Messages, Misogyny and Nigerian Entertainment: Part 1

Messages, Misogyny and Nigerian Entertainment: Part 1

 Chimamanda Adichie once said that feminism is not a cloak that she puts on and takes off as the circumstances suit. I’m afraid that when it comes to enjoying Nigerian entertainment, whether its comedy, films, music, or blogs, I often have to take that cloak right off, put it aside and cover it with another cloak, for good measure.One thing I hear a lot, in response to Nigerian feminism, is why do they have to be so angry, rude, unpleasant? My question is this: Is it possible to be a Nigerian feminist and NOT be angry.  So much of Nigerian entertainment (and virtually everything else) has a gloss of the most blatant sexism that, let me tell you, unless I take off that cloak, I’m foaming at the mouth half the time.
Just for the heck of it, I’ll take a deep breath and try to narrow down the things that make my blood boil into a tidy list.
1. The gold-digging narrative. Comedy and comedic music are especially guilty of this. Apparently, a woman will be the most appalling bitch until you ‘show her the money’ at which point she will turn into the sweetest thing who will forgive you and give you anything. When I say woman, I don’t mean ‘good woman’, of course. A good woman, upon setting eyes on you, will apparently sell her siblings to put you through school so you can reward her by marrying her and keeping her in the background for the rest of her life, but that’s another topic.My thoughts on this? If there is a high incident of gold-digging among Nigerian women (and I’d like to see the statistics please), it’s for 2 reasons – the Nigerian economy has been messed up for a long time and pussy is easy to sell. You better believe that if dick was as easy to sell in Nigeria, these men would be balancing it on their heads like Olajumoke the bread seller.What makes me so bitter is not that very few people acknowledge the role men play in these transactions. It’s the fact that if a young woman decides to work hard at university and her job to make her money, there’s a high chance that she will be subjected to so much sexual harassment (what’s the penalty for that, in Nigeria, I wonder) from her lecturers, employers and company clients that she might be left wondering whether it wasn’t just easier to sleep with that rich married man in the first place.

2. The use of hoe/slut/pom/karashika/Jezebel (the born-again version) and other variations. Those words have become meaningless nouns to describe a range of women from a paid sex worker to a woman who annoyed you at the bus stop to a woman who has exactly the same morals as the man calling her a hoe. It’s an age-old tactic to demonise women, justify bad treatment of women, keep the ‘Madonnas’ separate from the ‘whores’ and to get other women to buy into the division, as long as they get to be the Madonnas . It started with witches in the Middle Ages and got down to bitches. It doesn’t actually mean anything. Eldee, in a recent twitter rant, called Amber Rose and Kim Kardiashian hoes (actually he said ‘hoe ambassador’ which I thought was rather clever) but in reality they are just women that seem to have normal sex/relationship lives but like to, for some reason, put their naked bodies on blast. Lesson: It doesn’t mean anything, those words are just used to scare women into ‘behaving’.

3. Don’t get it twisted. Some women will act the damn fool for no apparent reason. In Nigeria,  when a woman acts  crazy, not only is she labelled for life, society immediately identifies an imaginary pack of women, who all apparently behave the same way, and labels them accordingly. The woman isn’t just a bitch – she’s one of them ‘bitches’. When a man behaves terribly, he’s a ‘work in progress’ and ‘God is still working on him’ because you know ‘anything is possible with Jesus’.

