Feminism: A Lost Cause?
The Feminist Movement
It is a well-known fact that feminism is slowly losing its meaning-now, in an age when in fact, it ought to be gaining momentum. For a long time, my younger self denounced feminism, mainly because like most people, I had conjured up the wrong idea about the word and what it truly entailed. The younger me thought feminism meant abhorring men and holding them in contempt, which was quite confusing. Over the past year, however, I have managed to debunk the myths and notions surrounding feminism and as I have come to realize, feminism has nothing to do with hatred for the opposite sex. Rather, it is simply about promoting equality for both sexes and merely learning to co-exist with men.
Chant about feminism and all you get are sneers from ignorant folk with the illusion that feminists want nothing to do with men; an illusion that people need to be dissuaded of. Of course, it goes without saying that the word 'feminism' has in the past, been scathed and dragged through the mud; commercialized and politicized by people who do not even believe in feminism to begin with, and all for the wrong reasons. Then there are the over-the-top 'feminists' who give feminism a bad name. Still, whether you term yourself a feminist or a believer of female empowerment (same difference, really), you have to agree that the feminism movement is taking a wrong turn.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- The Woman, The Writer, The Feminist
Ever since the enigma that is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie took the world by storm, she has managed, almost effortlessly, to leave everyone in awe. There's no denying that she is a strong and remarkable woman; brilliant writer too, from what I have heard (well, I haven't read any of her work, yet-big deal, I know)...and who can forget, she's the self-appointed poster girl for feminism, a role she has played with much vigour and enthusiasm; so well that she has managed to make feminism appear, well, 'cool'. Chimamanda is the epitome of what a perfect feminist would be like, if ever there was one. I admire her ferociousness and relentless need to shove feminist ideals down the throats of the misogynistic pigs who masquerade the oppression of women as societal norms and right occupancy of gender roles. Never has there been a force so formidable and relentless as the enigma that is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-all props to her!
It is only fitting that such a woman be held in the highest regard, and I did hold her in the highest esteem, up until a few days ago, when, upon one of my many random internet-scouring escapades, I stumbled upon an article from a popular news outlet, discussing Chimamanda's apparent bashing and denunciation of Beyonce's 'brand of feminism'.
I understand where Adichie is coming from. In part, her argument makes a lot of sense. She was famous and successful in her own right, way before Beyonce even mentioned her in the song Flawless. In all fairness, she does not need to thank Beyonce, or anyone else for that matter,, for the widespread fame and attention she now enjoys. Fair enough. However, when Chimamanda veered off to providing a critique of Beyonce's feminism, it wasn't lost on me that some of her views were deeply contradictory.
I have never understood why women always feel the need to compare themselves to other women and, more often than not, try to tear them down. Yes, Chimamanda was right in claiming that Beyonce's feminism "gives a lot of space to the necessity of men". Right as she may be, I feel Beyonce's feminism is more practical and applicable in the society we live in. While I consider myself a feminist and look forward to the day when men and women will be treated equally, I still maintain a fair amount of levelheadedness. Chimamanda's feminism, as admirable as it may be, is far-fetched and ill-fitting in our culture. It is the kind of feminism a girl or woman aspires to, but can never apply in real life because it just won't work. Beyonce's feminism, on the other hand, is not only practical, but also relatable. Her feminism revolves around everyday issues; men, personal success and what have you. She passes across the kind of message girls need to hear before they can reach Chimamanda's level of feminism. The reality is that more young girls will be inspired by Beyonce's feminist approach, as opposed to Chimamanda's, because the former is a proper portrayal of their lives.Chimamanda's feminism, although inspiring, is too overbearing to put in practice, at least in the current age.
Many women and young girls still need to be taught on how they need to co-exist with men, and how they can inspire themselves and transform their lives positively in the midst of men, rather than without them. There is no escaping the opposite sex and as such, the issue of men is a problem women need to learn to deal with, even if that is "giving too much space to the necessity of men".
Secondly, I find it rather hypocritical that a feminist of such stature would try to make another woman's type of feminism appear inferior and 'not good enough'. All the 'woman bashes another woman' narrative is getting old and rather distasteful, I may add. Bottom line, all feminism is good feminism; as long as at the end of the day, it leaves even just a single girl feeling empowered and inspired. The message feminists are trying to pass across is the same, the only difference is in the forms of delivery, which does not matter, as long as the message has the desired impact on its recipients.
Still, I think Chimamanda makes one hell of a fiery feminist, to say the least. Her undying passion and devotion to feminism is utterly refreshing, her approach perceptive and awakening, even though mildly overreaching.
To maintain the relevance of feminism and ensure as many people learn the ideals of feminism, I feel it is important to not just keep the discussion alive, but do so positively, without all the 'branding' of the word and persecution of its agents..
© 2016 Gloria Lihavi Aradi