Two of the most popular words on social media these days are “feminism” and “feminists.”
While they’ve been used to mean different things by different sets of people, the ideals of feminism are the same globally: the political, social, economic and personal equality of the sexes.
If it’s for both sexes, why is it named feminism then?
If you’ve lived in this world for just a day, you’d have realized that it’s very much a man’s world. The situation is worse in developing countries like most of Africa, which have very patriarchal societies. Women, as such, stand the most to benefit from this movement.
The first feminists were women who fought for women’s rights, dating all the way back to 1890s, and the term has stuck through the years, used to describe all forms of women’s rights movements.
What do feminists want?
Simply, equality. The right for anybody to not be treated as lesser just because of their gender. Across the globe, feminists have campaigned for issues like the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property and to receive a quality education.
Many people point to the physical differences between men and women as to why both genders can never be “the same,” but feminism is pushing for the girl child to have an equal quality of education as the male child, not for the same external genitalia.
Does feminism affect men negatively?
No, it doesn’t. Feminism pushes for equality of the sexes, not the superiority of one sex over the over. For example, in the Nigerian law, Section 353 of the Criminal Code provides that “Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults any male person is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years. The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.”
Conversely, Section 360 provides that “Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.”
If the punishment for assaulting a woman is made the same as the punishment of assaulting a man, does it affect the man’s rights in any way? No, it doesn’t.
Should I be a feminist?
Personally, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. The benefits of gender equality affect both sexes. Toxic masculinity, a key feature of patriarchal societies, has done a lot of damage to men over the years, with many men unable to express their mental or emotional troubles because of the fear of being considered weaker.
Even if you believe you are free from the negative portions, you have a mother, you might have sisters, and you might have daughters. Do you want to live in a society where your daughter can be raped by a husband because Section 182 of the Nigeria Penal Code provides that “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape if she has attained puberty”?
Can I support feminism without wanting to be labeled a feminist?
As with every cause, there are bad eggs who will always taint it. Feminism has suffered from this, with misandrists using it as a cover to propagate men-hating ideologies. (I’ve seen a post on social media where a “feminist” wrote that mothers should not breastfeed their male children.)
Regardless, they do not represent what feminism is. If you believe in the cause and think that its ideals are worthy of fighting for, then you should proudly be a feminist.