4. Male celebrities who loudly and repeatedly insist they want a hard working woman, how they can’t stand “laziness in a woman” and how she should bring something (usually money) to the table. For a while, I couldn’t really figure out what irritated me so much about these statements. I don’t actually buy into the whole idea that the man is the main ‘provider’ in a marriage or relationship.Apart from the implication that women are naturally lazy gold-diggers (see above), what bugs me about this statement? Reading an interview with a popular Kenyan actor who has made similar statements, the light bulb suddenly flicked on. He was asked if he could cook and he said no. No. Without apology or explanation. So what does he expect to be doing so while his wife is out there hustling for her half of the moolah and she calls him. “Honey, I have a late meeting, could you give the kids their tea and put them in bed” – “Ah, but you know, I can’t cut onion without you…..”There are 2 things going on here. Firstly domestic work, usually the domain of women in Nigeria and the rest of the world, is being devalued. It doesn’t matter how well she keeps your home and your children and how much that enables you to be the successful person you are, if she isn’t earning, she’s a leech. Secondly, you want her to continue her traditional female role (I mean you may help out but the home is her ‘responsibility’), and then somehow go out and have the same earning power as you have. Bonus point: You want her to be financially independent while you remain domestically dependent.Some (must always remember to say ‘some’) of the guys have a really good gig here. They get to shame women for being poor or gold diggers while ignoring the factors that keep women from making money – less job opportunities, getting paid less for the same job, sexual harassment or coercion at work, hours spent on doing all the domestic work. And also! They’ve decided that domestic work isn’t worth anything while carefully avoiding it themselves! Hurrah!

To be continued…

 

Tracy Ofarn

 

Feminism is not for perfect people

Feminism is not for perfect people

Dearest Friend and Feminist, ‎

Feminism is not for perfect people. Come with your flaws. Come with your quirks. Come with your peculiarities. Come with your religious beliefs and come with everything you have, and as you are. Don’t be roped into thinking that you need be perfect or fit into ‘one of a kind’ mould before you can identify with this movement/ideology. This is not that place.

Be spurred by injustice. Be spurred by inequality. Be spurred by a broken heart and be spurred by love. Whatever your reason for identifying with feminism, embrace it. It is valid.‎

This idea of who a ‘good feminist’ is or who a ‘bad one’ is, simply muddles the irrefutable diversity of human differences and experiences and you know what else, it attempts at equating your feminism with some behavioural codes. I’m not a good feminist and I am not a bad feminist. I’m simply a feminist, one influenced by my environment, personal character and inherent quirks. I will be good somedays and I will be very bad some other days. We cannot all be the same and there is no one shade of this ideology.‎

And something else, when you’re called a Facebook(Twitter) Feminist, accept that tag proudly. There is something called Digital Activism and social media is as valid as any other mode of activism. The digital world is as real as the offline world. The work you do online is valuable as the offline work. This is our reality. Digital conversations are making much impact as non-digital conversations. Anyone who undermines the influence of this space is living in the rocks. Social media is real and it’s influence is real. And whether your advocacy is just online, that is valid.‎

You need nothing else except the drive for fairness and equality of all persons. You will make mistakes because you’re human and don’t think it will subtract from your right to identify with feminism.

Your existence is larger than one ideology you identify with. There is more to you. You contain multitudes.‎

You’re allowed to be flawed, contradictory, messy and confused. Don’t ever submit yourself to some purity test of what qualifies or disqualifies your feminism. There is no appointed feminist police to scrutinise your authenticity. Own that label and stumble around, make your mistakes and learn from them. And don’t be too concerned with the superficiality of your preferences; whether you love or hate men, or whether you like or detest make up, or whether you dress as a tomboy or a Madonna, or whether you enjoy erotic or Shakespearean books. 

Never attempt to organise your entire life into ‘feminist acts’ or ootherwise. Your life is fluid. And don’t be too concerned about the people who have an entire script of what you should be doing or how you should live as a Feminist when they are doing none of that. If they were genuine, they will lead the way and show you ‘the right way’ but their true intentions is that they are here to discredit you. Keep doing your thing. And if you’re bad, well half a loaf is better than no loaf.‎

In conclusion, acknowledge that you’re making a change, nothing else matters. Go eat some ice-cream or baileys and if you’re a Nigerian, indulge yourself this very long weekend/holiday starting now! Go and prosper or see a movie.

All the love in my heart.‎

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

Two weeks ago, in Ikoyi, Lagos, a bunch of schoolgirls sat for their finals and took to the streets in celebration. A bunch of boys from a school next door, (who had just finished their finals too) also took to the streets and started harassing these school girls  They tore their clothes, stole their phones and money, and then attempted to rape these girls, in broad daylight.
This week, in South-Africa, one girl was beaten to death and then burnt beyond recognition by her ex-boyfriend  Another was kidnapped and brutalized as she tried to escape from the car of her kidnapper.

