Let’s be honest no demographic of the human race has suffered as much as the childbearing ones. No matter what men have faced, women have faced the same and then more. If men were chained, women were chained double and forced to confirm. The general consensus was that womanhood (its feminity and sentimental thought process) was infinitely more disastrous than the plague. That has been the reality and it still is the dominating reality in most societies. On this account, feminism since its inception has given the right motivation for women and young girls to awaken their desires and strive towards that which is theirs. The first wave of feminism led to women’s suffrage under Emmeline Pankhurst; which not only legally allowed women to vote but also focused on legal equality, freedom, and political rights. By the second wave of feminism, the 1980s, feminism had planted seeds in all communities. Women mostly in western nations were becoming increasingly liberated. The intertwining of the world allowed icons like Bell Hooks, Maya Angelou, Diane Von Furstenberg, Nawal El Saadawi, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna and numerous others to not only touch lives of girls and women but to do it on a global scale.
The popularity of the movement has done wonders for the female population, and as a girl born in the centre of it all, I am a testament. Ever since primary school, I noticed that the toppers in my class, my school and all forms of academic examinations were mostly female. Not to say the boys didn’t give us a run for our money but largely the torch was carried by girls. The world’s shift in attention provided the right encouragement to surpass the expectations associated with being a female. Today women stand neck-to-neck at the very least with men; females are outshining the opposite gender not to mention have greater educational and professional aspirations. Don’t get me wrong there are many who still are tied by patriarchy, I am not talking about those. I am talking about the females who are given the same opportunities as men.
Feminism has not only re-programmed the way females see themselves but also the societies, this includes boys and men. This global redefining of female roles and positioning has changed the male-female gender dynamics drastically (despite many refusing to accept that things have altered).Unfortunately, the other side of the coin has not been very kind to the male population.
At grass root feminism has been translated into ‘females above males’; now commonly known as ‘woman power’. This leaves our male counterparts in an odd position since feminism has seeped and penetrated into schools. In nations such as the US and the UK feminist workshops, classes and lectures are specifically targeted at young boys from elementary (primary) schools all the way to universities. Programs like ‘Good Lad’ and ‘Great Men Value Women Project’ teach them about "the scale of sexual harassment and violence aimed at female students". Young boys are singled out in class and taught how their gender is the single reason for the damnation of the world: politically, economically, socially and personally.
“Men and boys are constantly portrayed as predatory, sexist, their sense of humour is vilified and their behaviour is regarded as unacceptable. Factor in the constant diet we are fed of men as perpetrators of rape, murder and domestic violence. Boys must wonder whether they will ever be able to do anything right. This must make it painfully difficult for young men and women to build up relations based on honesty, love and trust.”- Belinda Brown
From the rhetoric, it is hard to believe a man-precisely a young man- is almost twice as likely to be a victim of a violent crime as a woman. And not just street or physical violence either. Reports by the NSPCC and ChildLine in 2009, both found that young men are also gravely affected by domestic (romantic relationships) and sexual abuse. The report by ChildLine found that children who called to report sexual abuse, a total of 8,457 were girls while 4,780 were boys. This same charity found boys were more likely to say they had been sexually abused by a woman than by a man. So imagine what it might feel like to be a young man, beaten or sexually abused possibly by a woman, attending a workshop which says that simply because he is a young man, he should cover himself with a blanket of guilt and shame as a potential abuser.
Radical or misguided feminism hasn’t just targeted young men by drowning them in embarrassment, shame and guilt of their ‘sexual valour’ but also for their masculinity as a whole. Slowly and methodically misguided feminism is bulldozing men and masculinity. The latest feminist campaigns have successfully enabled women to take charge of their lives and equally succeeded in subliminally telling men to “fuck off”. The FCKH8 Campaign is a lovely example where cute innocent looking girls crudely retaliate against ‘gentleman-like’ gestures (because these acts stereotype girls as “girly”). This makes me laugh and cry (a girly reaction) at the same time.
Rewinding back, I think no one is doubtful about the intention that led to feminism. Women craved equality, the right to think for themselves and make decisions just like men. Feminism wasn’t built to surpass nor belittle men which is why the emasculation of men in the name of feminism is heart-breaking. Being equal to men is no longer enough, men have to throw in the towel and boys must conform by “getting in touch with their feminine side”. Their instinctive nature to lead, protect, provide, carry the load, be territorial (possessive/ jealous), appreciative of a woman’s body/femininity and willingness to treat a woman like a valued gem is now considered chauvinistic and macho. Misguided feminism only wants metrosexual men and sissies. What a sad and unbalanced new order, if you ask me.
Condemning masculinity and the male nature wasn’t enough for misguided feminism, the next stop was to make them a threat. Hollaback! And #YesAllWomen make all boys and men seem like potential terrorizers of women and society just because they ‘make eye contact’, say ‘hello’ without permission or merely because they have penises. In 2001, Doris Lessing, novelist and feminist icon, made a shocking assessment of an incident she witnessed while visiting a classroom. She told the Edinburgh Book Festival, "I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men. You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives." Toxic feminism has generalised the actions of a few bad seeds and sold it to girls and women-who don’t know better- as the truth. The distorted image these females develop when it comes to menfolk is the lesser evil compared to the disowning and disgust these boys will grow to have for their gender and its ‘destructive nature’.
The more I fall in love with feminism the more I see the ugliness misguided feminism has created. When we say ‘feminism’ basically we are talking about femininity which is why feminists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can proudly declare “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and for my femininity and I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be”. I undoubtedly support the notion but what I stand against is the use of feminism as an instrument to condemn men who equally believe the same applies to their gender. Imagine the headline if a man comes out and says “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my maleness and for my masculinity and I want to be respected in all of my maleness because I deserve to be”.
“Here are young women with more opportunities, more liberties than almost any women in history and at that moment we tell them they’re short-changed silenced victims of a patriarchy? It’s defeatist and demoralising.”- Christina Hoff Sommers
The last straw for me when it comes to misguided feminists, is their opinion that a woman somehow isn’t complete nor is a feminist if she embraces traditional female roles. This is a direct contradiction of my earlier point. The movement says embrace being girly, your womanly curves, being a mother and wife but at the same time, it says all those roles are not enough unless you are professionally driven. This purely means that there is something wrong with being a woman in the first place. That being a devoted mother and housemaker makes you any less valuable or noteworthy as a woman who spends 8 hours at her job. That women have to take up the attributes that make men ‘men’ thereby rendering men virtually useless.
Let’s be clear “I, Halima-Sadiya Bello Husseini, am a feminist and I love men who embrace their nature and stay true to it”. I stand for equality and EQUITY of the genders- as well as every other demography-and the yin-yang complimentary nature of the sexes. As a feminist I long for the day when both men and women can rise shoulder to shoulder without limitations and neither one holding the other down. Patriarchy has not been fair and matriarchy or an Amazonian future will not be either.