for complete equality between the two sexes and I believe whole-heartedly that it is a very worthwhile endeavour that should be carried forward and onward.