Feminism is a concept that is bigger than the simplicity of the word itself. It existed centuries before us and continues to grow by the years. The truth however is that not many stand behind it, better yet many don’t understand it and it has been reduced to what has been passed down from the media, oral traditions and even for the more vigilant from reading on the history of it. Today I’ll answer some frequently asked questions on feminism and share what your feedback was on social media to the questions I asked.
What is feminism?
Aunty google says, ‘feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.’
It is coined from the French word ‘feminisme’ by Charles Fourier, a utopian socialist and was first used in English in association the movement of equal political and legal rights for women.
Feminism has over time taken many shapes and forms according to the day and age where its proponents lived. For the Isabell Baumfree later know as Sojourner Truth her 1851 speech ‘Ain’t I a woman’ was on anti-slavery and the beautiful speech speaks on how she could work as a slave just like her male counterparts she said as recorded (as she couldn’t read or write),
‘I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold.’
The evolution of feminism has moved from advocating for political rights such as the right to vote to equal pay today. Simone de Beauvior is one such feminist who recorded works in her treatise ‘The Second Sex’ in the year 1949 where she goes into a detailed analysis on the oppression of women.
Today we have quite a number of feminists both male and female who advocate for different rights for women. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book ‘We Should All Be Feminist’ talks on her own life and being labelled as a feminist before the even knew what it meant. She says;
‘It seems to me that the word feminist, and the idea of feminism itself, is also limited by stereotypes. … I decided to speak about feminism because it is something I feel strongly about. …I hoped to start a necessary conversation.’
Her TED talk was featured in Beyonce’s song Flawless.
Feminism in Kenyan has been seen in a wide light. The constitution now is believed to “favor” women. The fact that it is designed to favor women says that there has been a problem. Since this post goes up on Jamhuri day, we need to know why women started running homes back in the day and became the heads of the family. 55 years ago we got independence but before that a lot happened as I put it in the “Scramble and Partition for Africa’ post here
Our men went out to fight at our imperialist’s wars. Meaning the women confined to the kitchen had to go out and work for the children their husbands left behind. By the time we got independence and men came back home, women had started running homes and the men had been in a sense displaced from their role in society. I think in more ways than one, how we rehabilitated our men then greatly affected who they became in society. For some women the men became useless since they could work and earn the money the men used to earn before. For others they welcome their husbands back with open arms. Respected them and gave them an opportunity to be the heads of the family once again. That however didn’t stop them from going to work in the morning.
What types of feminism are there?
There are quite a number but I’ll limit them to existing jurisprudence where there are liberal feminism, radical feminism, Marxist (socialist) feminism, black feminism and cultural feminism.
Liberal feminism is about equality of men and women through legal and political reform. Changing the level in which men and women interact is the answer for them. Radical feminism is the more extreme version where society is seen as sexist and male based thereby resulting in the oppression of women. For them, the answer is uprooting the system and a complete social construction. Socialist feminism is about oppression of women as a result of the need for women to work against all social groups. It’s not just as a result of the individual interaction but as a result of the social construction and socialism therefore is only established with the liberalization of women. Black feminism is about black women experiencing class oppression and racism making what they experience more intense as compared to that of white women. Cultural feminism is on the ideology that there is a difference between men and women by considering psychological differences to be culturally constructed instead of being inborn or biological.
In light of this, different men and women have decided whether or not to subscribe to feminism (not that it’s a YouTube channel). In the polls I carried out on Instagram 66% said yes they are feminist and 34% said not. On Facebook 28% voted yes 72% voted no. The polls alone reflect the position of give or take 100 people across both genders.
Answers to the questions asked majorly was via Whatsapp, Instagram direct message and on my Facebook page and those personally messaged on messenger here’s what you thought:
What do you think feminism is/ what are you views on feminism?
“My View on feminism is the same way I view racism , sexism and also the female version of bigotry. Its ideologies are not based on Equality , they are based on the belief that the male gender should be regarded as inferior as compared to the female one …
“… feminism is not a stick we use to beat other people with
“Feminism is misused a lot
“…feminism is the belief of equality to all genders in opportunity, treatment…
“…feminism is more of a war to try and ensure the world views females as human beings… For the longest time persons of the female gender have been regarded as sex pots, child bearers and gold diggers when they’re actually capable of bringing much to the table .
