People like to pigeonhole you. It’s easier.
There was no singular moment when I woke up and wanted to be a feminist. All I know is that I grew up with the conviction that there was nothing about me that suggested inferiority to my brother, father, uncles or other male relatives. Maybe I can tie it all to my father who always told me stories about Indira Ghandi, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Amina of Zazzau and Candace of Ethiopia. Whatever it was, somehow in my early twenties I was happily bearing the label ‘feminist’. It did not bother me that there were people who constantly questioned my ideals and tried to pigeonhole me into their own narrow perception of what feminism is all about. For these people, I was walking down a path created by vicious bra burning women who were on a rampage to teach strange doctrines to women, to turn us all to bi-sexuals, or lesbians, or worse make us turn against traditions that had served society for centuries. The tangible gender inequalities around me made it hard to care. I was more passionate about defending women’s right than defending my decision to identify with the feminist movement. However, these days, I have begun paying attention and have thought it impertinent to address certain misconceptions or myths about feminism.
Feminists Are All The Same
What most people fail to realize is this, just as expected of every ideological movement, there are different schools of thought in feminism. We have radicals and we have liberals. Just as we are beings subject to diverse experiences, there was no single, oversimplified way of classifying the feminist.
Feminists Hate Men
Erm…no. Feminists do not hate men. I have found that notion annoying and somewhat bewildering. Just because we champion women’s rights does not mean we hate men. There will be exceptions of course. There will be those who exhibit sexist tendencies but it will be wrong to assume that the actions of a few sexists is enough to classify feminist as bitter or men haters.
Feminists Don’t Believe In Marriage
Wrong. We do. For some of us, it is something we aspire towards like every other woman. The need for love transcends sex, race, religion or ideology. So why should we be different?
Feminists Hate Sex
This is another incredible belief that baffles me. Feminists may focus on sexual issues like rape and try to find ways to protect women from sexual exploitation, but this is not the only thing feminists are interested in. The issue of women enjoying gratifying sexual experiences is another thing feminists focus on. In their private lives, feminists respond to sex just like every woman.
Feminism Is No Longer Necessary
Says who? As long as inequalities continue to abound in societies around the world, as long as young girls continue to be married off in childhood, as long as women cannot command equal pay with male colleagues at work, as long as there are honour killings, as long as a woman who is raped in some parts of the world can still be killed for adultery, then our work is not completed.
So there, I hope I have convinced you to let those myths go.