According to (one of my most favourite writers) Chimamande Ngozi Adichie, feminism is “political, social and economic equality of the sexes”. Notice it’s equality of the sexes and not man-hating, nor is it women wanting to be men or man-like.
Feminism is influential in effective woman empowerment because it recognizes women as actual individuals with autonomy and agency.That provides the worth of being treated with the same dignity as men when it comes to female occupation in politics, society and the work place. Although the aim is to be treated equally regardless of gender. It is not an endeavour to make men the standard of recognized autonomy and women the derivative thereof but to completely do without the ideology of gender being the utmost prioritized measure of competency. When in actuality all people regardless of gender have both characteristics of femininity and masculinity that are not exclusive to their genatalia. Truth is, “being emotional” should not only be associated with women but men too. Strength should be expected from all people, I mean life in and of itself requires significant endurance for effective survival and that should not only be demanded of men. Feminism on gender equality also offers a critique on both masculinity and femininity as well as explore problematic societal standards or meaning thereof.
Thus feminism is a necessary movement because not until several hundred years ago women could not vote. To this day, women in Saudi Arabia cannot even walk in public without the supervision of a man. Additionally, in the South African context until a little bit over twenty years ago black people could not even vote. Herein lies black feminism that addresses both gender and racial inequality in the context of both men and women of colour. At this moment if you are an archaic sexist or racist ie. an outright bigot. You are having difficulty reconciling feminism with addressing inequality in the male community.
Fortunately for you, hypothetically speaking, if you believe that both your son and daughter deserve equal allowance money for the same chores done…’tis true you are a male feminist too!
Now climb onto the boat of male privilege above the turbulent waters of patriarchy and male tears that keep the said boat afloat.
Today’s voyage is not in the ocean but through a space that is just as vast…CYBERSPACE i.e. the internet. The latest, social media network movement on the internet, starring avid “Meninists” #DontMancriminate was established by a questionable Indian lifestyle websited called Maggcom. From what can be gathered mancriminate is a play on the word discriminate where the prefix “dis” is substituted with the prefix “man”. It definitely sounds and reads strange but what does it mean exactly?
The following memes (images from the internet with catchy phrases or messages) usually used for humorous entertainment value will now be used to elaborate on “mancriminating”. Again, not a real word that cannot be found anywhere significant but worth looking into. Here goes nothing (literally failed endeavours at reclaiming manhood).
Image number 1.
Clearly the “you” in question is the individual that wants gender equality i.e. feminists. So, apparently being polite is oppressive. Also, these standards of being a “gentlemen” when catering to a “lady” were not created or upheld by women for women. They were created by men for men to reinforce patriarchal ideologies of female counterparts being delicate and in need of perpetual assistance or guidance from a man. Call it the “save-the-damsel-in-distress” hero syndrome if you will or Freud’s Electra Complex realized. In addition, the binaries of gender identity of a man being aggressive and masculine or a women being soft and feminine are not only arbitrary but ridiculous. All individuals (regardless of gender) can be simultaneously feminine and masculine as well as soft or rough depending on the circumstances warranting a particular response. All people possess a combination of characteristics that arise at appropriate intervals e.g. all people are aggressive when they fight. If you have watched reality TV lately, violence is not an occurrence exclusive to men.
Politeness as members of civil society is expected from all people; but unfortunately for men it is a major disqualification from the “hero club” if they choose to be “rude”. Be mad at patriarchy anonymous man in the meme not feminists.
And here we have…
Image number 2
Well, unfortunately for females it is a man’s world; however, I agree, that type of world is “BULLSHIT”. This is because in a man’s world women exist for men’s sexual consumption. Clubs offer free entrances and drinks to women during specific time periods (peak hours) to attract men. Men indirectly pay for access to many women by buying women drinks with the expectation of potential coitus; it is not altruism. Clubs and spaces of recreational entertainment exist for men to catalogue women according to their preference. Drinks and entrances are free for women because they are the product being sold.
Somehow at the club men are the pigs but women end up being the bacon.The cartoon below illustrates the said “free” model that essentially reiterates the idea that if something is free for you than you are the product.
Recently I invited two UCT students in the two most male dominated faculties of Law and Engineering. Emma Reinecke is a UCT student studying law; Lex Bess an engineering student. They were invited to share personal accounts on issues of inequality surrounding feminism and provide their opinions.They are no means experts but women who are femininsts navigating the career world of male dominated industries. They provided authentic empirical evidence of shared experiences and epiphanies.
Inequality within the following contexts was explored at length:
• Mainstream media with the portrayal of the female body.
• The portrayal of powerful women.
• Female presence in the work place.
• Maintenance and meaning of femininity for women in male dominated industry.
• Female sexuality and how that impacts marginalization.
Lex Bess listed Indra Nooyi as a powerful woman and that her accomplishments are negated as CEO of Pepsi due to media’s prioritizing of her identity as a mother instead. Her gender was identified as taking precedence over her capabilities and fetes as a CEO of a major corporation. Whereas her male counterparts get their career achievements prioritized and not how they “manage” to be “career men” as well as fathers at the same time. She also emphasized that femininity in the work place can be a source of power and not weakness.
Emma agreed with the above and commented in the reporting of the “Miley, what’s good” incident of the 2015 VMAs.
This incident was when Nicki Minaj confronted Miley Cyrus on an international platform about insulting comments she made about her. This served as an example to provide an analysis of media’s response of leniency towards Miley Cyrus and hostile disapproval of Nicki Minaj.Ultimately their respective racial identity politics impacted how they were treated.
There was more discussion about other additional problematic elements of pop culture and media.
For more on what Emma, Lex and Mbali had to say. Please view the video clip below. It is lengthy but worthwhile.