So, a while ago I can’t remember when exactly, someone I admire quite a bit sent me a viral video. A man in the rural setting, speaking to his friends about how he could beat up his wife to a pulp in an instant and the ignominy of men who allow themselves to be as he put it ‘beaten up by their wives.’ In the midst of heavy laughter amongst them, his wife appears suddenly, very Nollywood-esque and is immediately on him the minute she spots him. Lifting him by the collar and occasionally pummeling him, as she repeatedly asks him about the children, the upkeep of the house and his lolling around with his friends instead of attending to those matters specifically. Matters which I will point out to you are ‘traditionally female roles,’ so you know there is an inherent denigration there already, especially in the African setting.
The man after thorough scrutiny and assault by her, in full view of his friends is finally escorted away, by her, by the collar might I add, which she has bunched up in fists as she drags him away. And if you’re wondering, no, she is not a giant with brute strength, she is just an average sized-woman and he is just an average-sized man, bigger than her, to further magnify the true absurdity or irony of the situation, I am not sure which. The scene closes to the resounding laughter of his friends and to my eternal shame, mine too. In fact calling what I did laughter is a gross understatement.
Now let’s begin at the beginning. Before even feminism, we have the patriarchy and I don’t even mean the obvious intricate infrastructure that over millennia has been built to just destroy women. Whether you’re talking about victim blaming in rape cases, corporate mistreatment of mothers and women alike, domestic violence, gender-roles, honour killings, disgust and objectification of the female form, I mean you name it. That’s not even the issue to me. The real issue to me is the whisper in almost everyone’s head that says, ‘men are better than women’ constantly. This to me is the real culprit and honestly the measure of the beast. Because try as we all may, this whisper still exists in all of us . This whisper that informs us subconsciously.
This is the true enemy of feminism, what feminism is fighting everyday tooth and nail to dismantle and silence. If feminism is Samurai Jack, then patriarchy is Aku, shape-shifting master of darkness, literally. The operative word being shape-shifting. You’ll see why.
This is where the fraud comes in or is it slips in. I think, in recent times there has been a profound misconstruction in the decomposition of patriarchy by feminists and let no one mistake this for a denouncement of my feminism because I am a feminist through and through.
Patriarchy is not men. In fact patriarchy exists outside of men (as ridiculous as that sounds or not actually). And the problem of feminism is that it has assumed men are tantamount to the patriarchy which is the worst possible thing it could have done. And the minute I say that, many if not all feminists will rise up in arms and tell me I’ve got it all wrong. That what I am talking about is radical feminism and not ‘feminism feminism’ and to that I say. The rabbit hole goes deeper than that but then again it always does.
My evidence is the term that many feminists use, even male ones, even the very mild ones, even me. Male privilege. And no I don’t think it doesn’t exist, male privilege is a living breathing organism. I just don’t think it exists in the way we think it exists.
Males aren’t enjoying because of the patriarchy, in fact I’d argue men are the ones suffering the most. And with the patriarchy there is male privilege and the more obscure female privilege that most people don’t want to talk about. And here is where the problem begins. The denial.
Most of us have assumed that men are in their slots of power, up there in the sky, past the corporate ladder, trampling on these poor weak women enjoying when it’s anything but that. I will quote one of my favourite modern philosophers, Alain De Botton, ‘any success must admit to the loss that it sacrificed.’ The opportunity cost is not a concept that ends in the Economics class, it is real. Patriarchy has given men more money, more power and more control and stripped them of even more.
Men can’t cry. Men are nothing without success, they are success objects. Men are barely enjoying raising their kids. Men can’t get any help if abused, hell men can barely report abuse without never hearing the end of ridicule. Men can’t dare experiment sexually. Men can’t be vulnerable. Men are conscripted automatically. Men have no say in what happens to their children if their children’s mothers decide to abort/adopt. Men’s sexual abuse is the most notoriously unreported crime, ever, I think in the history of the world. Men’s suicide which has always been historically high has now really reached maybe the highest point. Men have to man up, daily.
And this is just the tip of the ice-berg, trust me because men won’t tell you. With the patriarchy, the only person who benefits is, the patriarchy. Men are getting a shit deal too. They are victims and the biggest irony of all is that a man is the perfect victim because you can count on him to take it, silently.
So you must understand how terrible it is when feminism pillories men for being the patriarchy while in fact they are right down there with us under the patriarchy’s boot, squirming.
Now the next question is naturally. Then who set up patriarchy if not men? And to that I honestly don’t know but what I do know is, there is no way it could have been men, not in their entirety in any case. For me it’s right up there with the unsolved millennium problems and conjectures. But what I do know is that there are many people, male and female in various ways that benefits from patriarchy just like there are many who actively benefit from racism and as a result have helped maintain its structures all this time.
