Feminism Disrupts a ‘Peaceful’ Society
“Feminism is disrupting peaceful living, especially in Africa where everything is now cool.” Certain persons who are comfortably living in our patriarchal society have expressed that feminists are only being busybodies because this is the 21st century and everything is fine. Obviously. I mean, women in ‘civilised’ places now go to school, women now hold property of their own, women work outside the home, there’s ‘equality’ everywhere, this and that. This people say that feminists/women just make these loud contrary assertions all over social media because of our entitlement and need to be heard. In fact, someone said these exact words to me, ‘Where were women in Africa during the liberation movements, the fights against colonialism and struggles for independence? The wars? Where are successful women written in history? Why do women agitate for equality now that everything is cool?’
It is quite painful and sad that a lot of people (men) share this view. But I don’t want to get merely emotional hence, this piece.
The broadly known and widely taught aspects of world histories have been written, re-written and passed along by men and/or under patriarchal altitudes. If we dug a little deeper, we’d find a lot of hidden truths, particularly about the powers and activities of women. Recent studies are showing that earlier translators of ancient texts interpreted these texts along patriarchal lines. Thus, we find that women have been purposefully lost in and erased from history. Because they are women.
In Africa, women were a huge and significant part of liberation movements. They were on the forefront of battlefields such as in Guinea, Kenya and Mozambique; women influenced intellectual strategies and some tended the towns during the wars. During colonialism, protests against taxation and colonial policies in Nigeria (for instance) of the British were by women, I haven’t yet found any records of a men’s protest of any kind. A few examples are the Nwaobiala Movement, the Abeokuta Women’s Union Protest and then the Aba Women’s War where about 50 women lost their lives to their great cause.
When nationalist thoughts arose across Africa, women were as well at the forefront. Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Ekpo Young of Nigeria, Lilian Ngoyi of South Africa and the Mau-Mau of Kenya readily come to mind. Market women, women whom we would call commoners also wielded a lot of influence like in Ghana and Nigeria. During the World Wars, yes, some women were combatants like Milunka Savić or aviators like Marina Raskova. They took up medical, administrative and humanitarian roles; they were indispensable. So now we know where women were during these.
I’ve been told that the ‘scarcity’ of women painters in the medieval and renaissance eras show the absence of women from notable fields as they have lesser intellectual capacities and talents. I know this is ridiculous but I also have met people who think like this that’s why I’m addressing it. Now, women have being so socially and culturally disadvantaged even to being prevented from undertaking several adventures. Due to this, women worked under male names or anonymously, especially as artists. Several women adopted male pseudonyms for their works. Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) wrote under A.M. Barnard, Mary Ann Evans wrote under George Eliot, Nora Roberts wrote under J.D. Robb, Joanne Rowling’s publishers thought a female author might put her intended audience for the Harry Potter books off so they created the male-looking name “J.K. Rowling.”
The stories are the same even now. In 2017, the women who founded ‘Witcshy’, some form of art collections, had been suffering disrespect from clients for no apparent reason. They created a male colleague ‘Keith’, to correspond with people via email and they immediately noticed a radical shift in their clients’ attitudes. People respected an imaginary man was more than the women they actually faced in person. It’s the same in almost all organisations where women in authority have to do a lot more to assert their authority and then people say female bosses do ‘too much.’ It’s reactionary.
Women in traditionally male fields such as science, technology, engineering and construction share stories of disrespect from male counterparts and having to work a lot harder to prove themselves in such circles. The lists go on and on to span various endeavours. But history has proved that women participated actively in several (intellectual) fields. Marie Curie, a female, is the only person with two Nobel Prizes. If you haven’t seen Taraji P. Hensen and Janelle Monae in Hidden Figures, please do.
History has also proven that men and women will fight together but men will take all the glory: the liberation movements in Africa and the civil rights movement are perfect examples of these. After women fought alongside men in the liberation wars of Algeria against French colonisation, in Mozambique against Portuguese colonialism, in the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s struggles against Zionist movements and in so many other wars and movements. Yet, women were constantly excluded from reaping the spoils of war.
And really, perhaps more importantly, everything is not rosy. How can it be? This is 2018 where some Nigerian youths are still saying ‘all promised children are males, according to holy texts… sons are important to continue the family name’. This is 2018 where some of my professors at school pat my back and say I only have these ideas for I am yet a child and unmarried. This is 2018 where a class of final year law students discuss the causes of rape and most say rape is caused by women dressing indecently. This is 2018 where people call ideas of gender equality a ‘bastardisation of our culture’. And this is 2018 where a man cut of his wife’s fingersoff by her husband in the UAE to stop her from continuing her education. He’s in prison and she started learning to write with her left hand. I can’t name all the injustices here. Yet my guy says ‘now that everything is okay’. Biko, in which world is everything okay?
It is only with a sense of entitlement, privilege and an ignorance of the realities of the negative influences of the patriarchal world order that anyone can say everything is okay. Dear Anne Frank said: ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’ We don’t need complete chaos or cataclysmic disorder before we realise the many injustices in our world and fight them. We need voices united in the quest for equality in our world. The time was yesterday and it is now.