Excuse me sisters, would you hold on a moment. If you would allow me just a minute, I wish to tell you about the gospel of “real feminism.”
In the beginning some men (not all men) got together and decided to fix feminism. They saw there was clearly a problem and came up with definitions and priorities for feminists to adopt. They even suggested legitimate mediums “serious feminists” should use (not twitter). When they were done, they looked upon their work and they were pleased. They called it, real feminism. This is how our gospel was born.
Unable to contain their excitement they brought their creation to other feminists but they were often rejected. Prophets are after all not welcomed in their own homes (or even the homes they move into uninvited and try to renovate). And so it was decided that the old feminists were heretics and heathens to the cause. They were given many names to mark them; new feminists, twitter feminists, militant feminists, lazy feminists and so on. The prefix did not really matter so long as one remembered to include a dismissive tone when they said it (for example, Beyoncé feminists.)
The old feminists accused our prophets of being anti feminist. Our prophets laughed (intellectually) and said, “No. We have no problem with feminism. Look at the feminism there, we like that. And feminism in the past, it was serious, we loved that. This feminism of yours is the problem.”
“So the feminism that’s here and now, the one in spaces that you occupy…that one’s a problem?” Asked the feminists (bitterly).
“No no no…we don’t mind feminism. It just has to be real feminism. You know, the real one.”
“It seems to us,” said the feminists (emotionally), “that the further feminism is from affecting you, the more likely it is to be ‘real feminism’.”
“That is not it at all.”
And that is how the first great debate of feminism was won.
The old feminists went away more bitter, more man-hating and pretending even more to know where Ukraine was on the map. Unfortunately, their rebellion would not end there. Say what you will about them but they were a tenacious lot. They would not be gone for long. They popped up again as the prophets spoke the truth of how old feminists did nothing for men, the boy child and their issues.
“But we do! All the time,” interjected the old feminists (rudely).
“We do! And even if we didn’t…why don’t you do it? Why don’t men come together and try help each other instead of spending all their time attacking us?”
“Go back to the kitchen!”
“Right…When in doubt- misogyny.”
“Listen to them,” said the Prophets, “so emotional. It was JUST a joke. Calm down.”
“You know why you don’t know what we do? Because YOU don’t pay attention to those issues. If you care for men’s issues so much why do you never talk about them? Why is it that the only context you discuss them in is as a weapon to wield against feminists?”
“Coz” they said.
And thus the second great debate of feminism was won.
On it went. The “real feminist” proponents showed the old feminists all the things they weren’t doing. The old feminist claimed to have done them by presenting evidence among other underhanded sneaky tactics. The proponents told them the flaws of old feminism schools of thought and the old feminists asked if they had even bothered to read or research those works as if this had anything to do with it.
And somewhere along this path the old feminists for whatever reason, started to get angry. By doing so what the prophets had been saying was proved true, old feminism just made women unreasonable which was bad for everyone.
This is the foundation of our church. It is true sisters, you must embrace feminism, no one is saying otherwise. But it must be real feminism. You can’t just go and be a feminist, it is a process. There are rules and directions and you have to listen to the people who know things. I know it seems weird and counter-intuitive that men should be telling women about the female experience and such but hey…man is the head of the family, even the global family. And where do ideas come from? Yeah. Exactly. The head. Sticking to outdated feminism has already brought so much grief. It destroyed our morals, it destroyed the family unit and remember all those times it destroyed society? I’m sure you read about it in papers and blogs everywhere.
Sisters, the brotherhood of real feminism is here for you. Do not be scared of us. We want the same thing as you, equality in all things, even feminism. All we suggest is a just division of labour. You can be the feminists and we will tell you how to do it. It’s only fair.
Mirrors are actually one of my favourite things. No philosophical reason behind this, I simply like how my face looks. I love the way my skin glows softly. I like how my eyes slant ever so slightly. Even the beauty spot on my collar bone is looked at adoringly. I know I am pretty and I enjoy that fact. I spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding what colour of lipstick complements my complexion. When I am going out somewhere, I take the extra effort to look my best and on such days, the amount of selfies I will take is dangerously close to infinity. Simply put, I love my face.
Don’t get me wrong. I may be vain but I am not foolish enough to assume that the best thing about a person should be based on how they look. If one day I was stripped of my looks, you know what would happen to me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Without my looks, I am still me. I still have a brilliant sense of humour, I am eloquent and I am intelligent. I do my best to treat others with respect and I make an effort to be open-minded. My looks do not determine my character, my outward appearance is not a determinant of the kind of person I am aiming to be.
When I read this, I finally saw in the simplest way, the thoughts I had been formulating on beauty. I know people who are gorgeous and others who are plain. Some have extra beautiful features and others aren’t conventionally beautiful. Some have body shapes that deserve to grace the catwalks and others have bodies that are going through life. Now, should we as a society sit around and figure out a way to compliment people on their looks so that they can feel worthy of being who they are? Should we tell someone that despite the fact that they are making an effort in school or with volunteer work or with their friends that at least they have nice eyes? Should we tell someone, that the only time anything will matter about them, is when their looks will redeem them? If I may ask, if a person is ugly does it matter? If a person is fat, does it matter?
