F for Feminism: Episode 4 Pt. 1 (P-T)

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Patriarchy: In this article by Harvard scholar Garikai Chengu, he talks about a time in Africa before the patriarchy.

“The world’s first civilisations arose from the spiritual, economic and social efforts of African women and African women, in turn, went on to lead those matriarchal societies…The rituals and culture of African matriarchy did not celebrate violence; rather, they promoted fecundity, exchange and redistribution. Matriarchy in ancient Africa was not a mirror image of patriarchy today; because, it was not based on appropriation and violence.”

By Lauren Webber for the Johannesburg Art Fair

Webber’s art surrounds “feminism, anti-imperialism, power structures within Western society, and American image culture.”

I found this information absolutely mind-blowing because many-a-misogynist will try to convince you [See “Gaslighting” in Episode 2] that having a matriarchy, or even just women in powerful positions is simply impossible. Women are too emotional! (while men are just passionate).

These matriarchal societies existed in Ghana, Egypt, and yes, even in Nigeria.

There are a couple of different theories as to how exactly the patriarchy began. According to Frederick Engels it began so offspring could inherit property from men. Cheikh Anta Diop refutes this, saying the patriarchy was introduced to Africa (which operated a matriarchy) by the West first by Islam, then cemented through christianity.

The matriarchy was “not an absolute and cynical triumph over men, but a harmonious dualism, an association accepted by both sexes…A matriarchal regime, far from being imposed on the man by circumstances independent of his will, is accepted and defended by him”

Patriarchy also evolved because men were useful for providing labor and the more important crops. It is often justified using biological determinism. As outlined in this phD research article, biological determinists used only genes (sex) in their assertion that women tend to conserve energy, making them passive, uninterested in politics, etc. but failed to recognize the role society plays in making women believe they are or should be a certain way (masculinity vs femininity i.e gender).

In Oyeronke Oyerunmi’s book The Invention of Women, she illustrates that the current view of women as subordinate in Yoruba culture was imported from the West. Superiority was based on age, not gender.

Even in situations where roles were divided according to gender, women’s position were and should continue to be seen as complementary to men.

Do you see a familiar pattern here? No, things have not always been this way. The concept of men being at the top and the consequent subjugation of women (the patriarchy) is completely foreign to Africa.

Pick-mes (n): We see these ladies patrolling the streets of Twitter every day. All you need to do is look out for any feminist commenting on a gender-based issue and like a pimple the day before prom, they rear their heads, screaming from the top of their lungs how we need to exalt men for cleaning their arseholes and patting their babies on the back. Pick mes are willing to do just about anything to secure the approval they so desire and they will go to great lengths to distinguish themselves as icons of domesticity. To witness a pick me in action, simply state phrases such as “believe victims” or “men are scum” [See “Men are scum” in Episode 3] and watch as they scramble to the defense of their beloved kings, like ants to a pile of sugar.

As much as we and many feminists are not fond of these ladies, it is worth noting the role the patriarchy and socialization plays in their mentality. We have a society that drills “men are the head” and “please men” in girls’ heads as they grow up. For this reason, I hate to see “male allies” bash pick mes. Donate money to a female empowerment cause instead.

Privilege: Privilege is essentially being blessed with advantages you did nothing to earn.

We all enjoy privileges in certain capacities: A white man could be privileged through his race and gender but suffer discrimination because of his sexuality. A black Muslim woman could be discriminated for her religion and gender but enjoy the privilege of wealth.

A lot of men deny their privilege because they think privilege is synonymous to automatic success. They feel that certain things women talk about, such as the wage gap [see “Wage Gap” in “W”] are nothing but overblown facts because they are not successful or safe.

Think of privilege as a ladder.

Does a ladder make climbing easier? Yes.

Does it FULLY prevent you from falling? No.

Can you still fall because you are stupid? Of course.

Does it mean the ladder did not give you more privilege than one who climbed with her bare hands and was successful? No.

So, Tunde, if you see yourself earning less than a woman who is still complaining that she earns less than she deserves, it doesn’t mean she is overreacting or greedy.

It might mean that your incompetence supersedes your privilege.

Proverbs 31 woman:“She gets up while it is still dark…she considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard…she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks…”

This Biblical description of a “good woman” was once used in an appreciative tone, as a poem for men to use and praise the awesome women in their lives. Isn’t that so funny? It was written for men, but it has now been turned into a rule book for Christian women.

