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P33ish019: Opinion - We Cannot All Be Feminists

In her Feminist Manifesto, Dear Ijeawele, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentioned something she tagged 'Feminism Lite' which basically does not exactly believe men and women can be all-the-way equals, but that men are, sort of, the head: leading; and women the neck: supporting. She thinks it not-good feminism. If I identified as a feminist, I'd probably be a not-exactly-it one, by more than a few standards of this book, that is. What interesting realization that was.

There was outrage on twitter a few days ago because the inaugural winner of the women's Ballon d'Or, Ada Hegerberg was asked by host Martin Solveig if she could twerk. This, of course, got twitter feminists calling sexism and whatever other term has been bastardized these days. Personally, I thought the joke thoughtless at best. It just was not the time, place, or event for it. To have any other reaction--a 'feminist' reaction as it were--to the situation would mean that I consider twerking demeaning, something only for the lower-class; it would imply that I find women who twerk lesser than the ones who don't. And that would be ridiculous.

My friend, Ifeoma, is a core feminist. She boldly and publicly identifies as one. She also is all frills and flowers: she's always had a mental picture of her wedding gown and desires to marry and have babies and all the mushy in-betweens. She is a boss lady; passionately opinionated and every inch the independent woman. But there is a side to her that you would not expect of a feminist--if feminism went by the anti-male code it's getting bandied around as these days: Ify is happy to be the neck in her relationships; she has explicitly voiced her desire to only marry a man who can lead her. "I need a man I can submit to," she would often say, "a man who can tell me 'No.' I don't want a man I can order around." It is important to my friend that she is able to respect the man she promises the rest of her life, enough to defer to him without feeling second-class. I do not think her feminism in any way watered down because of this.

I usually am careful to toss myself into conversations about feminism, you see, because it's just one of those arguments that nobody wins, whatever side you take. Everyone just seems to have their own rigid ideas on what feminism is and you're either doing it that way or you're doing it wrong. Period. I feel the concept has been hijacked and stirred every which way that all we now have is some poo-looking soup for which everyone donated an ingredient (that they insisted must be used) but no one can now eat. And now almost everyone who wears that badge appears to be angry and bitterly opinionated and no longer fighting for equality for the sexes anymore; they just seem to have a need to be right, to amass points, like we in some sort of decathlon.

(E-)Feminists are always the first to deride you for your choices--the one thing feminism seeks to protect. They would rib you if you choose to consider anything important that included men. If you went by them, these standard-setters, you would find that feminism comes in grades: max, plus, and lite; and I honestly couldn't tell you what choices gets you packaged for which grade. Yes, some actually fancy themselves being more feminist than others, as proven by the outrage that followed the last Maggi #CookTheDifference commercial; I mean, every "feminist" that had data at the time just seemed to magically forget the woman saying she loved being everything the Ad said she was: from boss lady to homemaker to caregiver to kitchen grandmaster to being the magnet that brings her family together; nobody forced this life on her, she was doing this on her terms because she loved and preferred to. But no, "the man didn't do the cooking" is all our feminists saw, so something just had to be wrong.

Patriarchy!!

I'm not even going to bother getting into brand philosophies here and how Maggi is still committed to theirs: the woman as the star. If that particular Ad offended you, then I think you need to honestly ask yourself why; like if your fight has gone from seeking equal footing to straight up wanting to switch places with men.

And if you are a man who got fake-offended by that Ad, well, I already called it: bullshit. But I digress.

It is as though to be considered as truly upholding the tenets of feminism, women have to come some way, be some way: arrogant, unpleasable, unleadable, shoulder-chip on, actually lacking joy, never-saying-yes-just-cos-it's-a-man-asking. As if this was an us-versus-them campaign and not an is-this-what-you-want and are-you-happy-with-this fight.

I mean, I know some of us can't wait to get married and ask our husbands to go to the market and/or cook before we get back from work, but what does that guarantee, really? I have seen homes where the man cooks and cleans but is nil on the bills and I can tell you that the stress--on the woman--is still the same as when he comes through on his share of the bills but acts like domestic work and childcare is strictly women's business: something is still not balanced. But then again, there still are women (that we know, today) who truly do not mind this kind of either/or situation in their man-woman relationships: some women only care that the man provides and they're happy to sort the rest, no fowls called. And yes, they might even identify as feminists and it would not be your job to disrespect that.

This is why Luvvie Ajayi's position on feminism in I'm Judging You would probably be my all time favorite on the subject. It is from this book that I at least felt feminist, albeit dissident; turns out we don't all have to do it the same way, after all. We only have to do it towards the same goal.

In the chapter, Nobody Wins At The Feminism Olympics, I almost spoke in tongues when Luvvie said, "the pressure to fit the increasingly standards for being a feminist can be too much, It's like we're in a feminism competition, and the person who can prove they are the most feminist wins an island. [...] Feminism is not some exclusive clubhouse where you have to dress a certain way and use a certain password to be allowed in. It is not a way to make women measure their lives against other women's lives. And it certainly is not about following rules." You really should get that book. She wraps the chapter up by saying that "whatever it is you are doing right now, you are a feminist if that is what you want to be doing. If you are free to make your own choices, and think that other women should also have that freedom, you are a feminist."

It really is that simple: equal footing, choice.

I am tired of supposed feminists who would demand the head of other women for the choices they are happy to make, just because it doesn't meet their approval. And honestly, this thing where we get mad-sad on behalf of women who in fact aren't sad-mad about their life but we think they should be? It has to stop.