Pause. Take a minute and ask yourself, should a person’s looks matter this much?
I do not deny the fact that when I see a pretty person I will be awed. I will appreciate and think “Wow”. However, I won’t go out of my way to befriend or value this person more because of how they look. If a person is ugly, I will notice but I won’t think, “Damn it, I cannot be bothered with this person. Look at them, they must be horrible”
Moreover, we always look at people and insist on comforting them about their looks.
“One day, someone will love your face….one day, someone will hold you and they will look past your big nose and love you”
Ok, you know what this person is saying. That people need to forgive you for your looks in order to love you. Someone should sit down and redeem your looks with their love. Do you seeing the utter ridiculousness of this? Why should someone need to do this?
Why can’t you say “My goodness, someone is going to love your cooking or I envy the person who gets you, you are so funny”
I know what you are going to say, that people are attracted to what they see. However, I am not talking about immediate attraction. I am talking about love and respect. Things that take long to be formed, things that grow with time. These things can come about based on who you are and not how you look. And if someone only loves you or respects you based on how you look, you are not the problem. They are.
Society has forced upon us unnecessary standards of beauty that very few people can live by. We look at each other and dissect ourselves on an unwritten universal rule book as if we are toys in a factory. So, why don’t we try to be better? Why don’t we shed these standards and start appreciating each other for our experiences, for our contributions, for the memories we create and maybe when we start making it a habit, people would realise that they are so much more than their looks. And with that we may come up with a society that is based on character rather than looks.
Let us start giving compliments that matter. Tell someone you love how they remember minute details about people. Tell your friends you like it when they laugh at their own jokes. Tell that random classmate that you think it is absolutely brilliant the way they make an effort in school. Let us figure out ways to show people that they don’t need a pretty body feature or the perfect waist to matter. Let us stop placating each other with our looks and start raising each other up based on our characters.
As the prose aptly put:
“What’s beautiful is that you can make anything happen. Stop being beautiful. Get ugly. Go be alive”
Oyunga Pala recently published an article entitled “Why I Am Afraid of Female Bigots”. In it he talks about how he was a panelist at the Future of Men discussion panel and how the men there were vilified by the women and pushed into a corner when they voiced their opinion about the issues that were being discussed. He also discussed how certain men’s issues were being pushed out of discussions and that we should address them more often instead of always focusing on the bad things men do.
I was at the Future of Men, in the second row. I sat there and I listened to all the comments that were made, at least for the first hour then I walked out in protest. I’ve written about it before, and I am going to write about it again. When I read this article it pissed me off to high heaven and I felt that just tweeting about it angrily was not going to help very many people so I decided to dissect the entire article and explain just WHY I was so mad. Because Oyunga Pala did not say anything new, he simply jumbled up several YouTube comments and stringed them into a deceivingly eloquent mess. I’m going to pick up key sentences from his article and break them down into what they really mean.
It soon got confrontational and any man who so much as dared to speak his mind (be politically incorrect) was shouted down.
Oh yes, the talk at Future of Men did get confrontational. The men who did become politically incorrect were shouted down. What Oyunga Pala fails to mention is WHAT EXACTLY made women so confrontational. Maybe it was Tony Mochama (a man), famous author who is currently under investigation for allegedly assaulting a woman, saying that women should be beaten if they decide to get too vocal. Maybe it was the fellow (a word for man) in the back who questioned why there were so many women present when this was a talk for men. Or the (same) guy who denied there even being a problem in the society. Maybe it was the dude who said that women shouldn’t dress a certain way and expect not to be treated how they dress. I mean if you sit in a room where ludicrous comments like these are being thrown at you, are you going to sit there quietly?
Do you want a free pass to be politically incorrect? Do you really know what entails political correctness? Why would you want to be on the wrong side? Are male thoughts synonymous with political incorrectness? Is that the normal way in which a male mind functions? Please explain because as a woman I may not understand this.
Now in case you didn’t know, political correctness is the attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society believed to have a disadvantage. As human knowledge progresses our language changes in order to reflect our understanding of what is appropriate to say. Now you may not owe the world an explanation for everything you do say, nor do you have to change everything about yourself so that you can accommodate everyone; that’s impossible. You’re not here to please everybody. HOWEVER making the decision not to promote language that harms a large group of people (and clearly as he said, we were more than the men present, so I’m not lying) is not that hard. The way we talk to and about people is a reflection of who we are. So if you want to be rude and insulting to women, you better expect someone to get confrontational and shout you down.
For as long as women feel unsafe and aggrieved, ALL MEN are to blame and any man who doesn’t express open solidarity with women is a sexist. Therefore in order to avoid an argument, most men withheld their opinion and left the forum feeling vilified, attacked and guilt ridden.