In order to draw attention to the manner in which girls and women are being brutalized by the society, to examine the different ways that the entitlement mentality, with which men and boys are raised, contributes to the high rate of violence against women, and highlight the different ways that men can help mitigate other men’s terrible attitude towards women, the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement was trended on social media by gender activists and feminists from all over Africa.

It has become the norm on social media that whenever feminists or gender activists are advocating for the rights of the woman, men (and women) barge into the threads and try to trivialise the issues 

(by personalising it), this usually descends into a troll-fest with the activists accused of misandry and warnings issued to non-feminist women to stay off the threads because they run the risk of not being seen as ‘good girls’ and ‘wife-materials’.

The #notallmen hashtag is an example of the defences raised by men to tackle what is perceived as an attack by feminists on the institute of ‘manhood’.

However, this latest hashtag has gotten more backlash from both men and women, even those previously seen as allies to the gender equality movement. The tag #menarescum/#menaretrash is seen as being unnecessarily harsh, demeaning and off-putting. Unlike previous times when the voices of feminists and gender activists gain a lot of traction during activism on social media, the voices of people protesting against the hashtag is louder and angrier.

Although gender activists pointed out that the hashtag is not directed at men in particular, but at the structures/systems that brought about inequalities and lately, spates of brutalization against women, a lot of people are not buying it.
According to @Mr Boro, a Twitter user: 


“We have an issue at hand but you repeatedly say I’m stupid and want me to accept I’m stupid and then support you?”

“The same way you feel the need to say all men are  trash is the same way I feel the need to always disagree. You can’t gag me.”

He goes further:

“You can advocate for women’s rights without putting men down. They are not mutually exclusive.”

“Shouting men are scum on Twitter won’t stop Titi, 28 in Iganmu from getting slapped by her husband tomorrow.”

A lot of activists disagree with Mr, Boro, because they believe that with more push women will come to know and recognize their rights and men will be forced to examine their sense of entitlement and privileges afforded them by the patriarchal system presently at work on the continent.

@ChineEzeks a well-known activist and advocate for gender equality;


“The hubris & ignirance to think you somehow escaped being conditioned by a patriarchal society and the privilege it affords you. Amazing.”

“You’re not trash, but you feel more displeasure about being called trash than about women experiencing displeasure from trash. Ok.”

Also calling out people about examining their reasons for being up-at-arms against the hashtag was @Aninoritse, gender and LGBTQ rights activist;


“Of course we know not all men are scum but no oo. Correct it.”

“And correct the scum among you. No o. You’re crying and claiming we are making noise.”

“This is why the narrative will never change. Men are scum/trash. Instead of you men to band together and weed out your scum.”

The narrative emerging from these engagements seems to be that advocates should not be so ‘hostile’ in highlighting the ways inequalities have put everyone at a disadvantage. That the engagements should be less confrontational/militant.

The question is, has the less militant activism worked? In all these years of gender rights activism in Africa what has really worked? Can the answer be gotten from our history? Particularly the activism carried out by women pre- and during colonialism. Were there other tools of engagement used by women before getting to the point of ‘sitting-on-a-man’(a tool used by Eastern women to correct power imbalances) and the topless protests  carried out by women in the Western part of Nigeria to protest injustices by government authorities.

 On the other hand, post-independence, women advocates all over Africa have been lobbying their various governments for change in policies for over 30years, the advocacies are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of women’s rights. Case in point the Violence Against Person’s bill which has been passed into law and the Child right’s act, which has gained traction in several states of the federation.

The way and manner through which feminists have engaged the issues of activism worldwide is vastly different, the end result has always been highlighting and correction of gender imbalances, can we then say that the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement has been able to achieve its aim?

Feminism 101 – The Basics 

Feminism 101 – The Basics 

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:

Womanism

Third world feminism/Post-colonial feminism

Islamic feminism

Christian feminism

Socialist feminism

Sex-positive 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.

-Emike

stop judging our bodies! – Okwei Odili 

stop judging our bodies! – Okwei Odili 

​When Malcolm X told a thick crowd of African Americans that the most abused person in America is the black woman, he didn’t say it under the influence of ogogoro or overfeeding.