“Feminists are ladies/men who don’t believe in their strength, they want to always fight so as to be relevant. They are the most vocal for no apparent reason.
“Positive feminism is promoting equal opportunities to both male and female… Extremist Feminism… with Negative energy…undermining the position of men in the society always distorts that school of thought.
“…feminism should advocate for equal in value and worth but also take note of the comparative advantage that each gender possess.
“Someone proud of the women’s impact in the society…
“Feminism is the support of equal rights for women
“…feminism is the advocacy for empowerment of women in diverse aspects. However, I think this has been exaggerated and viewed negatively by majority of people.
Are you a feminist?
“I am definitely not a feminist I tend to think that over time the term feminism has been used to degrade men and make women as the masculine gender. Do I think women need that? Nope. I think that there needs to be more focus on how women and men can be equal to certain extent.. nowadays feminism is more used to degrade men which is not right don’t take me wrong I advocate for equality to a certain extent there needs to be a bottom line on feminism
“I don’t consider myself a feminist -I believe there is inequality in all aspects gender (race , religion , language etc) and achieving equality according to me is a slow process and we are slowly working towards .
Do you think women have been over empowered and the boy child forgotten?
“Women empowerment is a beautiful agenda that should continue to be pushed, persons of the male gender are just going through a phase coz they’re not used to sharing the cake… they’ll adjust and we’ll be all be happy again.
“We need equality and what Kenya has now is affirmative action!!
Equality also means that our women will not need to ask to be ‘handed ‘ positions they should battle it out with men and let the best win !
“Personally I have no issue with feminism in the Kenyan context it can be used as a form of woman empowerment, however I got an issue with a few uncultured *** who hide behind feminism to insult men and further their ulterior agendas
“…recent news on tv of women being murdered( we all know their names) made me rethink about the status of women in society… to me so many women being murdered within a very short period of time indicates that violence against women is on the rise… and the idea that the girl child has been over empowered and the boy child forgotten to me is not true.. women are clearly still facing violence… brutal violence… we are not there yet… their right to life rather our right to life and dignity is no longer being respected and a lot needs to be done to empower the girl child including the 2/3 gender rule.
“Personally I believe in championing for equal rights for both men and women in society but the whole issue of feminism has been taken out of context in most situations. It has no longer become about equal rights and privileges in societies but about having a preference of the girl child over the boy child. The boy child has become insignificant in society in the last decade and currently all efforts in gender development as far as education and opportunities in the society favour the feminine gender. Recently we had the International Men’s Day and it’s sad to see that most of the mental illness and depression cases in our society are men. There seems to be no balance anymore even in work places and learning institutions. I have seen instances where lecturers in learning institutions outrightly declare to be feminists and instead of upholding the values of feminism which is advocating for equal rights for the girl child, the whole thing is elevated to a whole other context that makes the male student feel inferior and less deserving of learning opportunities. Truancy of the boy child is at it’s highest because of feminism. Now I have nothing against feminism, I actually admire feminists but I believe that the whole concept should not be misinterpreted and that the society should really re-evaluate the plight of the boy child in society. I’d be open to talking about it more in forums
“Girls have been overpowered.. coz they needed that extra push to bridge the gap.. but that’s starting to tip the scale. Esp when merit is no longer considered when it comes to opportunities and advancement.
Why are/aren’t you a feminist?
“I support feminism especially because of my sister….I don’t want a lot of the *** out there against women to wear here down. It depends on the agenda though, most make sense but some I don’t know.
I feel that feminism loses its meaning the moment people forget its about changing the social view of a woman as someone who can do anything and is entitled to an equal share of opportunities and protection in the society.
“As Maya Angelou said, I’ve been a woman all my life, it’s silly not to be on my own side
“I’m proud to be female to have the so called feminine characteristics . I agree with Grace Atkinson that human genital organs is the first dichotomy of human division – only that I don’t see the division negatively .
