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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Columnist: Nana Ama Opoku Agyemang

An effect of misconstrued feminism

By Nana Ama Opoku Agyemang

Dear Reader, I think and I am hoping you will be able to understand this. Anyone I've shared pieces of it with have not been able to understand enough for me to want to go into details. People are quick to judge and blame me fully for whatever it is.

And with such judgement, I have never had the confidence to open up more. Today I am opening up, and even that, it is still shrouded as I am not ready to face the world with this truth of mine. MY TRUTH. I started hearing about what men can do women can do better a long time ago. It made me competitive. To get excited about something, I had to have competed with a male and either won or gotten close enough. In school it was competition throughout. I made good enough grades in class. Just good enough.

The competition was nice. I got bullied by some people in my early teens. These were people I never expected bullying from yet it happened. I never spoke about it. Why? Now on hindsight I think it was because I also always heard that boys are stronger.

Boys are stronger than girls. Only weak girls cry and complain. Boys don't complain. Mind you I had a competitive mind set. Why should I complain or report this? I will be seen as weak. I wasn’t a female. I was just a competitor for and with guys.

In University, I'd speak my mind fiercely and argue my point out with just about anyone. I still do sometimes. I struggled with being compassionate and being fierce. I chose the fierce over and over until I read something that kind of poked my mind to realize that being compassionate isn't a sign of weakness. Being weak sometimes isn't weakness. That it is okay to cry sometimes. Even that, for a long time, I was comfortable dating men I had more money than.

It wasn't to lord over them. It was to make me feel I was still in charge. For me, it was a sign of weakness to have a man be better than me. Nowadays and for the past three years I've had some reflections. I've read more. I've analysed myself and faced whatever it was.

Being a woman was my problem. Because I had been told over and over to measure up to a man. I wasn't told in the media and by women activists to be better than myself of yesterday. I was just told to be better than a man. Than the man. Now I realize well, I was born a woman. I wasn't born weak. I was born with certain qualities that makes me want to protect and defend my own. It is part of my set up. Yet I grew up fiercely wanting to be like a man. Like the man. I know what the messages were.

I read Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times and Spectator and Mirror on the regular. I read the news articles on women empowerment. I listened to the news on women empowering other women to be better than men. They all got into my mind and sought to give me a different meaning to who I am.

I wasn't nurtured to be a better woman. I was nurtured to be better than the man. I know first-hand what these have done to me. I have experienced it. I have witnessed it. Has it been easy? Well, sincerely I wish I had been told to be a better version of myself every day.

So when I read all these "feminism" which sort of focuses on the messages I knew from earlier, it worries me. It drains me. And now there seem to be a sort of a turn where men who did not make themselves gods are being vilified for being seeming gods. Those young boys I grew up with were children, just like me. They didn't make themselves gods. They were confused just as I was. We seem to think boys and men have always had it easy from childhood.

On hindsight, I think we have failed to appreciate their struggles because we think they have none. And then the society and how it moulds our thinking and our thoughts! How boys are raised. How girls are raised differently. And how we struggle to compete against each other.

Please hear my cry. I do not dislike the true sense and theme for feminism. Except I have experienced and misapplied its meaning. Those wrong meanings are still being shared and that scares me for the children and young women who may fall into what I fell in. We are on a certain path. Feminism as I have come to understand it is devoid of competition and insults. It is merely seeking to empower women. I get scared at the men being vilified and scared for the women being seemingly empowered these days by a section of women We need better truths.

I honestly think once a person is made to be better than they were, you can only but suppress them for a limited time. They will break free. They will fly. Sometimes forced external force ends life. The force that creates lives are the forces that come from within. Affirmative action, that’s the one seeking to provide quotas for women right? If there are so many qualified women, affirmative action won't be needed per se. I think what we need is self-empowerment. Not forced ones like confidence, it must be and come from within.

One of the most beautiful things I've come to embrace in my liberation is that I'm a woman!!! I should be better than me of yesterday. If I’m with a man and feel like I just want a hug to feel good, I ask for it. I don't feel that will make me weak. If I get jealous over something, I admit it to me. And I voice it out. I don’t want to fight with myself anymore.

It has been too much of a struggle. So when people misconstrue all these themes and others seem to fight them, my guess is that this is the place they fight from. Let’s stay away from those comparisons. Let's accept our female tendencies and empower us to be better than ourselves. Not better than a certain man or boy who may be as totally confused as ever!

In accepting that we are females, we will also be accepting and become conscious of our biological set ups. We do have limitations, more than men. In my working life, I have come across quite a sizeable number of women in their late thirties and early to mid-forties who are single and wishing for a baby, just one baby.

NOT EVEN A HUSBAND. Because they do realize that at the end of the day, there is something inside almost all of us that makes us want to nurture, bring up and correct another human being. God put these things inside us. We need to embrace them all.

There are many angle to all issues. This is my take on the current trend of feminism from certain angles. We need better truths and acceptance. We do not need competition with the male specie. We need competitions with ourselves.

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