Feminism, women and sometimes men have expressed it through their art, policy-making, and scientific theories. In and of itself, feminism is both personal and public(?), but the basic tenet of women’s rights remains unchanged. So whilst one may not call oneself a feminist, one’s choice(s) may be. As has been said many times before, the feminists that came before us enable us to make the choices that we do.
Feminism has recently become a hot-button topic, thanks to the likes of Chimamanda Adichie, Beyonce and many more. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around as to what feminism is or isn’t. This article aims to provide a brief overview of Feminism, not an in-depth analysis.
With all that out of the way, let’s start:
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, feminism is:
1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
The modern-day feminist movement, started in the West during the 1800s, said movement can be divided into three eras. They are the first, second and third wave;
First Wave: This era covers the 1800’s to the mid-1900s, voting and property rights were the main concern of this first wave.
Second Wave: From the mid-1960s to the 1980s -some sources put the end at the early 1990s- a new era of emerged in the feminist movement. A main concern was reproductive rights.
Third Wave: The most recent era started in the late 1980s/early 1990s, intersectionality is an important concern of this era.
During the aforementioned eras, different forms of feminism emerged; some of them are:
Third world feminism/Post-colonial feminism
The following are arguably the most relevant to the Nigerian condition:
Womanism: This form of feminism addresses the lack of representation of African-American women in the mainstream American feminist movement.
Post-colonial feminism: Deals with the feminist movement in the “Third-world” i.e. formerly colonized countries, as most feminist discourse is filtered through a Western lens.
All of the above fall under the umbrella of feminism; sometimes they’re in step with one another, at other’s they at cross-purposes. This is to remind one that there’s no one way to be a feminist and we all don’t have to agree on the method(s) to reach our common goal of women’s rights.
At the end of the day, feminism can be personal but it is necessary, get in where you fit in.