And hold on because the plot thickens, feminism has even gone further to spread some terrible lies about men. That men are more violent which is supported by scientific studies of how their amygdala is less developed and what not. Forgetting all the while that being violent is a behaviour and thus a choice. Men are not more violent they are just more capable of violence. There is a difference. I have seen women who are violent with a capital V and the studies show that their amygdalas are ‘just fine.’
Then there is the worst lie of them all. For me especially, that men are simple. Not in the classic way we talk about simplicity in terms of parsimony or efficiency of using less and getting more. But when most say men are simple they mean men are idiots, they are pathetic, they have no feelings and emotions, they just want sex and food like wild baboons and its’ heartbreaking to see a man actually believe this. And here’s the shape shifting thing I was talking about earlier, when men are cornered and internalize these messages guess how it come back as, exactly, the patriarchy. They become the rapists, law makers who put taxes on tampons, men who enforce gender roles and the cycle goes on and on.
Now feminism has become the ambassador of the patriarchy.
And now here comes the trickiest part. Checking yourself. For me, it began when I watched a documentary on Men’s Rights Activism called ‘The Red Pill’. In fact I encourage every feminist to watch that documentary, the metaphor is apt is all I will say.
For me it all came to a head with the story I started with that at the time I didn’t even realize was damaging. How I was laughing hysterically at a person being assaulted. I mean, I might as well watch a snuff film because clearly that’s what I enjoy if history is any indication. Now imagine it like this, if a man in that situation came to a Help Center that I say worked at what do you think someone like me would do? It is this question or rather the answer that makes it imperative for me to check myself constantly ever since.
Moreover, one other time that really forced me to check the error of my ways was recently when a great friend asked me if I would trust myself to be in an enclosed room with him or if I would be afraid of rape. And again to my eternal shame I said,’ hell no. I don’t trust anybody. I don’t trust men like that’ verbatim.
I will tell you this, at the time I was so indignant, naming all the instances I have heard of men turning on women and entirely forgot about how much I was disrespecting this good human being in front of me who by the way, I know would never do anything like that to me, and I convinced him of his vileness too which is exactly what women fight to diminish. I know he became convinced of his maleficence simply by being because with downcast eyes, wanting to tear his hair off, he answered with a feeble, ‘if that’s how you feel about me, then men have failed women.’ How tragic.
So yes, there is the fraud and its insidious nature.
Checking yourself is hard but it must be done. It is the nature of power to corrupt and now feminism has that power so it is of the utmost importance to ensure this power doesn’t corrupt.
The thing I do know now is that victims aren’t always what we think they are. For more illustration on this check out Malcolm Gladwell’s decomposition of David and Goliath. Brilliant!
For those who do in fact believe me, the feminists most especially must now be wondering. But how did such a malignant behaviour slip into a wonderful movement such as feminism? And it is, very wonderful indeed.
Especially in the last year with the reforms done in the sector of corporate female mistreatment which still has a long way to go but wow, I’m glad I lived to see this.
So, how this cancer got in is actually very simple, it is in the evolution of feminism. I think feminism has changed and as a result these mutations have come up because I don’t think women sat down and decided men needed to be cut down to size just for fun. It is just a consequence of figuring out the path that you get lost.
We have forgotten the feminism of old. The first feminism and no I am not talking about the first wave or the second wave which is really just about white feminism. I am an African woman after all. I mean the feminism of our grandmothers or rather my grandmother. Feminism centered on uplifting women not equalizing them.
I really do believe that this is where feminism went wrong. This feminism of equality is nonsense and you know what they say, garbage in, garbage out. The feminism of old is about equity not equality.
And I sort of blame the fight for racism a little here that became I suppose too hot for feminists to handle at a point. Feminism is starting to use the incorrect model in its undertakings. To approach the patriarchy how activists for Africans (I mean anyone with black skin who is really just an African wherever they ended up via colonization, diaspora or the worst of all slavery) approach racism. You see the battle against racism is a battle of equality, to prove that we are all humans, black, white, brown or otherwise and that makes sense in that context but not for feminism.The battle for feminism is not a battle of equality, men and women are not equal, neither do they need to be. They are complements which a totally different thing.
The fight for feminism is a battle for equity and honestly it’s a much older fight than even racism which makes it hard to explain how it became subservient to the latter in the first place. Understanding this complementarity aspect is the biggest bone of contention to men and women because somehow we always end up competing which makes absolutely no sense. The point was never to usurp one another, it was always to help one another.
Feminism should not be about turning men into women which is as absurd as it sounds. It is about increasing women’s engagement with power, in careers, all areas that were previously closed to women but the key pointer is for the women to engage as women and not as women-turn-men. Women are supposed to bring their femininity into boardrooms, courtrooms, office spaces as men take their masculinity there too.