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. It is a system that puts a gender at a disadvantage while raising another. This is a system in which ALL men benefit from. It is because of this that women hold men accountable when they are speaking up against sexism. Not all men are responsible for all the horrible things that happen to women however some are. Women are not harming themselves; they are not being harassed by imaginary creatures or being raped by wood nymphs. It is men who are responsible for these acts.
I can see through your self-flagellatory tactics though, where someone has to jump up and pat you on the back and tell you “not all men are sexist! I can’t believe they would say something like that about everyone in the room! Poor baby, have a cookie.” It’s a childish tactic, comparable to a kid who throws himself on the ground in order to appear injured. You’re not fooling anyone, what you’re doing is refusing to take responsibility for your male privilege.
It’s not your fault you were born a man. There is nothing you can do to eliminate your privilege, not unless you have a magic wand that will crush the patriarchy in one wave (and if so why haven’t you?) What you can do is accept that you benefit from a sexist society because the odds are most likely always in your favour. Instead of wailing like a prepubescent toddler about how mean women were to you, you could take stock of your privilege and try to offset the imbalance of power. If you were actually aware of your male privilege, you would be helping stop the perpetuation of misogynistic beliefs, but instead you want to try to pose as the victim.
Men feel the need to be apologetic and adopt a change of behaviour in order to maintain decorum to suit women’s expectations.
Oh really? What exactly is the problem in maintaining decorum?
Men SHOULD be apologetic. They should at least note that they are in a more advantageous position and just by simply existing they get to experience certain privileges that women don’t get to. When you are in a privileged position, you shouldn’t be an ass to the people in positions lower than you. That’s not a very nice thing to do. I figure the idea of losing your privilege must be so terrifying and I empathize. However if you don’t believe men, yes, each and every one of them, HAVE to adopt a change of behaviour (and not for women, but for societal and cultural progress) you’re drunk off your privilege. Must be nice, eh?
The first step to avoiding confrontation in this contemporary reality is policing one’s speech lest you get accused of being sexist and disrespectful to women.
Yes. Very good. You should have put your pen down at this point.
In many professions, this is about as a big a blot on one’s reputation as being called a racist in a US presidential contest.
But instead you choose to continue. Hmm. Okay.
A man being called a sexist has almost no effect on his life. Hell, even assault and rape accusations do nothing. In this patriarchal system anything you do to a woman, can be swept under the rug. Look at Tony Mochama’s sexual harassment case. Whether or not the allegations are true, he has not lost his job, his books are still being sold, he is doing just fine. In fact, Tony Mochama was defended by hundreds of men even before he responded to the accusation while Shailja Patel was subjected to online abuse, trolling and insults. Her character and the character of the woman who initially reported the story, Dr Wambui Mwangi were dissected and their lives put up for public scrutiny, instead of the life of the person who was accused of the crime. In the case of rape accusations, Senator Wamatangi was accused of raping his househelp, he’s still a senator, still going about his daily business. If these examples aren’t sufficient enough, let’s look to Hollywood. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, Kobe Bryant, all these men have been accused of rape, I don’t see anything wrong with their careers. They are not crying in a ditch somewhere, victims of their actions, they’re still making money comfortably.
I’m so glad you decided to bring up the parallels between sexism and racism. So so glad. Sexism and racism are equal in the fact that they limit one group while simultaneously raising another’s status. Men benefit from sexism the way white people benefit from racism. Both deny the privileges of one while oppressing others. When it’s a discourse on racism, we’re ALL oppressed because as Africans, male or female, we are at the bottom of the structural pyramid, united by descent and race. When it comes to sexism though, it’s no longer a problem. Now, you may not see sexism as being as bad as racism because sexism benefits men, so it’s okay for them to perpetuate it. If you look at it objectively you’ll see that the same silencing tactics white people use (not all white people!) are the same ones men use when silencing discourses on sexism.
Men are often labelled beneficiaries of a patriarchal system that accords them privilege over women and children on the sole basis of their genitalia. Yet what is often not mentioned in the same breath is that patriarchy is a system perpetuated by both sexes. They are several women who milk the privilege of a male based support system.
Men ARE beneficiaries of a patriarchal system. It’s not a label, it’s the truth. And it is true that women also perpetuate it. However in the case of men, they perpetuate patriarchy because it benefits them because what is patriarchy, other than the systematic order in which MEN hold primary power and everyone else is excluded. Therefore the women who perpetuate patriarchy do not do it because they are ‘privileged’ but because they are being complicit and it may have some (debatable) advantages. For you to suggest this is to suggest that the beggar eating the breadcrumbs you dropped on the table is eating a balanced diet. The male based support system is a product of patriarchy, because women statistically make less than men, are instantly questioned when they get higher positions at work (did she sleep with him?) and are shunned from careers that are male dominated. The safest option is to rely on men, because patriarchy makes it hard to rely on yourself.
And what exactly is this definition of “female privilege”?