I’m fine with receiving some help here and there from the male version and I don’t consider that making me less of a woman or less independent I think it makes me human . However just like any aggressive human I want to work and achieve some personal goals and that’s where as a woman you have to work maybe three times harder to get the same opportunity as a man did .
But for how long ? I think if your work is good enough – society will appreciate and it no longer matters what gender you are
“yes I am a feminist because I believe in respect and protection of the rights of women
“I’m for the idea of positive and constructive feminism, but i can’t stomach feminists who only have something to say when it’s convenient for them
“Am a feminist coz I believe women should get equal rights and opportunities for the betterment of mankind
“I’m for the idea of positive and constructive feminism, but I can’t stomach feminists who only have something to say when it’s convenient for them.
Can men also be feminists?
“Yes… Men can also be feminist if feminism is viewed as a fight for women to belong as humans and not really to belittle men. Also on the real… it’s not okay to kill anyone because you regard their hustle as immoral. It’s heart breaking every time society tries to justify the murders of females by painting disgusting pictures of who they were when they were alive. Males are amazing creatures but so are females.
Is the nomination of women in parliament proper in your view?
“Creation of special seats and gender ratios isn’t going to work.. its just creating more burden to the taxpayers..esp when said seats don’t even have a job description.
It undermines democracy ..esp considering we have less female mps despite women voters being more than men. Question we should be asking is why are women not voting for fellow women!?
Do you believe the society is still patriarchal in nature?
“We need to accept that we live in a patriarchy society and that’s not going to change anytime soon.. but that doesn’t mean one gender is great than the other.
“yes we are living in a patriarchy society because women still have to fight for inclusion in parliament, women are still fighting to be included in government to be treated with respect. While we are making progress we still have a long way to go
Do you believe in the me too movement?
“I support the #metoo movement coz it’s about stopping sexual harassment of women
Outside the questions I asked, there were some general comments on feminism and personal experiences that influence your beliefs. Here’s what you had to say or ask and answer;
“My biggest question on feminism is do you want equality or just recognition… yes misogyny has been a long time trait. But feminism should advocate for equality…equal job opportunity, equal pay, equal selection.. But not equal recognition. What do I mean? Like a date.. Should you split the bill? Should you pay half the rent should be you also be a provider in the home? Mentally and emotionally we are wired different and as a man an emotional need is to provide. And fend. Some roles should not be changed or adjusted as I see some feminists advocating..
“Feminism is a complicated concept. Is it about equality or equity? Every gender has unique features that we acquire. Sometimes it’s disgusting that women expect special treatment because they continue to see themselves as a minority. You want to be a feminist but you still need to be opened for the door, you expect a man to provide , and be a man you expect special treatment because you are a lady. Feminism has become a concept of us expecting certain privileges or just women wanting to feel like we have the power.
… women rights and issues have become too much honestly!!!! The definition of feminism has been ruined. … people like us who have grown up with privilege born in the 90’s our feminism is be a boss lady , be open about sexual conversation. …. you expect protection from a man you want to be protected then to be provided then expect equal pay between genders… I believe in women and everything it’s a good thing when they prosper and stuff I am not against that. But feminism is too much.
“In the 18th century, feminism was about rights of women. The basic things like education and a right to a life outside the kitchen. This was very noble because every human being should be allowed to seek their own path in life. In the mid- 20th century, the story changed to gender equality. This suggests that ‘what a man can do…so can a woman’.
The very backbone of this argument is flawed. Basic biology gives glaring differences between the two sexes. A man can never get pregnant and carry an infant to term. So that fact disqualifies any chance of equity. In physical science something can only be equal to another if each possess the same characteristics (physical, chemical and biological). This is not true for men and women.
The biggest mistake made by the feminist movement, is to try and beat men at their own game. Women entered a male dominated professional world and tried to out man man. This will only lead to failure. Football fans will tell you that you don’t win a game by playing exactly like your opponent. You learn their weak points and make them your strengths. That is what the cause for women should be. Find a way to thrive without doing exactly what men do. That’s why women in business often complain that they work twice as hard to get the same recognition as a man.