In reality, a “Proverbs 31” woman is not such because she washes clothes from sunrise to sunset, but because of her character.

It’s quite ironic that men are taking advice about finding the “perfect wife’’ from Solomon who had a thousand wives. If his advice was really foolproof, wouldn’t he have gotten it right the first time?

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Rape: Rape is any sexual act that takes place in the absence of consent. [See “Consent” in Episode 2].

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Sexism: Prejudice against someone simply because of the sex they are. To understand more why this might take place, see “Patriarchy” in “P” or “Toxic Masculinity” in “T”.

Shiloh: If you are a member of the Nigerian twitter community, you have likely heard male misogynists say something along the lines of “Is it my shiloh?!” when women talk about how they refuse to settle for men who do not tick all their boxes. Shiloh is a religious camp organized by Living Faith Church located in Nigeria, where all prayers are answered, from women looking for husbands to people trying to kill their enemies by fire. Whatever your plight, shout loud enough, compete with the shekere in your dancing and the righteous men of God will fix your problems.

Men ask “Is it my shiloh?” as a way of saying, if you like, keep having ridiculously high standards like wanting a man who knows how to wash a plate, and you will remain lonely, winding up in Shiloh, year after year, praying for a husband. Can you imagine the audacity? Wanting a man who can afford to buy you lunch? Who the hell do you think you are?

Slay queen: Once used as a term to uplift women who have achieved amazing goals in any sphere of life, this word has been abused to use and ridicule women who attempt to show confidence in their sexuality. It is also used to refer to women who embody the perfect Instagram lifestyle: wealthy and full of enjoyment.

It is often used to mock a sexually confident woman going through a difficulty such as a public scandal. Nigerian “bloggers” will be bursting at the seams as they trot out headline after headline: “Popular Nigerian slay queen is slapped in Shoprite.”

My theory is that Nigerians who attack slay queens are so overcome by the weight of their own troubles that seeing a person whose life they envy (wealth, fame etc.) going through difficulties placates them. She is normal like me after all.

One factor at play in the entire slay-queen situation is the commitment to the Madonna-whore complex. People have difficulty believing women can be sexy and intellectual/responsible at the same time.

Women are multi-faceted beings who have the ability to be many things.

Slut: This is a degrading word used to describe a woman who is “promiscuous” or to be honest, all women.

You’ve had sex before ? You’re a slut too, isn’t it cool?

Oh wait, you’ve never had sex before, but you like to have conversations about it? A slut title for you!

Did you say you don’t talk about sex? But I’m sure you’ve at least worn a skirt above your knee. S for Slut!

It’s okay, don’t feel left out. I think I saw you turn down a boy in your government class, because you think you’re all that. You’re one of us too!

T

Toxic Femininity: This terminology is one that is very quick to come out of the mouths of Nigerian males. It is second only to the beloved “misandry”.

I am hesitant to say whether it exists or not because it is hard to distinguish between just being a feminine person (which is okay!) in a world where femininity is often equated to weakness and believing you must perform femininity.

However I wouldn’t even call believing you must perform femininity toxic because…how is it toxic? Does an extreme sense of femininity cause one to kill others? How can toxic femininity be the female equivalent of toxic masculinity when it in no way has the same impact?

But what is it called when you for instance put other girls down for not getting their nails and hair done every other day? When you, according to Psychology Today, “[define] womanhood so shallowly that a woman feels de-gendered by basic human acts or neutral preferences”?

Rapper, Chika, said in a highlighted Instagram video:

“Telling butch women slash studs or any kind of hyper-masculine woman or fem-identifying person that they “look like a man” or they are trying to be a boy or telling women that their femininity is not a thing or it isn’t important or it’s minuscule due to them not performing femininity in the way that you want them to, I don’t think that’s rooted in misogyny…I think that women can be toxic…”

A lot of what is referred to as toxic femininity are side-effects of patriarchy and toxic masculinity. But perhaps we should not absolve women completely of their capacity for toxicity.

Brought to you by Tritima Achigbu and Sope Lartey.

*Part 2 picks up from “Toxic Masculinity”

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66% Nigerian, 33% Ghanaian, 1% vacuum. There are a million women in me that question the world.

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Sope Lartey

Sope Lartey

66% Nigerian, 33% Ghanaian, 1% vacuum. There are a million women in me that question the world.

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