The role of father for example is being rendered obsolete because it is something that can be stripped away by a woman at any time. A woman can have a child without male consent, deny a man access to his child and make him disposal. Father’s day for instance is now a tramping ground for women who feel they deserve accolades for single parentage.
WITHOUT MALE CONSENT? Because everything that must be done in this world must undergo the watchful observation of a man? If a man says yes to something in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does the thing still happen? Women can function without male consent, it is possible.
It reached a critical point in our society that women had to log onto Facebook, join a group and publicly expose men for failing to support their children in order for it to be addressed. Now before you go off the obviously derailing tangent off NOT ALL DEAD BEAT DADS (ooooh wait there’s already an article like that on your website) let’s focus on the matter at hand. Women who FEEL THEY DESERVE accolades for single parentage? Are you aware of the negative attitudes that follow single mothers?
No? Alright, lets Google.
When the internet alone has such horrible suggestions for your existence, you DESERVE an accolade simply for waking up in the morning and facing a world that has been conditioned to hate you.
We have created a unique problem that constitutes a generation of men who do want to be labelled sexist like their fathers were, thriving on female subordination.
How is this a problem?
Anyway, if you don’t want to be labelled sexist, DON’T DO SEXIST THINGS. DON’T PERPETUATE SEXISM. DON’T THRIVE UNDER FEMALE SUBORDINATION. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. It’s that fucking simple.
In essence most men are feminist. They advocate for the rights of women for the simple reason that they owe their growth and development to female intervention and have daughters to raise.
NO. Most men are not feminist. First of all how could they be, when feminists seek to push men out of their comfort zones? There are so many negative attitudes that surround that term. Its normally associated with angry women who apparently hate men. They call us man haters, militant lesbians, misandrists, reverse sexists, FEMALE BIGOTS.
How are you a feminist when your entire article is based on calling us bigoted? It is a tactic of the oppressor to force harmful definitions onto subversive movements. It derails all forms of discourse because in this case, you have forced me, a feminist, to go into the defensive. Instead of moving forward and having useful conversations about what we can do to stop the perpetuation of patriarchy, I have to explain that we are not bigoted and how harmful that description is.
You can’t be a feminist if you define it using the patriarchal standards it rejects.The simple reason you think men support feminism is based on contextual empathy. That the only reason they care about women is because they were raised by them? So what about those not raised around women, do they get a free pass? Why do women’s rights only take center stage in someone’s life because their relatives just happen to be female? That’s… a problem. Its selective and isn’t true. Either you’re fighting for all women or you’re not. There’s no middle ground.
While we acknowledge that the fight for the rights of women is absolutely essential, it is not a license to lash out at men in this recycled narrative of collective blame.
It is a recycled narrative because nothing seems to be changing, or if it is, its not changing fast enough. Besides who are we going to blame? The wood nymphs from before?
Your first reaction to the demand for change is defensiveness. That’s the biggest impediment to progress. Nobody wants to believe they’re the problem. But you being told to do better is not bigotry! You HAVE to do better because you are in the position of privilege. Calling women bigoted is as mature as a student cussing out his lecturer because they were told to redo their bad assignment.
If you REALLY believe that the fight for our rights is essential, then a few harsh words shouldn’t make it less worthy your attention. Our tone of voice shouldn’t deter you from it. The idea that feminists should speak in a nice tone is nonsensical. You only want us to speak in softer tones because we’re easier to ignore that way. Spare me the idea that we should be palatable to suit your feelings. Are you saying that you were about to care about vast inconsistencies in the treatment of women but because someone was mean you won’t? Empowerment is not candy that you hand out to the best behaved women in the classroom. Get that very clear.
Unless we tell the other side of the story, of men rewriting the masculinity script, who take care of business, secure their homes, remain present in their children’s lives and are supportive partners, we shall continue to normalize bigotry against men for no other reason than their biologically assigned genitalia.
Oyunga Pala, you have consistently run a column entitled MAN TALK for several years, in which you have had an opportunity to do this. Again, I reiterate, for SEVERAL YEARS. You have had the platform to do this for ages and if you squandered it to write other things then that’s YOUR fault. And anyway let’s say you were a simple man with no platform or social influence, you would simply have to put on the television or pick up a paper to see your side of the story. The patriarchal world is a male centered one, never forget that. Everything, from politics to business to even professional cooking, is male dominated.
Do you REALLY want to talk about normalized bigotry for NO REASON other than biologically assigned genitalia? Have you ever heard women complaining about sexual assault? Street harassment? Rape? Have you heard of women being denied positions simply because of their gender? Have you not seen the sexualisation of breast cancer simply because it’s a cancer that starts in the breasts? SAVE THE BOOBIES? Are you not familiar with rape culture?! SHUT UP AND THINK AGAIN, before you talk about “normalized bigotry because of assigned genitalia.” This is what WE face every day as women.
Below all this there was a weirdly placed section on the plight of short men that I didn’t fully understand because it kind of just came from nowhere. BUT I have a few points.
