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Feminism: The good and the ugly

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By Chukwuemerie Anyene

The swinging shift in human potentials has moved women from the second or subjugated social class to a more equal and respected existence. It has far more reaching impact on human society, and the shift is, by no means complete. This progress in the latter half of the 20th century was mind-bugling, compared with women’s progress up to that point. 

The only area that women have not tampered with, in the business of life, particularly in Igbo land, remains the breaking of the kola nut. Women, according to Igbo culture, are not allowed to break the kola nut because of certain social and ritualistic reasons. As a result, feminist writers started painting the menfolk with the brush of irresponsibility, humiliation, degradation and subjugation of women. They wanted people to believe this was deliberately orchestrated by men without much thought for the dignity and human rights of women. Feminist movements and ideologies aim at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights of women.

It (feminism) seemed such a good idea, but not everything has been fine since that advocacy. In the ideal sense, the global idea of feminism is the belief that men and women deserve equality in all opportunities, respect and social rights. In general, feminists are people who seek out gender-based social inequality with the aim of halting it.

Feminists point out that, in most cultures throughout the history, men have received more opportunities than women. The question begging for answer is: what are the advantages and disadvantages of feminism?

Feminists agitate for equality with men. Feminists want women to participate in elections. Feminists encourage women to speak in public. Feminists demand the rights of women. However, some women, particularly the ones with problems in their families, have exaggerated the situation. 

Some women think that a man and a woman should be equal in everything. And everything includes their physique. To also have the same body, some women prefer to live with lesbians and forget men.

Again, many women want to have children, but some of them think that a sexual relation is violent action. To avoid this violence, they choose to inseminate. According to the feminists, everything should be equal in sex. As such, a stage actor should have two protagonists: a man and a woman. What about order in writing? Can we write: A man and a woman? or a woman and a man? 

In some countries, such as Mexico, it could be dangerous the way a man looks at a woman because she could easily construe it as harassment.

There is a big difference between stereotype and reality when it comes to feminism?  One of the reasons for this discrepancy might be the different, specific types of feminism. 

Liberal feminism is a form of feminism which argues that equality for women can be achieved through legal means and social reforms. Radical feminism is a movement which believes that sexism is so deeply rooted in society that the only cure is to eliminate the concept of gender completely. 

Radical feminists suggest changes such as finding technology that will allow babies to be grown outside a woman’s body, to promote more equality between men and women. This, they argue, will allow women to avoid missing work for maternity leave. They blame women maternity leave for the disparity in the promotion of women and men and think it should be done away with. In fact, radical feminists, see the entire traditional family system as sexist. For instance, men are expected to work outside home while women are expected to care for children and clean the house. 

Social feminists, however, reject the main claim of radical feminism that patriarchy is the primary source of oppression of women. They assert that women are unable to be free due to their financial dependence on their male counterparts in society. They believe that women are subject to male rulers in capitalism due to the uneven balance in wealth. They argue that liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women’s oppression. 

Cultural feminism develops from radical feminism, although it holds many opposing views. It is a feminist theory of difference that praises the positive aspects of women. As radical feminism fades away as a movement, cultural feminism gets rolling. 

Cultural feminists believe in encouraging feminine behaviour rather than masculine behaviour. For example, the belief that women are kinder and gentler than men, prompts cultural feminists to call for the infusion of women’s culture into a male-dominated world, which would presumably result in less violence and fewer wars.

Eco-feminism is a social and political movement which unites environmentalism and feminism. Eco-feminists believe that these connections are illustrated through traditionally female values such as reciprocity, nurturing and cooperation, which are present both among women and in nature. Other forms of feminism are black feminism and separatist feminism.

Most men do support feminists the way the feminist cause is blown out of proportion and would rather root for philogyny or fondness toward women. In all, men allow their chauvinism to graduate to misogyny or hatred of women. 

Women, on their part and in all feminist sense, cannot be men. Feminists should, therefore, not allow their advocacy to degenerate to hatred of men or misandry. They should develop fondness, love or admiration towards men which is what philandry is all about. Men and women ought to be philanthropist in the service of humanity and male chauvinists and feminists should not allow dislike of humankind in their quest for fairness and equal rights.

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