As a woman… I don’t want to lift weights and walk around with a hammer and nails to fix broken things in the house. Not that it’s wrong, but what would the man do if I did all the cooking, cleaning and fixing. Men and women need to play their roles the best way they can and live harmoniously without being at logger heads. It’s the only way to maintain balance in society. Especially in homes where the office supremacy battles are dragged.
That said….in this time and age…objectification should stop. If a woman is dancing half naked on a music video, the man next to her should do the same. Who said that women don’t enjoy a well chiseled chest and crafted abs. Agree on feminism when its about providing equal opportunities but recognizing men and women have different capacities….and in the long run its still more about the individual than the entire gender….just because a certain woman makes a good leader doesn’t mean women are better leaders and vice versa….
“I was at Dean and Deluca today in soho, where I bumped into two random guys discussing feminists and dating one. One was against it, using the argument that women are naturally programmed to submit and follow the alpha, one who can provide and protect; therefore can raise children. He continued to give examples of the rich and wealthy and/or men who are physically built and attractive who have the smartest and hottest wives. The other was pro feminism and he said that woman are capable of doing the majority of jobs out there, and listed recent accomplishments of a female Marine Corp leader, and other accomplishments held by female CEO’s and C level execs that also had mom duties. He wants women to make the same if not more than men.
The conversation then deviated, for some reason by guy 1, that alphas are much more confident and would dominate the female; therefore getting the woman. Guy 2 said that women today are more independent and don’t need a man for physical and financial protection, but more of a individual partner, someone who can live their own life and share one with them. And his argument ended with women today want more emotional support over money and looks.
During this whole interaction, because I was nearby within earshot, guy 2 made eye contact with me and asked me what I thought. I replied, every woman is different but I support feminism because I want a woman to have equal opportunities to grow and succeed in life, and if I am fortunate to have a woman does better than me and still loves me for who I am and not what I have then I’ll be the luckiest guy in the world. There are women that fall into both categories, but I would prefer dating a feminist. Guy 1 responds, so you don’t feel like it makes you less of a man? You can’t let a woman make more than you! *Insert insults – use your imagination*
I simply responded, “I am not insecure because at the end of the day, you have to look past stereotypes and stop being shallow and figure out what you truly want in a spouse. If looks is all you are looking for, just go be rich and you’ll find that gorgeous gold diggers are plentiful. If you work on yourself, you’ll attract a beautiful soul that will love you unconditionally forever. I know what I want. What about you?” Guy 2 proceeds to high five me and laugh while his friend just sulks and says they should go.
Sad that this type of thing still happens in 2018.
Here’s a story that hit home on what feminism means.
I am a feminist because my friend went to a party with her “friends” and woke up the next day to blood stained sheets no longer a virgin, with no recollection of what happened. We were too scared to call it rape, so we said that she had had a bad night with the “wrong” guy.
I am a feminist because when I turned 15 and hit puberty suddenly none of the boys could look me in the face. My chest drew all the attention and since then men have felt entitled to stare at my cleavage because I must be advertising if that’s “big”. They can make several comments about my chest but “it’s just a joke and I shouldn’t take it that serious.” It didn’t matter that from the time I was 16 I constantly considered having breast reduction surgery.
I am a feminist because whenever I go out to a club and walk through a crowd I get groped countless times. All my female friends have, it’s normal. But why?
I am a feminist because when a woman in my country spoke about the blatant physical abuse she and many other women have been subjected to several times while using public transport; she was shamed and ridiculed, insulted and told she deserved it instead of being heard, comforted and supported.
I am a feminist because many women in my country – in the world, are physically abused by their husbands, partners, fathers but society says if he beats you it’s because he loves you. For the full story click here.
Finally, here’s a response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’
The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortable sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay for your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also if you want to, and raise a family with. You can walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.
Your world is full of freedom and possibility.
Now Imagine this:
The year is 2013. You are a 25 year-old Pakistani woman. A few months ago you married the man you love. A man you choose for yourself. You are also pregnant with his child. You see your life stretching out before, filled with hope and happiness. Suddenly you and your husband are dragged away from each other. You are both beaten with bricks and batons. You can’t fight back. You can’ escape. No one comes to help you. Through your fading vision, you look up, and look into the eyes og your assailants: into the eyes of your father. For the full story click here.