Joshua Sang isn’t overlooked because he’s short, he’s overlooked because not many people have heard of him and not very many people are that interested in looking him up. His diminutive stature is just his most defining feature. Is that problematic, yeah sure, but it’s not a male crisis. Yes, your dating options may be limited when you’re short but so what? Everyone has arbitrary physical standards; if women don’t want to date short men you’re not going to force them to. Don’t pretend that men don’t have harmful standards that hurt women. That’s the entire basis of the cosmetics industry!
Now, before I start, I feel I should say that I’m not necessarily opposed to celebrity news/gossip sites. It’s not my cup of tea but a lot of people are clearly interested in what they do. There is a market for it and they have moved in to take advantage of that. Good on them. That’s not something I have a problem with. What I want to talk about is how some of them do it.
This is not going to be one of those articles where I tip toe around who I’m talking about. While they are certainly not the only guilty ones, I’m going to be focusing on Ghafla. They’re one of the most popular and if it has to start with somebody it should probably be them.
Over the past few days, there’s been talk about the whole Tony Mochama incident. In case you’ve somehow missed it, here’s a quick summary. Tony Mochama (aka Smitta) is being accused of sexual assault. The general accepted version of the accusation is that he was at a fellow poet’s house, he committed the assault on her friend and that there are a few witnesses. He has since denied any wrong doing.
Now, whether you believe this or not, I think you should see the problem with Ghafla’s headline.
“RAPE!! Standard Group’s TONY MOCHAMA Accused! Here Is The Story!”
There’s no other way to put it, this is misinformation, plain and simple. They are unashamedly being sensationalist for the sole purpose of getting views. You can see this from how the actual article is phrased. It is, more or less, accurate…if you’re already aware of what’s going on. But if you’re not then you will come away with a twisted version of what is actually being said. I’ve already seen people on twitter peddling this ‘Ghafla’ version. By selling the story like this they’re making it easier for Mochama to deny the charges and harder for people to believe it.
I have already seen someone say “you’re telling me she was raped as everyone watched? Yeah right.”
Ghafla is a popular platform where a lot of people get their information. I don’t think that should be the case but it is. And as such they have a responsibility not to pull stunts like this. They do not get to stir things up so they can get hits. This situation is not theirs to manipulate for click bait!
Look at this headline.
“I DID NOT RAPE A WOMAN IN WAMBUI’s HOUSE”!! Standard Group’s TONY MOCHAMA (Smitta Smitten) Responds!”
This is one thing we can say for certain that Tony Mochama has not done. He did not say those words. The only ones actually pushing a rape narrative are Ghafla. No one accused it. No one denied it (because it was never leveled.) We are talking about a sexual assault. Yet, here is Ghafla shaping their own version of a story that will cause more people to visit their site. How fundamentally sick is that?
Listen up Ghafla team. Maybe you believe he is (or could be) guilty in which case you are derailing the conversation and making life harder for everyone else who does. Or you think he is (or could be) innocent, but then you are just fanning the flames by raising the charge. Most likely, I think you don’t care either way. You are literally just causing damage because it helps you meet your quota. STOP IT!
Here’s a few things you need to start working on.
One. You need to reevaluate how you view women.
Two. You need to stop trafficking in human misery.
Three. If you are already doing one and two then you need to get to a place where no one has to tell you why a tweet like this is wrong.
“Sexy Photos Of Natalie Tewa Who Was In The Accident With Wangechi the Rapper!! Must See!!”
The movies were wrong. The alien invasion did not come in spaceships. It did not come with beams in the sky or crop circles in the fields. We did not even even see it coming. The invasion came and went, we were occupied and we did not even know it.
You’re skeptical. I understand, but look around. There’s a chance that the invaders are with you or near you right now. The species that wants to destroy everything you know and bring all of us down. You’ve no doubt heard of them. They go by the name…. feminists.
We have all heard many things about these feminists. Disturbing things. Unsettling things. Things that spring from the same well that inspired Dante’s Inferno. But I wanted the truth. I wanted to know what it is that they truly want. So I decided I was going to meet one. Against the advice of those wiser than me, I braved the danger and agreed to interview a feminist.
One of the things I have heard about these feminists is that once they fully posses a woman they do not shave their legs. Hair grows wildly covering them from knee to ankle in a wild mane. It is a strange phenomenon. It reminds me of the Arabic story where King Solomon meets the Queen of Sheba. His advisers warn him that he should not trust her for her legs are covered in hair like a goat. Solomon, in his general all-knowing fashion, tricks her into revealing her legs and confirms these rumors. This tells us that the feminists have been around for a long time. And, more disturbing still, that even the wisest man in the world feared them. This will not be an easy interview.
The feminist arrives and there are oddities. For one, she is smiling. This is odd because feminists do not smile. Their faces are permanently scowling. The bitterness of their hate for men, sex and children, and by extension their hate for happiness, is never far. It occurs to me that a smiling feminist is a dangerous thing. What would make a feminist smile? Will I leave this place alive? Will this be my tomb, a burning bra flying high above it to celebrate (another?) feminist kill?
