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I have one problem with feminism by Saddam Ninhor

Now, I do not wish to come off as an anti-feminist, so let us get this fact sorted out. It seems  there are so many misunderstandings about feminism: only lesbians are feminists, being a feminist means you hate men, feminists think women are better than men. The list goes on and on. This is not what feminism means at all.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” and as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” It does not mean women should receive special treatment or men should be put down in order for women to rise above.

So, if you think there should be equality between the sexes, then you are a feminist. It should be as simple as that, but unfortunately, it’s not. Basically, the problem is not with the idea, it is about the word “feminism”. But that’s not my point today.

Times have changed. In recent times and mostly in the past decade or two, feminism and related movements have taken a bolder step towards achieving their goals which primarily is: advocating equal societal rights and opportunities for the female child/women. Now, while I cannot challenge the importance of this noble move, I can firmly attest to the fact that it has left a gaping hole in the growth of the male child. This like I stated above is largely due to the misconceptions emanating from misunderstandings of the word “feminism” mainly by the so-called feminists. You should also understand that this article is based on local observation.

 

On an average level, we find out that there are certain traits exhibited by the male and female child that puts them naturally in different worlds. For instance, in a room full of toys, there is that almost certain distinction as to the choice of play toys either gender will choose. While the female would stick to barbie dolls and other soft toys, the male would go for the heavy machinery and most likely the action figures. As I said, this is a majority issue and as such, sometimes depending on temperament and upbringing, differences can manifest, but this is mostly the case. This goes to prove that naturally, the male child is rather more obstreperous and raucous than the female child who is less. This trait however is one that needs to be controlled and guided as it could be useful. Boys should not have to be punished for being who nature has made them to be. They should not be tamed to be like girls who seemingly have a quieter and less aggressive approach to life. The society we find ourselves today pushes the female child to engage in challenging activities, chores, sports and even joining the army in a bid to get them tougher and be more undaunted. In all these, the male child is left groping in darkness and expected to live up to expectations because it’s supposedly an inbuilt trait.  Boys are made to restrain themselves when they should be given an outlet for the bubbling energy while girls are pushed to garner maximum energy and momentum. Girls in some cases are challenged to be bad-ass and undaunting. That is wrong. Feminism should not teach girls to bes boys, it should rather teach them to be able to stand up for themselves and pursue their dreams and lofty ambitions.

 

“Here’s an example of how this works “on the ground,” so to speak. Like most academics, I read The Chronicle of Higher Education and try to keep my pulse on what is happening in American academic life. For the past several years there has been a major “push” to get women into disciplines and professions historically populated mainly by men. One article I read in the Chronicle quoted feminist academics as saying that the profession of engineering, for example, will be improved by having more women engineers. Are the ranks of engineering closed to women? That’s the impression given. Or do few women really want to be engineers? God forbid anyone would suggest such a reason! But my question is this: Why do we never read an article where academics, men or women, argue that disciplines and professions traditionally populated by women should be opened to men because they will be improved by having more men in them? I have never heard anyone makes such a case. Why? The disciplines and professions of nursing, social work, teaching and interior decorating are dominated by women. Is that because their ranks are closed to men or because few men really want to enter those professions? Would those professions be improved by having more men in them? Who is asking such questions—in academic circles? Nobody that I know of.”  ~Roger Olson.

 

Still in the education environment, the “what a man can do, a woman can do better” belief has led to a visible decline in the male child education. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the male child is not being sent to school, no. Of course if the fees can be provided, every child has the basic right to good education. But, have you noticed lately that on an average scale, education at all levels is more evident in the female child than the male? I did a little research with the top fifty scores at the end of an academic year across ten schools and out of 500 students, 327 were female students and ranked in top thirty of about seven of the schools. Hold that thought! Try visiting schools where there are combined sexes, and from my observation on one occasion, the physics teacher, a woman, took time to answer the apparently flimsy question of a female student and dismissed one from a male student as immaterial. And she will be a feminist! Male failures are ridiculed while the female shortcomings are pampered and dismissed as one of those things. “She’s a girl now, give her time.” That is so irritating.

