Feminism is a philosophical subject and it is therefore difficult to grasp. Many people identify themselves as feminists but their belief of what feminism is also varies. This is not to say that any of them is wrong. There are different kinds of feminism and they are:
Equality is the axis on which liberal feminism revolves. Liberal feminism advocates for new laws and adoption of policies which promote equality. Every individual female, in liberal feminism matters, and thus, every woman must be an equal of their male counterparts in society. The measure of progress for a liberal feminist is mostly determined by the number of females in positions previously occupied by men. The two-thirds gender rule in the government of Kenya, for example, is meant to facilitate liberal feminism.
Socialist feminism looks not at an individual woman, but at women as a whole. Sometimes, socialist feminism is known as Marxist feminism because of its tendency to lean to Marxist ideals. Actually, under socialist feminism, it is emphasized that true equality of women and men cannot be achieved there are no economic changes. It is argued that the fundamental inequalities within the capitalist society do not facilitate the rise of women to powerful positions. As such, socialist feminism advocates for collective empowerment of women for social change.
Every movement must have the radicals. Under radical feminism, it is emphasized that drastic social change must happen if equality for women with men is to be achieved.
Radical feminism emphasizes the need for dramatic social change in order for women to achieve equality with men. Under radical feminism, it is said that society is extremely patriarchal and that is said to be the reason why women are subjected to unjust treatment in society. The idea of a patriarchy society is also strongly rejected and all laws, policies, standards, cultural norms and moral values must move to rectify the unfairness perpetuated by our patriarch society.
Third Wave Feminism
It follows that if there is third wave feminism, there is second wave feminism and first wave feminism. However, the latter two are not often talked about in this regard. The first wave feminists are the first proponents of feminism. They advocated for equality of women with men, especially on granting women the right to vote. Second wave feminists went further than that: they fought for social equality and demanded equal pay for work done, reproductive health rights, and more. Third wave feminists are the children of feminist of the second wave feminists of the 1970s. Third wave feminists are almost similar to liberal feminists. They believe in individual female empowerment and do not reject political activism as a means to achieving equality for women.
This is a combination of feminism and environmentalism. Parallels are often drawn here under between the exploitation of women and the environment.
Black feminism grew out of the Women Liberation Movement in the 1970s which was led by African American women who felt that their needs as minority women were not being met by their society and government. Black feminism emphasizes that that sexism and racism are related and that sexism cannot be overcome while racism thrives.
Why men should be feminists
Feminism has come a long way. More women are now financially independent. A woman no longer needs a husband to own a business or acquire property.
While there are still inequalities women suffer like unequal pay, and suppression of reproductive rights, we can only hope that they will be remedied soon by legislation and policies that foster those rights.
However, there is oppression against women which has nothing to do with laws and policies – the oppression perpetuated against women by our mindsets, and valuable religious and cultural norms. These norms affect our mindset, and we use these norms to develop stereotypes against women. For example, our cultures and religions often dictate what women or men should do and what they shouldn’t do.
Norms about what femininity or masculinity is affect young people as they grow up and it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. Men are naturally put on pressure to confirm to the masculinity expected of them by society: they must never cry, they must pay the bills, they must be in charge. This creates a lot of egoistic men who are easily wounded, men who are threatened by the presence and success of the women around them. Girls are raised not to speak their minds, to know their place (the kitchen), to grow into child bearing people and never to demand for answers from their male counterparts. As such, they learn to keep their ideas to themselves, and to never say a word even when they know a possible solution.
But what if we raised children, male and female, and encouraged them to be themselves? What if that little girl who likes big cars was encouraged in her liking of big cars? What if that young man who enjoys cooking was encouraged in his liking of everything culinary? What if that child was encouraged to speak their mind, to question where they don’t understand? What if that boy was told that paying bills is not necessarily a man thing? – We would undoubtedly have lesser male juveniles in our remand homes, those whose crime is petty thievery (you would be surprised, they were stealing to have some money to make them feel manly). But what is femininity? What is masculinity? Don’t those qualities differ from woman to woman and man to man? Why not let every person define who they are and what their femininity or masculinity is all about?
The stereotypes about what men or women do and shouldn’t do affect us all. They constitute sexism – prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of sex. Though women are the easy target, men are silent victims of sexism too. They most suffer from the effects of toxic masculinity, the kind which says that men should not express their feelings, men must not cry and that they should not listen to Nyanshinski’s Malaika or Adele’s music. One wonders what the basis of such assertions is. So, men must also demand equality of all sexes and the only platform that does that is feminism.
It should also make everyone angry that some cultures find it acceptable that women should be looked down upon and even abused. What world is this?! All men should say not to this kind of practice and it can be done by demanding respect and equality of women. – By being feminists.
Imagine our governments and work places had the best people in whatever position… Imagine how excellent our governments or work places would be! There are positions which are said to be men’s jobs and no woman in any work place or government has ever held such positions. Surely all men and women must want better governments, and better work places. If women were given an equal shot as their male counterparts, so that we have the best people in any position, then our governments and work places would be better.
Feminism fights all forms of oppression: discrimination of women, racism, and even environmental degradation. Men must therefore champion the equality of women in all spheres, because feminism is not a women’s issue, alone. In talking about feminism, we must also remember that all that women are asking for is equality, not special treatment. I know affirmative action looks like special treatment but the relevance of affirmative action is to remedy the ills perpetuated by history. And of course, affirmative action is only for a while.
Boys must not be told that they are superior to girls. Girls must not be told that they are inferior to boys. This must be done from the core. We can for example encourage parent to buy children gender neutral toys so that they choose their inclination with no bias. Also, for the sake of the future of the world, we must advocate for equality of all sexes. We want our daughters, nieces and little sisters to be freed from the chains of a patriarch society, to grow and rise beyond what they would have been in our time. It all starts with us today, men and women, to lay the ground for their flourishing, in future.
Corporations must treat women and men equally, especially by giving equal pay for equal work to both men and women. Men and women must be treated the equally, with the human dignity they all deserve.
Moving forward, it must be emphasized that stereotypes about gender affect the potential of growing men and women. Men must not be praised for being full time dads. Women must not be castigated for propelling their careers. If the world is to rise above social prejudices, all genders must get involved in the fight for the right thing, equality.
Every man is any of the following: a spouse, a partner, a husband, a brother, a son, a boyfriend. Every man must fight sexism against the women in his life. Every man, in support of the women in their lives, must advocate for equality of all sexes, and must therefore be a feminist.
Join the feminist movement today and change the world, for the better.
BY SAMALI BITALA
This article appears in our digital law newsletter, The Deuteronomy Vol 6, Issue 5 of June 30th, 2017
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