The existence of Donald Trump in America’s Oval Office has no ‘alternative fact’ to it, the statistic that will recognise Kellayanne Conway as the first woman to successfully run an American presidential campaign also has no ‘alternative fact’ to it. However the clamouring and demands by some people (read men) for feminists and women in general to throw a grand party for Conway and celebrate her ‘achievement’ cannot go unchallenged.
To put it in clear terms, Conway supported the candidacy of a man who in deed and speech has shown disdain for women. Just a few reminders, attacking and denigrating women because of their looks, calling women beautiful pieces of ass and comparing them to buildings. We could write a whole article about this, the point is the choice not to celebrate Conway’s success or any other woman who is successful in the process of taking women’s progress a step back should be acceptable and normal.
To box feminism as a celebration of everything achieved by women without critically looking at what we are celebrating or trying to advance in the lives of women would be equal to folly on the part of everyone in the universe.
The thing about feminism is that it is not a ‘unitary concept’- in the words of Jane Freedman. If one reads and follows everything written and said by people who identify as feminists and those who support the feminist movements, it becomes distinct that there is common ground and there are stark differences at the same time. This should therefore in any way not dismiss the cause within the movement. This article will give opinion on two issues that are prominent in discussions on feminism and have been re-ignited because of the Trump election.
“Feminism seeks to destroy families”
The underlying principle of feminism which is probably universal to the different strands is probably the political, social and economic equality of sexes. Unlike some people, I do not believe feminism can ruin a good marriage, but I think it can make a woman and man in a bad marriage to either quit or improve it. My sincere belief is that a good marriage is grounded in trust, love and respect such that if feminist principles are counter these attributes-they cannot and should not make the marriage go sour. A lot has been written vis-à-vis increase in divorces and , in most cases such narratives ignore underlying causes that include oppressive cultural practices, or the plain realisation that the two involved cannot remain in that union and maintain their sanity, better yet keep their lives.
To paint feminism as a movement for people with ‘daddy issues’ and ‘anger issues’ is short of an insult to people working for the recognition of women in other spheres. Certainly some people identify as feminists only because they have experienced the growth of male-supremacy at the expense of women’s rights as equal human beings. Weather these experiences were first hand or witnessed through mothers, sisters or friends, the fact still stands that women have for long been at the bottom of the radar and efforts to change this narrative are underway. Should these struggles and efforts to change the world be reduced to anger and ‘daddy issues’?
Here is the thing, feminism is for me just another label we can use to identify ourselves if we desire. The crux is not in the word but in the actions. How parents raise their children should be important, children should be able to respect each other and not insult each other because of sex-they should be treated equally and given the same amount of responsibilities and privileges which they can responsibly handle. Parents should in turn treat each other with love and respect, where true love from both partners is the underlying factor in a marriage we do not expect to hear clamours of feminist ‘destructions’. This is because such a marriage allows sensitivity to each other’s needs to be key, it allows the existence of good communication.
This means a woman in a happy and fulfilling marriage does not need to bring out theories/principles of to her partner to make an argument about grievances, she uses the language they both know best-love. So if there are marriages allegedly destroyed by feminism, they need to be examined if they were indeed good for the people involved. I put emphasis on ‘the two’ because we tend to believe that one should sacrifice their happiness for their partner in order to show love, which is not the truth.
Feminism- Not African, Not Biblical?
I believe ancient African culture has always to some extent had respect for women. The life of a new person was credited to a woman although the father’s role was recognised through naming. The woman’s role in the daily running of the home and the economic growth of the home was equally important. The economic, physical and sexual abuse of women in the name of African culture is therefore to me un-African. I will focus more on the biblical which I enjoy and is used often to relegate women because of what I believe is the lack of understanding.
Biblically, Paul writes in Galatians that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ and in Corinthians goes on to say ‘woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman…’ because of the birthing process. The biblical submission in Ephesians is a real and important issue which I believe has unfortunately been measured by superficial things. Acts of service such as cooking, laundry, finances and sex within a marriage should not be equated to .
Submission is mentioned in relation to the emphasis of a husband’s love for his wife. It is not requested of him to ensure his wife submits to him. In understanding the bible I do not believe these verses should be used to relegate women of faith, it is a triangular approach of a man and woman who receive love from Christ and in turn mutually respect and love each other. For this reason, I believe it is men who are true worshippers who can have an understanding of what they were being instructed and it is those with a hunger for controlling behaviours and un–Christ like behaviours who mis-use this verse.
Lastly one cannot claim knowledge to all scriptures, it is an un-ending process of learning and understanding grounded in faith. We should acknowledge that in some of these scriptures especially where Paul gives instructions that seem to silence women he says, ‘I Paul-not the Lord,’ and ‘I say this,’- this should propel us to question what the cultural concerns were, the historical precedence, traditions and the various translations of the Greek and Hebrew texts. More-so, we should relate all this to all the other scriptures and Christ’s example of how he treated women.
Conclusively, we should resist the urge to begin a fight at the slightest mention of the word feminism. Let us seek understanding on what the idea behind the term is, a little patience and willingness to listen can give us that understanding. It is small things like that with the power to ‘convert’ and begin meaningful and inclusive conversations around equality of sexes.