 

Another glaring instance of this social bias placed on the male child is the fact that concerns sex education. With Nigeria as a case study, it is obvious that a typical parent not take time to educate their child/children on relations and communication with the opposite sex but would rather label them as destiny killers, a fact that is most disturbing. Now, let’s say a parent decides to, it is obvious the female child would be treated as fragile and weak and as such is told to abstain from being involved in any way with the opposite sex without good reason. A typical Nigerian parent would use the line, ‘if a man touches you, you will get pregnant.’ Much as that is a retarded mentality, it calls for consideration that the male child is not afforded such luxury no matter how archaic. In our society today, we have male children who think its okay to abuse the opposite sex verbally or physically if they do not succumb to their desires. We have men who consider every woman a potential sex object or whore and would stop at nothing to flaunt disgusting words and body parts at these women. In our society, we have men who feel that there is no need to have a healthy relationship with a woman but to rather jump around perching here and there as time passes by. Albeit, their female counterparts are working tirelessly to build stable lives and homes for their already or potential husbands.

 

On the issue of social relations, it is a well established fact that a boy would rather comfortably be online chatting with female counterparts to avoid the shame of face to face communication. Many boys would barely last five minutes talking to a girl they obviously have a thing for, not because they do not know what to say but there is that problem of self expression. It is ofcourse, easier sitting behind a computer screen or typing with a phone.  Online video games is a far better option for them and when they are stimulated, masturbation becomes an escape route. The male child is raised with that impression that he is the hunter and not the hunted thus making it impossible for him to be himself in public all in the bid to make a good impression. As a child raised under strict christian values, attended a missionary boys secondary school, I found it difficult and still do in some cases to overcome that shyness. Most times, I just laugh for long durations at dry jokes all in a bid to pass time and come up with something to say. Lately, I am working on meeting people halfway and trying to some extent to just establish friendships. Most times, men think it’s all about sex. That is the only thing a girl has to offer. Can you blame them? When a child has been raised under strict christian doctrines like that seen in Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus”, it becomes only normal to see the woman as the helper, subordinate and weaker vessel. Joy Isi Bewaji made a post that trended just about recently, about a boy who felt his ego trampled on by a girl he’d gone a date with, verbally assaulting her after the girl in question politely turned down his relationship advances. She went further by promptly refunding the money spent on her. While majority had a good laugh at the boy in question, the underlying truth in that post remains “the male child thinks that having a penis is all you need to be a man.” He goes about expecting to be worshiped and his every demand met from the seemingly inferior female. This is sad. Men most times, when ready to settle, go to meet their mothers to help them look for a well-mannered village girl. That is how bad it gets. We have men who cannot solve their marital problems and would at every turn, run home for parental and kin intervention.

 

I am not threatened by the idea of feminism because I am a strong believer on gender equality. But, I am concerned for the larger scale of misguided individuals who by reason of this idea hate men, criticize and label them weak-minded, myopic and indecisive. I am concerned for the innumerable number of women who blindly refute male association because of the fear of being preponderated. Quoting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We say to girls, ‘you can have ambition but not too much. You should be successful, but not too successful otherwise you will threaten the man.” As much as this is what feminism is fighting, it is on the other hand doing just that. The men are threatened. Men are now considered less for jobs they qualify for, men are now the scapegoat of the society. The woman is made to walk on red carpets and worshiped as being successful and rising from the ashes while a man with the same story is passed off as stuff we hear everyday. The favour is no more equal. It is tilting to favour the female child. She is now priority when there should be shared care and attention.

 

I have one problem with feminism, which is: “if the female child is now better educated and nurtured, does that not defeat the whole idea of feminism? Or let me put it this way, if the female child is considered more fragile than the male one, is gender still equal?”

 

Maybe for once, we need to retrace our steps because at this speed, we’ll wake up to a world where a man does not have an idea where to stick his penis during intercourse and maybe when humanity is threatened with extinction, you’ll remember these words.

 

Remember, “…the labours of our heroes past, should never be in vain.”

 

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