People when they encounter a person to know their beliefs and their philosophies, they by default think the person is only trying to align with some beliefs and philosophies, and what they are doing around the beliefs and philosophies would never mean more than the fact that they are alien to them. Not so many people understand that some beliefs aren’t what you sleep one night and align with the next morning. Not so many people understand that some philosophies are not just some products of some schools of thought but life standards blended together over a period of time that’s worth a lifetime; and one of such life standards is feminism.
When even the educated ones ask the feminists some questions to test their feminism, or ask them questions like: “are you sure you are a feminist?” it’s unsettling. Also unsettling how a person who doesn’t even know what feminism really is would be the one saying to a person who sees themself as a feminist “you are not acting like a feminist”. Sometimes, they even go as far as telling you what they think feminism should be like and how you are doing it wrongly. When I find a feminist being told these, I just put myself in their situation and imagine myself doing what I would do—skip the discussion or keep mute to it absolutely! Because any response a person makes to any question or statement made by someone perceived to not know much about feminism but yet questioning a feminist on how much of a feminist they are or not is most likely to lead to baseless arguments. How many people do you explain to that you being a feminist is not you “just trying to align with some belief or philosophy”? How many people do you have to educate that feminists don’t have to “act” like feminists; they live feminism? Feminism is a lifestyle, not just some belief, not just some philosophy or sort as the formal education has named it and made it look.
How you perceive the female gender today, how you view female oppression today, they are all based on your life experiences, and your life experiences make who you are. So you do not need any philosophy to make you a feminist, you do not even necessarily need a formal education on it to make you one; it’s just your lifestyle. You want to make sure (every time you can) that the female gender is not demeaned anyhow. How many people would a feminist have to explain this to for them to stop asking them (the feminist) sarcastic questions? That’s the problem with being a feminist; and it even gets worse being a male feminist or a male that’s only a friend to feminism and not a feminist so to say.
I am not a feminist per se, but I’m not against most of the things feminism stands for, and I make sure my arts reflect some ideas of feminism as much as I could make them. I believe this makes me a little bit of a romancer of feminism, and even as that, if I decide to add my personal challenges to this write-up, I would have no space left to write other things; that’s how much they are. I’ll just have to tell one or two of my challenges just to set some records straight. I have been challenged of my friendship with feminism even by people who know absolutely nothing about feminism, and by the people who have but only the most lay-person’s understanding of what feminism is about. These people would even pick a particular aspect of your relationship with the females and use it to counter your stance with feminism—I find myself a victim of this all the time. I’ve heard people say these to feminists: “you are quarreling with a female, you a not a feminist”, “you didn’t help the lady out, you are not a feminist”, “you broke-up with the girl; you are not a feminist”. I’ve also been challenged on things I have written about feminism and how I take a stance with some of their agitations.
People will always go saying lots and lots of faulty things about being a feminists; but how many of these people can we sit down and help cure their ignorance and misunderstanding of feminism? We can only look when they talk and let them “win”; why? Because you do not need to explain your beliefs about the female gender to anyone so they’ll be convinced you really do not like the gender being oppressed. You do not even need to introduce yourself as a feminist or a friend of feminism to anyone who wouldn’t understand what it really means to be one. If they knew what feminism is really, they’d sense it all over you, in everything you do, and in everything you say.
That a person challenges your feminism (because you are a male and shouldn’t be a feminist or a friend of feminism) is not much of an ache; the main ache is when the challenger of your feminism is a female; one who doesn’t even know her own rights as a female, a female who oppresses herself even before her oppressor oppresses her at all, a female who urges the other gender to oppress her so she’d feel like a female—it’s depressing. Maybe I’m writing the minds of many (male) feminists out there, maybe this is just me pouring out my personal pains I get for being a friend of feminism, and also a male; I don’t know for sure, but I know someone out there can relate to all I just lamented on.
Let’s take some time to untwist some things some people have gotten twisted about feminism; because I’m a friend of feminism does not necessarily mean I cannot scold a female when she offends me, it does not mean I cannot quarrel with a female when the situation warrants, it does not mean my romantic relationship with a female cannot go bad, it does not mean I have to let the female win all the time, it does not mean I cannot break-up with a girlfriend, it does not mean I cannot rebuke a female when she crosses my lines: it only means I can never be among the ones who do unfair things to the gender. It will only mean I will never be cool or silent with it should I ever find anyone—male or female—treating any member of the female gender unfairly. That’s the basic obligation for being a feminist—I believe. But unfortunately not many people (even from the female gender) know this.
No self-aggradation intended, and I do not mean to create any impression here; but people who have seen me react to female oppression, and people I have had some quarrels with because of some unfair things they said or did to a female know how seriously I take my position with feminism. I do not expect appraisals for doing that, and I do not expect any form of recognition for being that way; like I said, it’s a life I/we have to live, it’s like finding yourself in a marriage you cannot leave—even if you so want to. But at least, can the (male) feminists and the friends of feminism have lesser blind criticisms and unfair judgments form people who know but close to nothing about feminism?
Olusegun Peters is a businessman, an investor and a scholar. He is passionate about contributing his knowledge to impacting as many people as possible one person at a time. Read more about Olusegun Peters here