I personally believe in God so I will use that. For non-believers insert what you like but for me, I really do truly believe that God created us with deficiencies to be filled with ‘the other’ purposely. This is why I find the story of creation quite problematic where man precedes woman, in fact she almost seems an afterthought but I’ll leave that little rabbit-hole for now.
For me feminism is actually a call to humanity. Recognizing that yes, men are bigger than women physically and because might is well, might they can easily torment women forever even at their own torment but they shouldn’t. They should recognize that because of the deficit in might they should fill it up with justice. And the same is true for women, men also have such deficiencies in comparison to women. I’ll give the most obvious one.
Birth. I choose it because most people don’t understand the immense power of life and death that women possess. Women are literally vessels of life. This is a remarkable power as it is a remarkable sacrifice.
I personally always find it absolutely hilarious when I see especially men discussing the politics of abortion and birth control or babies in general. And I wonder to myself, don’t they know that whatever their clerics, judges and politicians agree on the true judges of whether this life enters this world or not has already been decided? It has always been up to women. We are the owners of that decision.
I could literally kill myself or starve myself and my baby is dead too. Isn’t that abortion? And I don’t need state-funding or special pills to do so. In fact women had been dealing with the business of maternity before government or medicine.
And I use this example because once women have babies inside them, they have all the practical power but now the humanity I was talking about earlier comes into play here. Women can either torment men with this power they have over life and death or accommodate men because the power doesn’t end after birth and we all know this. The loyalty we accord to our mothers is something perverse and this goes a long way to show us the power of matriarchy which I think is often underappreciated.
In fact I have noticed, people who are scarred by their mothers are some of the most severed abused people on the planet, right up there with POWs and hostages of Guantanamo Bay and this is just one area where women trounce men. Part of that elusive female privilege nobody ever wants to talk about.
Finally after all those tedious things I’ve said we are at the only part I really want you to remember. The so what to all of this, now that we are in this mess.
The first is to move the dial of feminism away from trying to attain equality and instead to attaining equity.
And before I mention the others, I want to mention something I would advise against which is the renunciation of feminism. The title of the article is indeed, ‘the feminist fraud,’ but I would like to think jumping ship makes no sense at this point. The vessel is good and so are the engineers, we just need to tweak the blue prints.
I am not one of those who would say oh let’s just scrape it all and go for human rights. That’s like saying the answer to racism is colour blindness which in actuality is diminishing all the pain of all the Africans who have and continue to suffer under white supremacy.
The truth is, feminism is called feminism for a reason, it is because females have suffered and still continue to suffer. We still live in the same world where the #metoo stories exist, where every other day in South Africa at least one woman is brutally murdered by a man, where Sudanese girls defending themselves from abuse by their illegal husbands are sentenced to death, where there is a teen pregnancy crisis in the Phillipines and where girls in Pakistan are still killed for honour and if they survive they are cajoled by society to forgive also known as exonerating the attempted murder.
We must be careful not to diminish the very real struggles of women because its delicate and it always is when people are in pain.
We only need to add to our repertory, the plight of men which means working hand in hand with Men’s Rights Activists because everyone needs help. And let me be very clear, this is advice is only for real feminists, radical feminists who I personally do not consider feminists who want to build women up on the pyre of men or misogynist groups who have no real issues to discuss other than whingeing about women belonging in the kitchen or their invisible emasculation are fringe groups that will always exist and hopefully will one day be extinguished because what I do know now is that we really are in this together.
Men too should be heard which is something that is regularly overlooked. In fact ignorance is one of the ways men have been abused for a long time. It’s time to embrace them because they do in fact matter. I did hear one really interesting statement from a male activist saying that, ‘In geometry the distance between A and B is the same as the distance between B and A, so if a man must listen to a woman to understand her experience the opposite must also be true.’
As good feminist males decided to listen and reassure women on their journey of feminism it is time for good feminist females to also listen and reassure men on their journey of feminism.
Feminism is for all of us, and has remarkably changed the landscape of the world for women, for the better . Why shouldn’t it do the same for men?
Men proliferate the patriarchy because feminism has abandoned them in the old world with a noose. Men too want laws to respect their reproductive rights and give them paternity leave so they too can bond with their babies, they want laws to protect them from false accusation of sexual assault. They want to be able to be vulnerable without immediately being labelled, ‘gay’ not that I have anything against homosexuality. Men want to be heard and embraced in all their complexity. They want women to love them for them not their money, their jobs or their cars. And I think the most critical one of them all, men want to be allowed to love women correctly without the crippling fear of ostracism as well as each other.
There is one of my all-time favourite lyrics of all time I think perfectly fits this moment.
I am not the only traveler, who has not repaid his debt.
Lord Huron- The place we met.