“Hello,” she says cheerfully.
There is no sign of her man hate or innate bitterness. It is almost as if these things do not exist. I can now see how so many feminists have made it in the media. They are excellent actors.
“So,” I say carefully, “what is a feminist?”
“THAT,” she says a little too loudly (as is to be expected), “is a complicated question.”
“A feminist is a lot of things. We don’t all believe the same ideas and we don’t all agree on how to express them. But at it’s simplest, a feminist is someone who believes in political, social and economic equality between the sexes. A feminist is someone who sees the gender divide and the attitudes towards women and wants that to change. Basically, a feminist is someone who is tired of seeing women treated like shit.”
I flinch. A woman using language like that. A feminist indeed.
“I’ve heard this before but…aren’t women equal already?”
“Is that a joke?” she says, her eyes narrowing. There is a hint of menace in her voice. The mask is dropping. “How can you look at this world and possibly even say something like that?”
“Well. Personally I think it’s mostly fixed…”
“Abuse! Rape! Violence! And if you don’t think these are common then how casually they are treated certainly is. People act as if this is the way things ought to be. As if women should not complain about these things. Do you not see how men treat women everywhere?!”
“Look. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Some men are bad. Completely sick in the head, but we must be equal in this. Some women are also bad. So if you think about it, not all…”
“Don’t you dare.”
“Don’t you dare try to say not all men.”
“But it’s true right? Not all men are bad.”
“So fucking what? People just use that as a way to not deal with the conversation. When we’re talking about ways to reduce traffic accidents you don’t hear not all drivers. When we’re talking corruption you’re not going to accept a goddamn ‘not all politicians!’ That is not a conversation that even needs to be had. Enough men act, enough men condone and enough men do nothing for it to be a giant, global problem. The phrase not all men means nothing here. And if you still think it does then never talk about any problem in the world because guess what? Not all fucking human beings!”
I say nothing. It will do no good. Clearly, feminists cannot use logic. We stare at each other for a while no one saying anything. Finally, I ask:
“Why are you feminists always so angry?”
“Because there’s a lot to be angry about.”
“Yes, but what if you filtered your message. Were nicer. If you weren’t always shouting. Don’t you think people would listen more?”
“You think that hasn’t been tried? How do you think feminists get so angry? We tell you over and over but you don’t get it. You really don’t. We shout, we whisper, we’re kind, we’re mean but nothing sticks! Everything you say after shows that you haven’t even thought about it. Not really. And how can that be? Truly, I don’t get it. How can that be?”
“That’s not fair. You’re just doing what you always do. You’re making assumptions. I have thought about it. I know I respect women. I don’t mistreat them but you want me to be the enemy. I’m not. I came from a woman, we all did. Women I respect, it’s feminists I have a problem with.”
“You see? You respect women because you came from one. Or you were raised by a single mother. Or because you have sisters. If you thought about it you’d know that that’s a terrible reason to respect someone. You’re related to some women and that’s where you stopped thinking about it? That’s it. How about because women are human beings?”
“That’s a lot of talk but it’s just over complicating a simple matter. What’s wrong with respecting women because of my mother?”
“When was the last time your major reason for respecting a man was your father?”
“Feminists! Always always overacting. Listen to yourself. Nowadays a man can’t say anything without starting a fight. We cant even compliment a woman without it being a big deal.”
“Is that what you call what happens? Complimenting?”
“Yes. I do.”
“Just compliments. Ha. Tell you what. Next time a gay man cat calls you or gropes you I want to see you take it as a compliment.”
“That….that’s not the same thing!”
“Isn’t it? So it’s not unwanted attention or contact?”
I stare at her appalled. A gay….WHAT!? JESUS! These feminists are mad. Mad mad women.
“Look at you,” she says showing that infamous feminist sneer, “so shocked by just the idea of it. The idea alone! How often does this even happen to anyone? Do you even know anyone it’s happened to? Why does it scare you so much? Are you not just afraid that gay people will treat you how you treat women. Doesn’t that tell you something?”
“If you’re not willing to take this conversation seriously, I have nothing more to say.”
“Running away then?”
“This is why no one likes feminists.”
I walk away on that note unwilling to listen to anything else. I can see that these feminists will be a danger. A grave danger. They are a plague that we cannot countenance. They will destroy our way of life if we let them. They are enemies of men. Even enemies of women. You heard what she said about my mother. And so my brothers and sisters, we must fight them in any way we can. We must not let them take over our women.
If the feminists want something then we must not let them have it. If they fight for something, we must fight against it. Do not bother justifying yourself comrades. You saw how little they value logic. Tell them they are wrong because they are feminist. That is enough. But if you are brave and you think you can convert them, tell them the truth. Tell it to them over and over. Do not let their slick talk fool you. They have tricks to tempt you away from truth. Hold on to it and repeat it. Do not let them win.