How can you let somebody tag you 'wife material'? Why date to marry? Why lose your person by taking your husband's name or describing yourself by the 'wife' title? Why allow yourself be called 'Mrs.' just 'cause you married? Why get a divorce and not clean him up for all he's worth? Why stay married? Why have an abortion? Why have kids? Why not have kids? Why flats and not heels? Why always heels? Why wear makeup? Why relax your hair? Why propose first? Why wait to be proposed to? Why work 100 hours a week while he stays at home? Why be a housewife when he works? Why combine the two? Why suck his d**k? Why say 'please'? Why say 'thank you'? Why dance on national TV? Why accept his apology? Why. Why. Why!

You just can't win. Whatever choice you make, you can rest assured that there's always going to be a feminist brow raised because while you're holding it up for this divide of the sistahood, the other divide--because there is a divide--has something to say about how it just cost you some points.

Today's (supposed) feminists have the least respect for fellow women's choices, but they are the quickest to get faux furious when one man takes advantage of that dissension, or another makes ill-timed jokes about some stupid dance move; as if that is The feminism issue.

Heck, some of us women need emancipation from fellow women, so what are we sellin'.

I am a woman who's had my choices spit on one time too many. I have had too many cases where what I wanted didn't matter. And yes, half those times, it was a woman deciding, so please. But yes I understand this fight. And if the label is so damn important, then please hit me with the feminist badge; I'll wear it because I am a feminist on all the counts that matter: I am a respecter of respecting whatever a woman--any woman--decides to do with her life, or time, or body. And as often as it depends on me, I ensure that people around me gets and learns to give that same respect. So if that fits into feminism 101, then please enroll me. But then again, what's the point if there's no passing the darn course anyway?

I do not think a woman who sees marriage as an accomplishment a lesser feminist than the one who doesn't care for it. If she chose stripping and you chose medicine, it alright if neither of you was subjugated into it. So she took her husband's name and you couldn't ever? Okay, great! Or she chooses to be the one who goes to the market and/or always have a hot meal and warm bath waiting for the man of her house but you just can't relate to markets or domestic chores? Well, fine! Or you think she doesn't qualify as feminist because she is content, actually happy and at peace with doing her 'neck' duties, choosing to just be her husband's support and not much else? Choices, grandma.

I believe that women should be held to equal standards as men. But I also believe that there are cases where we expect (and maybe even get) an adjustment to those standards that men wouldn't (get); like domestic violence.

I believe that women should not be mocked for things that men get praised for. But I also believe there are certain things women won't ever so freely do (like roadside peeing, ha!), and it has nothing to do with being weak.

I believe that women make just as (or even more) excellent leaders as men. But I also think that in marriage/relationships, men generally behave better when they do not feel like they're in a power tussle with their woman. Same way that women behave better when they're loved and treated right.

I think gender roles are mostly more beneficial to men. But I also think that--English be dammed--there will always be things (around the house/in the family) that men can only 'help' with. Women, too.

I also think some of these always-got-something-to-say feminists are bold-faced liars: many of their husbands maybe only ever is home on time enough to fix dinner or mind the baby like once in a month or three--which is when you would see them gram it--and there might even have to be a whole world of sniffing and coaxing and whatever other manipulation tactic involved, but they'll call you slave because you're in the kitchen every other evening; you whose husband never leaves home without a shopping list o! But no, they'll make it sound like all they gotta do every evening is return from the office, put their feet up and order hub-service. Lies! And you know this by how often they need to shame other women for doing all they can to keep their (unabusive) relationships working; they actually deal and put up with worse: they're cooking and cleaning and shopping and nursing and picking up the laundry and heck, putting up with cheating and other stuff you probably wouldn't, but their head's so shoved far up butts that aren't even theirs that it'd be a cold day in hell when they come out and ask for help. Because they've so swiftly shamed others for far less. So they find some comfort in throwing their imaginary life in the faces of women who actually live it.

Okay, I'll stop. You get the picture.

Basically, though, we all could use a world where women are free do whatever we want and however, without needing approval. I believe that our choices, whatever they are, should not have to be subjected to any form of deservingness test to be respected. I believe that said choices should not have to be screened by how it makes men, or other women for that matter, feel. I believe that our accountability should be our responsibility and ours alone. I believe that if it would (not) be done to, or taken/expected from a man, it should not be demanded of the woman either. Unless, of course, in affairs strictly decided by nature. I believe that every woman should be free to do what's best for her, and only her.

I also believe that some of our feminist sisthren need to quit holding other women to their own myopic, and even misogynistic, standards.

I mean, it really isn't rocket science if we all for a minute would ditch our need to be the one who's doing or saying it right, because different doesn't necessarily mean wrong.

If Miss A chooses to not kneel down to feed her husband at her traditional marriage and Miss B doesn't feel right not doing it for the culture, their feminism is still each valid: it's their choice. And if I choose a life of just work/business/career and no marriage/kids and my friend's picture of fulfilment is perfect without a happy marriage and babies, then please respect our feminism. One's choice does not in any way invalidate the other's: to each their feminism.

Feminism never said our choices had to be the same; only that we are free to make them, and that they be respected because they matter.

We matter.

Equally.

But then again, we cannot all be feminists; not the same way, anyway. And definitely not by any one person's standards.

###

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