the dangers of prescriptive feminism – Ayodele Olofintuade 

One of the things I’ve stopped doing, especially since after reading Ms Yemisi Aribisala’s piece, Sister Outsider, is discuss the pros and cons of feminism on social media.

Aside from being condescending the article is full of generalizations and you come away with the impression that the ‘new wave Nigerian feminists’ go around with a loaded gun forcing people to ‘convert’ to feminism.

That’s aside from their desperation to appear on the world stage by latching on to Beyonce and MS Adichie… But that’s a story for another day.

Of course in the middle of this long rant against feminism, MS Aribisala managed to name her favorite feminists, I guess so as to make a distinction between ‘good and bad’ feminists.

As an activist of gender equality and campaigner against DV,  rape,  homophobia and other phobias that have kept women oppressed for years, I was deeply offended by the article and rather disappointed in a woman I admired for so many years.

But…

I discovered that her opinions are no different from that of women and men worldwide who sneer at feminists.

They are obtuse, deliberately so. And in such cases there’s really no point arguing, they are best ignored.

However, I decided to break that silence today because of an article written by Ms Adichie where she made a distinction between her brand of feminism and that of Beyonce’s.  Something along the lines of my milkshake is better than yours.

Ms Adichie didn’t exactly say that Beyonce is not a feminist, she just tried to explain how their feminism differ.

These two articles have one thing in common. They are prescriptive. They are telling you the brand of feminism you should buy into especially if you’re looking to gain their approval.

While Ms Aribisala who is a self proclaimed non-feminist seem to be saying ‘if you must be feminist, follow ye the people mentioned herewith’, Ms Adichie seem to be saying ‘mine is different from hers!’

What these women forget is that feminism is about self actualization, it’s a movement that seeks to ensure that all peoples are provided a level playing field irrespective of gender, race, class,  sexual identity or orientation.

It stands to reason that people should be encouraged to dig deeper into this ideology, but more importantly stay true to themselves.

The danger of prescriptive feminism is that a lot of people will be left behind, the voices we are seeking to amplify silenced because they are not ‘our kind’ of feminist, dangerously mimicking the society we are trying to change.

Feminism is not young in Nigeria and there is no such thing as new feminists, we are just building upon the platforms of our ancestors. We are not neophytes, we are standing on the back of giants Flora Nwapa, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Queen Amina of Zauzau, we are furthering the activism of the Aba women who protested against taxes under colonial rule.
We are queer, straight, Christian, atheist, Muslims, we are home makers, stay-at-home moms, bankers, artists, musicians, writers, doctors, engineers, we are anything we say we are…

We are here to stay…

We don’t need your approval!

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