Brace yourselves my brothers. Here cometh the feminists.
I chose to tackle this topic this way because, quite honestly, I’m already angry. To write in a completely serious tone would have probably not ended well. The past few days have been one sexist act after another around me. The fact that it’s annoyed me so much and I wasn’t the victim and I’m a man should probably answer all your “why are feminists so angry” inquiries. If I had to actually personally deal with this nonsense i’m not quite sure what I’d do.
With this approach, there is exaggeration (obviously). The entire alien angle is the way people misrepresent feminism and completely refuse to understand it. The stereotypes they hold and the entire “otherness” they ascribe to it all of which I turned up to level 10.
The arguments that follow however are more or less accurate. These are the most common answers given to these issues. Ask any feminist and they will probably tell you how much of this kind of thing they’ve had to deal with and more. Everything in the man’s quotes has been uttered almost word for word on several occasions. It is not the minority view. If anything it seems to be the main narrative.
On that note, I’d like to shout out every woman who has to continually listen to the kind of thing I’ve covered here. Specifically, my co-blogger, Olivia Kidula. Liv is like a feminist super hero. Less superwoman more of The Punisher. She will not put up with your sexist bullshit for even a second. On twitter and in person, God help her victims. There are times she’s been criticized for things I’ve written on feminism. These critics suddenly changed their tune when they found out I wrote it as if the arguments had also changed. It’s alright though, she dealt with them.
Another person that deserves recognition is Samira Ali who inspired the central idea for this post (which puts her post inspiration count on this blog to two. I might have to start paying her). She’s had her share of scraps with people who think working women are scary and other stupid ideas® ( Now available in all Sexist social networking accounts everywhere). She’s a well of brilliant ideas. Seriously, this girl knows her shit.
Follow these people. You’ll be entertained and your TL will be smarter and funnier than it would have been otherwise.
All you women in the movement, keep fighting the good fight.
As for you men, someone please make a Kenyan version of this t-shirt.
[Trigger Warning: This article may be traumatising to victims of rape and sexual assault.]
A girl you know has a reputation for taking a different guy home every time she is at the club. A man who has been watching her decides that if she said yes to the first 20 then his is also implied… When she goes to the police for help they question her about the number of sexual partners she had, what she was wearing, whether she was drunk. They dismiss her case and blame it on her history of being a slut. She goes home dejected and vows not to speak up again. If the case makes it to court, she faces the risk of having her entire sexual history dragged out by the judge and this will add to her humiliation.
A young woman goes to a party with friends. A guy who has fancied her sees this as an opportunity to turn her long standing refusal of his advances into a yes and begins to ply her with alcohol. Eventually, the young woman becomes intoxicated and passes out. The guy, knowing full well she will not remember this in the morning, has sex with her unconscious body. The following day, nobody will scold the boy who intentionally got a girl -who had clearly expressed that she did not want to sleep with him- drunk so that he could take advantage of her, but will question her behaviour and why she wasn’t more responsible. “You should be more careful at parties,” they tell her “don’t you know what happens to girls who hang out with the wrong crowd?”
A male student is in his final year of study. His female lecturer has yet to sign off on one of his courses that will allow him to graduate. His father has put extra pressure on him as he is the first in their family to go to university. This is why he does not tell anyone of the things she makes him do in her office late at night. He knows if he tells his peers they will mock him. This is his mess, he got himself into it, and will do it until she signs off. He has no choice.
This is an example of rape culture – a normalised attitude to the crime of rape that leads to a society where both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death.
In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is unavoidable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”
Still don’t understand?
Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what to wear, how to wear it, how to carry oneself, whom to trust, how much to drink, to learn self-defence, to never let your guard down and failure to adhere to the rules means it’s your fault.
Rape culture is ignoring that the thing about rapists is that they rape people, whether strong or weak, careful or not.
Rape culture is street harassment, it is being groped in public transportation, it is treating women’s bodies like public property.
Rape culture is the narrative that boys can’t be raped, that wives can’t be raped, that sex workers can’t be raped.
Rape culture is rape jokes. No sir, you weren’t JUST JOKING. Rape culture is using the word ‘rape’ casually in conversation. “That exam raped me” That’s rape culture.
Rape culture is even hidden in the imaginary friendzone. Yup, the friendzone, that mythical land where a man believes that he is entitled to sex with a woman simply because he was nice to her for an extended period of time. And yes, even women are guilty of this.
This lax attitude to the word rape, this feeling of nonchalance about a crime that happens in Kenya every 30 minutes, to boys and girls, women and men, regardless of age or dressing or whether they were drinking, is a huge problem. It is dependent of society believing that women owe men sex, that consent is not necessary and that they should take what they want from us whenever they deem it necessary.
Rape and sexual violence is normalised and that’s a bad thing. We would rather believe that these things are perpetuated by bad men wielding axes in dark alleyways even though two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. We would rather believe that the terrible realities we hear about aren’t real or that, at least, we can’t do anything about it. The truth is ugly. But by denying the obvious we continue to allow rapists to go unpunished and leave survivors silenced.