He said it because among our people are men like Trick daddy, African American men who hate African American women. Because these men hate themselves. Because these men cannot fight for their mothers and sisters.

According to failed and now fat rapper, Trick daddy, African American women are ‘hoes’ that need to sit up before the Latina and white ‘hoes’ take all their men. 

SAD.

Let us bring it back to Nigeria where many women are bleaching.

I shared an article talking about the pressures on women in Nigeria to emulate fake/un-African beauty standards and it was a Nigerian man here who said, Are the women being forced by men to bleach? Well I’d like to tell you about someone I dated as a young woman, who actually bought me the cream to ‘tone’. I dumped him.

I will also like to refer you to mainstream Nigerian music videos by popular Nigerian males filled with non African women, who look different than us. Each one fairer than the next. Diversity is the spice of life, to me. So I appreciate everybody. But to belittle one over another, especially the queens, I can’t take.

Not everybody has the psychological strength to refuse what is subtly or not subtly drummed into their ears. So yes, because men and women rely on each other, they have the capacity to influence one another. So yes, the bleaching continues.

Africa is the seat of the diamonds and gold, cocoa and rubber, oil and super humans, yet we assist those who hate us, to hate us. How dare we assist them, to un-glamourise us, we who are queens and kings, colorful, even when we are sleeping.

SAD.

Time to stop this. Leave African women alone. Stop asking us about our hair, stop judging our bodies. Our hair, breasts, nose, hips, vagina and all are OURS. We don’t tell you what to do with your body.

And STOP that fucking picture where all we do is carry water or firewood on our heads in 2016. 

Stop comparing us to anybody because we are too damn magical for all your collective idiocies and divisional tactics.

– OKWEI-UGO ODILI.

A tribute to Fezeka Kuzwayo by Sybil Nandi Msezane

A tribute to Fezeka Kuzwayo by Sybil Nandi Msezane

Her name is Fezeka Kuzwayo affectionately known as Fez by friends. She was a loving daughter who took care of her mother and did her best to make her comfortable through all they had been through.

I am Khanga
By Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo

I wrap myself around the curvaceous bodies of women all over Africa

I am the perfect nightdress on those hot African nights

The ideal attire for household chores

I secure babies happily on their mother’s backs

Am the perfect gift for new bride and new mother alike

Armed with proverbs, I am vehicle for communication between women

I exist for the comfort and convenience of a woman

But no no no make no mistake …

I am not here to please a man

And I certainly am not a seductress

Please don’t use me as an excuse to rape

Don’t hide behind me when you choose to abuse

You see

That’s what he said my Malume

The man who called himself my daddy’s best friend

Shared a cell with him on [Robben] Island for ten whole years

He said I wanted it

That my khanga said it

That with it I lured him to my bed

That with it I want you is what I said

But what about the NO I uttered with my mouth

Not once but twice

And the please no I said with my body

What about the tear that ran down my face as I lay stiff with shock

In what sick world is that sex

In what sick world is that consent

The same world where the rapist becomes the victim

The same world where I become the bitch that must burn

The same world where I am forced into exile because I spoke out?

This is NOT my world

I reject that world

My world is a world where fathers protect and don’t rape

My world is a world where a woman can speak out

Without fear for her safety

My world is a world where no one , but no one is above the law

My world is a world where sex is pleasurable not painful…

She was a singer with a beautiful voice that could bring you to tears.
She was a fierce feminist and activist who spoke truth to power.
She was a friend and sister who checked on those in her circle without fail.


She is Fezeka Kuzwayo; daughter, sister, friend, activist, feminist, vocalist, writer
Say her name and stop this mislabeling her.
Just because the justice system failed her does not change that she was raped, yes Fezeka was raped by Jacob Zuma and 10 years of her life stolen because instead of solidarity she was vilified and attacked.

Say her name Fezeka Kuzwayo

Rest in Power sis…


We will continue to soldier on
We will keep you alive as we continue with the work started when you refused to be silenced and spoke of your RAPE, we refuse to have history write you as an accuser when you were raped.
You will be missed Fez
#sayhername Fezeka Kuzwayo

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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!