Feminism and the Nigerian Men...

“Are you a feminist?” This has become the latest trend amongst Nigerian men to ask women this question on their first date. You see the word feminist has been dented in the minds of some of these men that anyone who agrees to be a feminist has automatically become a hater of men. I want to understand some of these men, because as crazy as the world is today there are some misandry hiding under the umbrella of feminism, and of cour­se extremist who go beyond everything that feminism stands for, so it becomes dangerous admitting to being a feminist.

As easy as it is to Google the word and get the true meaning of feminist, Nigerian men have left me with the sole responsibility of explaining what I stand for and if that makes me a feminist, so be it.

The traditional Nigerian man would prefer women to sit behind at home, caring for the children, cooking, cleaning and if possible, have a menial business that doesn’t require all their attention. It amazes me because history has shown us the power and force women pull.

Once upon a time in 1929 a group of women protested against the imposed rule of government by the colonial masters in the colonial territory of Igboland which restricted women from participating in government. This is today taught in schools as the Aba women protest of 1929. If only I'd come from Aba, I could have beaten my chest that my grandmother was part of those women. Imagine that these women had said oh well, I am a woman.

My place belongs to the kitchen and the other room history wouldn’t have recorded the change that their protest made in their land. A small portion of these men are quick to also forget that there is Queen Amina of Zaria who led men to war. Then how can one accuse Feminism to be a western ideology being blindly bought by today’s Nigerian women.

My friend Amaka and I sat out one evening in one of our usual ways of hanging out. We were experiencing a power outage, there was a total blackout in the hostel, and we were bored. She called me and asked that we see. We went on discussing life after university, our fate after studying in a country like Nigeria where there is little to no knowledge of Social Work.

Somehow the topic of our discussion got diverted; “I and my boyfriend had a misunderstanding” She opened up. That would be the first time she would open up to me about her relationship. Naturally anyone would be curious to know what could have made the hard-stone Amaka vulnerable. Her boyfriend had said she was too feminist for his liking. I never knew someone could be too feminist for anyone’s liking. I asked her what would ever make him say such a thing.

“Hilary Clinton is contesting for the US presidency. We argued because he spoke about how unfit it was for a woman to rule the most powerful country in the world.” She said, Amaka would go ahead to defend the rights of women in politics; she would even go further to cite women in power. This debate would quickly drift to who should make a decision of resigning and relocating between a high earning partner and a low earning partner, where she had suggested that the highest earning partner remain employed even if it was the woman who earned higher.

I couldn’t see how a discussion in politics could divert to something so trivial but yet an important topic in a relationship. Amaka’s boyfriend all through the years they’ve been dating would not mind her views on certain things but immediately he perceives his manhood being put to test, he goes beast mode. This could be sometimes attributed to the nature at which some Nigerian women have misinterpreted what it means to be a feminist. This misguided campaign that women do not need men in their lives has made some men skeptical about feminism.

The issue with most Nigerian men is not the fact that the woman is a feminist but rather their ignorance to what feminism entails. It is important to say that some of these men are also proud feminist. This is why when the news of Russia invading Ukraine had hit the world, various Nigerian influencers called out women to join in the fight and not to go hiding.

Maybe the reason women and children are protected first during disasters and war is on the basis of procreation. How can you easily save an entire nation of people from being wiped out from the face of the earth? It is worthy to note that this targeted attack by them is born out of the ideology of feminism some of these radical Nigerian feminists have sold on the online space. They made feminism to be a war against men when it should be war against systems that do not favor the equal rights and opportunities of women.

The 21st century feminist woman rather seeks for equal rights and opportunities. So, whether a woman decides to run for presidency or go to the war front, she is asking to be given the necessary tools and support to effectively do so. And if she decides not to do so, then it is her decision. If women want to be included in politics, they should and they should do it to the fullest.

Patience, an acquaintance will one day confide in me that her husband does not take her advice or values her opinion on matters regarding the household. He has constantly hammered on being the head of the house. I jokingly chipped that she was the neck of the family. We all can agree on something, the importance of a woman’s opinion on issues that concerns the family.

It wasn’t what Patience had done or did but on what her Husband’s Aunt had done to her own husband. The poor woman had inherited the negative consequences of another woman’s bad behavior. So, anything that’s contradictory to what her husband says is viewed as insubordination. For years they had lived with some of the financial mistakes made by her husband that could have been avoided.

The average Nigerian man’s dislike for feminist is born from the fear of losing what is perceived to be his birthright as the head of the family. It has nothing to do with what feminism entails but more of the perceived damage it could do to their pride and ego. I see various people trying to teach young women to be feminist; they encourage young women to aspire for various political positions.

The irony is that these same persons will tell young women certain kinds of political forms they shouldn’t pick. You tell them you can pick a form but not for the seat of presidency because it is a man’s position. Is there any scientific proof that men are better leaders? Majority of the political positions in some of the tertiary schools in Nigeria have reserved seats for a female aspirant as well as their male counterparts.

This is why you would see five male students aspiring for the position of Student Union Government (SUG) president and then another five female students going for the position of SUG vice-president. It is like an unspoken rule everyone understands and obeys. It becomes strange once a woman desires the so-called reserved seat for male because women are regarded to be an emotional being. Too emotional to take radical decisions; perhaps the world today requires this emotional creature to change certain things.

In as much as it is difficult to re-educate adults, it would be so much better if little children both male and female are taught from a tender age what it means to be feminist and not the misinterpreted hate towards men that some of these women have. We could build the next generation to be better than we were. I would like to see a society where women in politics would be treated as equal and worthy running mates for positions that have been for so many years viewed as a man’s position. I want a day when I can say I’m a feminist without having to explain the term feminism.

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