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THEME: AFRICA
TITLE: EXTREMISM AND FEMINISM IN AFRICA.

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be, rather than recognizing who we are.”-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of sexes. Feminism is a movement that seeks to put an end to sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression and to achieve full gender equality in law and in practice. A feminist is a person who supports feminism.

The feminist movement arises from the fact that there is a slight or wide imbalance between the two sexes. With reference to historical facts, the former and most common definition of masculinity was strength. In the olden days, most herculean activities were carried out by men. Such as hunting, and even fighting during wars. Thus, the women were left with the domestic chores and responsibilities while the men were away from home. Today, we no longer need the strong arms of men to carry tubers of yams from the farm, nor does a man’s happiness with his wife determine when there will be hunted meat in the soup!

Extremism is the quality or state of being extreme. An extremist is someone who has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable. Over the years, we’ve had few African female feminists who have stood up for their personal or collective rights due to their gender. These were women termed as stubborn and were condemned by fellow women even, of not being a worthy wife material. In the past, we’ve welcomed traditions that embraced polygamy but not polyandry, we’ve accepted wife battery and domestic abuse against women as a form of submission in Africa, and we’ve accepted idleness in form of housewives, as the only definition of a good wife.

Thankfully, education has partially lifted the blindfold that has prevented us from seeing the truth about feminism and what it should be, rather than accepting the status quo. Due to enlightenment, women have started breaking barriers and limitations set by archaic beliefs which have brought nothing but hardship upon the female gender. Women are now setting standards in different fields.

After being subjected to different negative narratives about womanhood over the years, such as child marriage, scars as beautification, humiliation in the name of virginity tests, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse as a form of submission, little dreams and zero expectations in life except marriage and childbirth amongst others, sadly women have gone over the bar, in their quests for liberation in the form of gender equality in law and practice.

I was involved in an informal and impromptu debate on Facebook, over a post made by a fellow African lady, in the support of feminism. She was trying to defend and restate the whole purpose and meaning of feminism which has been rubbed in the mud by female Nigerian feminists who are also extremists. Over the last few decades, feminists have taken a new position, after being slightly exposed to the rays of change and promises of equality. With more women finding their voice, most women in Africa have become antagonists and oppressors to their male counterparts.

I supported her cause to further explain to men, who see feminism as intimidation, as women with bad attitude incapable of being good mothers and wives, as girlfriends physically abusing their boyfriends and pouring drinks over them in public, because they now have the upper hand in relationships and the law against abuse is in their favor. I tried defending the feminism cause with bold and accurate citations from successful and meaningful movements of feminists and not baseless domestic arguments on who should wash clothes or do the dishes but real and useful revolution such as the education of the girl child in Pakistan which was championed by Malala Yousafzai.

Prevention and abolishing female circumcision, gender determination and abortion of female babies, child marriage and many more causes needed to be championed. These are what feminism is all about, and not a revenge mission to victimize men, break marriages, leaving women bitter and unhappy. Feminism shouldn’t be blocked by extremism, it is indeed a worthy cause.
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