Should men and women have equal rights? In the last few years, this debate continues to flood social media. And now it is clear that it has come to stay. Especially because there are eager debaters on either side of the equality debate (feminism). On one side, the die-hard feminists who vehemently maintain that women are not inferior to men. On the other hand, there are the anti-feminists who believe that the patriarchal society we live in should be left undisturbed.
This is normal. Because feminism is a social change, and just like every other, it is not immune to resistance.
What really is feminism?
Feminism seems to be the most misunderstood word in the Nigerian social media space. At the mention of the word, a danger alarm goes off in many. Then a strong gender bashing tournament begins right after. Feminism is not an exhaust vent for pent up anger, pain, bitterness, or trauma. It is a call to human race to quit short-paying women on their humanity allowances (rights, responsibilities, opportunities, power).
This simply means that feminism is a movement which proposes that everyone in their own small corner should do something to end the sidelining of women. This means that feminism is not an exclusive women club where they teach man-hating, family disintegration, and the antics of gender war. Anyone, whether male or female, who believes that women deserve better is a feminist.
The gospel of feminism is this basic arithmetic. If a man is 10 + 4 and a woman is 8 + 6, they are equal, just different. And that difference in composition and attributes does not spell inequality in any way.
Nigerian men and feminism
Every social change meets a stern resistance. And it does not come as a surprise that feminism just like independence, ending apartheid, campaign against Female Genital Mutilation, is greatly kicked against.
A July 2018 study of 300 men across 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria shows that only 8% of Nigerian men support feminism. Some women say they have been out with a man who immediately lost his cool when he perceived her feministic inclination. Anti-feminist men cannot stand that feminism wants to destroy the structures which enthroned them while enslaving women. While anti-feminist women love the crumbs falling from the table of patriarchy and cannot imagine going out to work. They will rather let the men secure the bag and have all their bills paid.
While it is funny that a lady can go from 100% to 0% wife material, once she takes a stand on the feminist side, the fear of many anti-feminist men is understandable. Feminism has been dented with misandrist undertones by women who are seeking vengeance for trauma, and eternal scars brought upon them by men. When justice is unaffordable or inaccessible, vengeance becomes its cheapest substitute.
The few Nigerian men who support feminism are those who see the movement as an empowerment scheme for the women they hold dear. They refuse to see it as a power tussle. Rather, they see it as a program that relieves them of the burden of shouldering all financial responsibilities. Such as is known to leave them with no time to bond with their kids, thereby making their retirement, a time to idle away until death comes along.