But blogging about it is not enough. Pointing it out on a forum tends to reduce the intensity of the message. It reduces it to a long winded conversation that will be forgotten when the wi-fi is out. So this is my solution.
I would like to go to high schools, everywhere in the country and educate young adults about the extent of rape culture. And I need your help.
We will go to schools, both private and public, in suburbs and impoverished areas, teaching them about this societal ill that will face them as soon as they are out of school. We will teach them about street harassment, victim shaming, slut shaming and all the things that are encapsulated in rape culture.
Sign up here to add your voice to #StopRapeCulture. Since the problem lies in a culture that is entertained by degrading acts and images of women, the solution is to look at the individual acts as a symptom of rape culture and solve it holistically. We all have a part to play in allowing rape culture to exist—so, we can all do something to eradicate it.
“Sexism is a big problem in this country…” started a woman.
“NOT ALL OF US ARE SEXIST!” Interrupted the men in a booming chorus.
“Yes, but we need to talk about…”
“But we’re not sexist. We think you’re equal. See? Not sexist. I agree you should get all that stuff you’re asking for.” And thus the men patted themselves on the back for not being sexists and avoided the conversation entirely. After all, it should have been had with all those crazy sexist men out there, not them. Certainly not them.
I have something to say. I’m sexist. Before you act all surprised, if you’re a man, so are you. In case the message was lost in that phrasing what I’m saying is that ALL MEN ARE SEXIST.
Before you skewer me in the comments, consider this, sexism isn’t always obvious. You don’t have to slap your wife around or throw insults at women. You don’t have to outright view women as lesser or even be against equality. All you have to do is live in a sexist society and pick up sexist attitudes without even considering what they are.
Consider two stories. One, the president has an affair. Two, the first lady has an affair. Which do you think will be the bigger scandal? You know which one it is. You know where the moral outcry will be loudest even if they’re both the same thing. You were brought up in that society and whether you like it or not you picked up some traits from it that determine how you treat women.
Most men have given some form of preferential treatment to a pretty girl as if looks were an indicator of how well someone should be treated.
Most men have said something to the tune of “you know how women are.” As if half the people in this county (or in the world) could fit into such a narrow behavioural pattern.
Most men have reduced a woman’s interests down to how they relate to men (“She likes football/top gear/ video games. She’s wife material.”) As if everything you find good or interesting about her is really just a criteria for whether or not she can be married.
All men have done and do things like this not out of malice or some intentional bigoted agenda but because the significance of these acts never even occurred to them. This is what I mean when I say you’re sexist. Perhaps you’re not A sexist. I acknowledge that difference. You don’t go out of your way to do it. Nevertheless the underlying tendencies are there and the fact that you hardly notice it is why this conversation is so important. Until you start listening you might never see how you’re mucking things up and you can never do better. Not hitting, insulting or openly looking down upon women is not an accomplishment. You don’t get a cookie and a free ride to skip this class.
Inevitably someone will point out that women are entirely capable of doing some of the things mentioned and of being sexist at large. That’s true. Here’s the difference. As a man you have certain privileges that women do not have. You do not have to feel any fear when walking down the street simply because you’re a man. When you’re assaulted you know what you’re wearing cannot be used to dismiss your claims. You’re not likely to be paid less because of your gender. Being a man means you’ve probably never had to worry that you’ll be forced to have sex to be able to do your job.
When it comes to sexism and men, in well over 90 percent of cases, you can simply walk away and be done with it. Women cannot walk away. They have to live with it. They lack that choice that you have. And when the problem is so systematic, of course it’s going to get priority. It affects half the country’s population directly. Any way you look at it that’s a national crisis. That’s why you (should) hear about it all the time.
Now, if my point still sits wrong with you here’s an analogy to help you along. You’re like a tourist on his first visit to an African country. Everything he knows about “Africa” is based on books and shows and hearsay that have a skewed slant to say the least. As a result he keeps offending people. For some reason the “you don’t live in trees!?” and the “I was expecting wild animals everywhere” don’t sit right with people.
The tourist isn’t a bad person. He’s not trying to offend. But what he knows is inaccurate and inadequate and it comes across. Many of us can find it within ourselves to have patience with him. It’s not entirely his fault. If he’s striving to actually learn something then we can even let his slips go by. But if he responds to every correction or confrontation with defensiveness, you’re less likely to be understanding. “It’s what I know!” Is not a particularly good defence if you’re not trying to know more. Nor is “I respect Africans as equals.”
So, in summary, just because you’re not a sexist doesn’t mean you’re not sexist. Those “you’re letting a girl beat you in school” speeches and their ilk among other things probably influenced your world view when you didn’t know any better. Your problem, and my problem, is largely ignorance. We can know more and we can do better. Don’t cling to your ignorance. Don’t defend it. Accept it, catch it, correct it and with hope, we can pass a lot less of it to the coming generations.