LETTER TO MY RIGHT HAND MAN: I am now a feminist

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Dear Oliver,

Greetings from the cosy, loving, charming, refreshing, scholarly (and I can go on and on) environment of Legon. As I write, I am on the Legon hill itself. The hill on which the almighty Commonwealth Hall stands. I hope you have no doubt that the Vandal City is the single most comfortable hall in the whole of Africa,non? “No Wahala”, one of these days, I would adduce incontrovertible evidence that will convince all Supreme Court judges in the world beyond reasonable doubt that it really is! Do I sound legal enough?

Oliver, I declare forthwith that I am a feminist. Why? Simple! My eyes have been opened to the fact that the beneficiary of feminism, contrary to popular opinion, is humanity in general, not women.

I took the decision after listening to Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TedEx Talk entitled: “we should all be feminists”. I realized that if we accepted that men and women were desirably different and worked at making each sex realize their full potential (by removing social constrictions that inhibit the progress of women) our world would be better. For example, I have been socialized to see myself as a leader in the midst of women whether or not I have what it takes to lead. What if from the outset, I was taught that leadership is about who has the capacity and not about who has a manhood. But that was, and still is not the case! Boys grow with an entitlement to leadership.

Well, Oliver, not so long ago, an “ordinary” friend of mine sent me two pictures. His caption was “LOL”.

The first picture had two books placed on a table. The first book was tiny. Its title read, “how to understand a man (full edition)”. The second, an enormous book was entitled, “how to understand a woman (part I)”.

The second picture also had two images, the first image showed a simple, single switch. Its title, equally simple, was “how to switch on a man”. The other image showed a whole switch room with a mosaic of switches everywhere. The title was “how to switch on a lady”. I asked my “ordinary” friend why he found those pictures funny. “Can’t you see it’s funny” was his answer.

I couldn’t see what was funny, but he wouldn’t explain, too. What happened next was predictable: I switched off my mobile data to save myself from the unprovoked onslaught of “LOLs”. As you know, I have a peculiar aversion to that “LOL” thing.

You see, Oliver, my problem is that my ordinary friend confesses to be in support of human rights; he swears he will fight for the empowerment for women to death; he sometimes launches into a tirade against men who marry off their girl children. So, how such a person did not realize that spreading such pictures about women contradicted his own views on women empowerment was baffling.

On the face of it, the picture showed that men are simpler and easier to deal with. But a deeper analysis presents women as a problem to contend with, a social menace and a difficult-to-deal-with kind of character. Such a prejudiced portrayal of women entitles men to an undeserved superiority. A superiority that says, “that’s why they say women are complicated” at the least opportunity.

In many incidents, erring men have clung onto one prejudice or the other to justify their inconsiderate actions. I’ve heard boyfriends say “she’s just being complex, that’s how women are”. With such a statement, the boyfriends absolve themselves of blame without properly examining their own role in the mess. After all women are complex.

Interestingly, while men accept that they are the better gender, women reject the claim with equal vehemence. In most cases though, men use existing discriminatory practices and their physical advantage to silence women. But that isn’t making our world richer because half of humanity is being suppressed. And much-needed energy is wasted on apportioning blame instead of appropriating our complementary differences.

As Chimamanda Adichie put it “gender prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.” And that is what feminism seeks to correct. It seeks to make the girl as free as the boy to aspire to the presidency, to do what she is capable of doing and not what society feels she should do.

Oliver, I am a feminist. So help me God!

Yours ever,
Emmanuel

Emmanuel Asakinaba

Posted by Emmanuel Asakinaba

Student, UG. Poet. Activist. Writer.

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