Kellyanne Conway became the first woman to lead a successful presidential campaign. She not only led a successful one but one that became the biggest upset in history. And now she will be serving as counselor to the president. And yet, one does not hear the clamor and adulation that is usually associated with any, “first woman to” achievements. Where are the flag waving radical and moderate feminists who once hung bras to show their support for Hillary Clinton? Aren’t all women equal to all other women? Or maybe there are some women who are more equal than others. The feminist movement has always tripped me in one way or another but in this, I am really angry at the inconsistency even though I am not surprised at all.
I remember my first brush with feminism was in grade four in a classroom in Zimbabwe. I was 9 and the girl-child club was making waves in Zimbabwe. My crush became the president of the club at my school and I was not sure how to take it. Girls were favored in my class, they got their strokes on the hand and the guys got theirs on the butt. They were forgiven by teachers and boys got zero pardons. In short, things were not fair for the boys in my class and yet someone was suggesting things were not fair for the girls. I was livid and vowed to create a boy-child club someday but I still liked my crush and yes, I only made this vow to get her attention. Life huh. Then high school came along and I was going to boarding school. There were these twins, a boy and girl who were also going to boarding school. She complained that during the holiday she had not been able to attend parties he had attended because they went till late. She wanted equal treatment. At the same time she received a larger-allowance than her twin brother and got to carry delicacies to school because “she was a girl”. And the boy got the same old regular popped corn and juice. I pointed that she was getting favored in other instances but she retorted that “she was a girl” and girls like fancy quality stuff. I only shook my head in disbelief. Was this feminism I wondered, clamoring for equality when one was not favored and fighting to keep other unfair favors. May be it was simply evidence of the imperfection of any crusade led by humans.
In my heart of hearts I believe life has its ways of balancing its scales so I never complain about it being unfair. One gets a favor to stay out late another gets a favor to eat delicacies and have more pocket money and so on and so forth
I would be remiss not to mention the wave of divorces that appeared in Zimbabwe as the feminism movement showed up on Zimbabwean soil. Women all over were discovering their power of choice. Some had married for love, others into arranged marriages and they were all revolting and divorcing. The feminists who had flown to evangelize Zimbabwe were so proud of this progress. That was until slowly but surely a considerably large number of the divorced women returned to their husbands and negotiated or begged to be taken back. It was almost dubbed ‘recidivism’ as though marriage was a crime. Anyway, the reaction to this return of women to their husbands was a real joke to me. A joke in the face of all those who had hopped onto a horse they did not understand and the evangelists who were spreading an idea they may not fully grasp if it’s encouraged expression is the falling apart of families. Feminism really is taking on different shapes in different places and different epochs.
Once a struggle for the self-determination of women without the interference of the patriarchal hegemony, feminism has slowly become its own hegemony. It is now a concoction laced with other western ideals of self-actualization, individuation, self-sufficiency and so on. In fact, it has even split like Islam into radical feminism and regular feminism. One could also say by virtue of its proponents being human it has been advocated for by people with no issues, and others with daddy issues, people with anger issues, and its once free choice is now ‘choose-like-us-or-else’. I am reminded of an actress who says she likes feeling like a good housewife and was criticized for knocking feminism back one step. Well, she has chosen for herself but it looks like she needs to choose what feminism dictates because she is a woman. Feminism has taken it upon itself to dismiss some women and their self-determined choices such as abortion while bashing those who dismiss women and their self-determined choices in an absolutely hypocritical manner.
And in the case of Kellyanne Conway and Hillary Clinton feminism is shown to be hypocritical beyond understanding. They said we should look at Hillary independent of the other prominent man in her camp, namely Bill Clinton. Why can’t people look at Kellyanne Conway’s achievement independent of the man Donald Trump? Now they are calling her names. Donald trump called women names and they criticized him but now they are calling a woman names and its justified. So they are one and the same as Donald Trump. My favorite grade one defense line is “He started it.” It screams mature from miles away. (Sarcasm) Feminism has taken it upon itself to dismiss some women and their achievements while bashing those who dismiss women and their achievements in an absolutely hypocritical manner.
Only phony and ponzi-schemes behave in such a flippity floppy wish washy manner. One day celebrating a woman’s achievement and screaming that she be scrutinized separate from any man and another day choosing to discriminate another woman because of the man she is associated with. This is not only untenable, it is the signs of a hypocritical movement. I am reminded of an article critiquing super Mario-Run for its not so super gender politics. If Mario is important enough to critize why not criticize the movement for good gender politics that is failing!
I urge Africans all over the world to scrutinize these western ideals carefully. Yes, they sound wonderful and liberating yet one could look at their effects and see that sometimes they resemble African liberation stories. Stories that were once something but are now being used to carry out genocides, to plunge economies into trouble, and to satisfy the personal agendas of a few people. Maybe feminism is now the finger that broken men and women hide behind to exact their revenge or vent their anger. Maybe now its more about self-serving than about all women since its become selective, divided, and hegemonic. Maybe, its good to balance the freedom and the favors and understand that equality is but a difficult thing in a world where quality and quantity can be subjective. Maybe Feminism is as lost as all movements and religions become as more human beings join them. And again maybe-not, the verdict is yours. However, don’t just chose something because it is a western ideal, or that many people are choosing it, Africa, choose something because you understand it as it truly is. Respecting women and giving them equal pay and equal footing as men is super duper great, let’s find a constructive way of achieving this since we now know the pitfalls of the western methods that are reminiscent of the equality of animal farm.
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Life is a misery to be endured until we die. Even those with terminal illnesses find times of respite and laugh and enjoy their lives. So too is mortality a terminal illness. We will all die, I for one am glad this is so. But before that day I will define myself, I will not go without giving everything I have got, and I will love with all my heart.
I am proud to be an Afropolitan; a world citizen of African descend. I am called Allen and I love writing, eating, and singing in the shower!
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