Transmisogyny, classism and the Nigerian Feminist movement

Classism is the bane of Nigerian society, and it has crept into a feminist movement that’s still grappling with issues as basic as gender roles, the perfect victim syndrome, sex-work and LGBTQI rights.

During protests and discourses that have taken place since this new wave of feminism, which gained traction on social media over the past five years or so (a renaissance led by the LGBTQI community), there has been an ongoing battle to establish respectability politics especially amongst younger feminists.

There is always more outrage when ‘virgins’ are raped than when sex-workers are sexually assaulted by the police, the rights of women to safe abortions is glossed over, and the silence is usually resounding when LGBTQI rights are mentioned.

This attitude stems from the Nigerian middle-class obsession with sex- sex not as pleasure but as an act performed on the feminine, sex as a value judgement on who has been ‘good’ or ‘bad’, who’s deserving, who’s not.

Therefore, it didn’t come as a surprise that a lot of Nigerian feminists (in the wake of a transphobic tweet made by a popular white feminist writer) have been twisting themselves into pretzels to define who a woman is in order to invalidate the existence of trans persons (trans-women in particular as trans-men are still being erased).

Gender is a capitalist/patriarchal construct and there’s no greater illustration of this than the existence of the intersex, trans-persons and gender queer persons.

Trans-persons in particular have been at the vanguard of LGBTQI rights movement which in it’s recent history has been incorporating feminist values into it’s narratives.

Unfortunately these online attacks on trans-persons always translate into real time attacks on real or perceived queer people, and feminists, of all people, should understand that ‘its not just the internet’ because most of the street protests and gains in policy making around gender equality started online, and if these impacts can be made through the use of social media, how much more discriminatory speeches directed at people who have already been made vulnerable by laws designed by the government for that exact purpose.

When feminists theorise and advocate for the dismantling of the patriarchy, it is a call for dismantling gender and all it’s accoutrements. We are saying the feminine deserve respect and equal treatment, that we are not slaves or chattels created for the use of a sex that has been set up as ‘better’. We are insisting that these so called biological differences are not so different if the medical field is not so misogynist. Above all we insist on empathy and that the rights of all human beings, irrespective of their race, sex or identities, should be respected.

Transphobia is homophobia, it is misogynist and violent. Your ‘innocent’ remarks online can and in most cases, would lead to the assault of a person who doesn’t fit into gender stereotypes. And most of the people that come under attack are poor Nigerians who don’t have access to the opportunities that makes you privileged.

These human beings, more often than not do not have access to the opportunities that enable you to own phones and make internet subscriptions. They can’t call anyone when arrested by the police, their parents are too poor to afford bail. They are everyday people who suffer in silence because your feminism is too classist to take note of them, and even when you deign to, you’re in your ‘saviour’ mode.

Who is a woman? A woman is the feminine, she is whoever she says she is, and as long as this woman is in no way harming you, then you have absolutely no right to cause her harm.

Ayodele Olofintuade – Writer/Journalist/Researcher.

Lakiriboto Chronicles: A History of Badly Behaved Women https://g.co/kgs/JWxHky

A love letter to Nigerian Feminists – Ayodele Olofintuade

Dearest One,

How have you been? I mean how are you really?

I hope you’re making money, I hope you’re taking out time to be with friends, time to breathe and party. I hope you’re getting laid, getting well laid. But most importantly I hope you’re healthy and happy.

I understand how difficult it is to be a Nigerian, woman, to self-identify as feminist, to do this work of nation building by dismantling the patriarchy one damn brick at a time.

I understand how it feels to have reductive terms like ‘bitter aunty’, Facebook/Twitter feminist, etcetera thrown in your face each time you stand up for yourself and other women. I understand how tired you get when you open your account in the morning to the howling of trolls in your mentions, on your feed. I understand how you sometimes despair when ignorant people with the emotional intelligence of a rock and the IQ of the size of a grain of sand starts TELLING you how to be.

I am in your shoes.

But I want you to know that you’re doing alright, you’re rattling cages, things are no longer the same and it’s because you’re lending your voice and muscles to making this change. You are doing amazing darling. You are the dreams of your ancestors, you are beautiful, inside out.

Well Done!!!

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. We will have equality, we will have bodily autonomy, we will have our sexual and reproductive rights. We will use our voices.We will have anything we set our sights on because we are human. We will have all our rights, we have power, we will use it.

I’m sending you peace and love. I’m sending you basket-fulls of not-giving-a-fuck.

Soar.

the dangers of prescriptive feminism РAyodele 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!

Cooking 101

First the beer

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Cut the chicken

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Fetch the spices (Note: There is no such thing as overspicing)

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Soak your plantain in blended tomatoes and rodo overnight

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Top up your beer as you suddenly realize you can’t abandon this shit halfway

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The most important part of cooking is keeping the cook lubricated – Chris Bankole

Season chicken

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Don’t worry about getting your fingers dirty

Gist about setting up a Mexican Restaurant in Ibadan

Laugh at the fact that you don’t know how to cook Mexican food

Gist about a crooked vegetable delivery man called Ahmeed

Fry chicken

 

There is such a thing as too much oil!

I used to know a cook, fantastic guy, nasty when sober, nice when drunk – Chris

Chop tomatoes, rodo, onions

Blend

Let the chicken simmer

drink some more beer

start to clean up

Discuss – Where do jobless alcoholics get money to buy alcohol and other existential questions

Fry the pepe

 

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Add one cube of knorr and a teaspoonful of salt

Leave spoon inside the pot

Parboil rice (shit I forgot the picture!)

Drink some more beer

Touch spoon which is hellishly hot

Scream

Drink some more beer

Start clearing the kitchen

 

Realize this shit is no joke

drink some more beer

Discuss painting houses, past, present, future

Would you describe the labour you put into painting a house as intense as the one you put into cooking a pot of jollof rice?

Realize you’ve been staring at your empty cup, horror!

How do Cooks do it?

How do women who work nine to five, come home and do this?

Remember you’re not even in your own cramped up, nepaless kitchen

Remember how useful kitchen gadgets are, how marvelous running water, electricity and a huge zinc are

Start frying dodo

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Realize you’ve been at this for over one hour

Swear like a sailor

Throw rice in the pepe

 

Discuss Death – everybody dies

Discuss A woman’s place is in the kitchen

Seriously?

Discuss spending two hours in the kitchen to prepare food for five people

Promise death to the next person who says ‘housewives’ do nothing all day

Come closer and tell me how a woman should do all the cooking…

  • Ayodele Olofintuade