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Opinions of Saturday, 10 February 2018

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Feminism, feminists and you

There has been a brouhaha as to whether or not cooking is the responsibility of wives There has been a brouhaha as to whether or not cooking is the responsibility of wives

Sometimes, feminists can be quite irritating that you’d be tempted to not only hate them but despise what they stand for.

The question though is: why are they so annoying? Are they annoying because they are telling us the truth we never wanted to hear and in a not so nice a way?

Feminism is about women being allowed to be the best they can be without the limitation of deeply entrenched societal view of roles and responsibilities of people based on their gender.

If you want the kind of relationship that is mutually gratifying, one that no one is forced to do anything all alone because he is a man or a woman and one that the pursuit of dream is not subject to the approval or availability of another, then in principle, you are a feminist or agree with them to an important extent. If you don’t want the above, then you have a problem that can best be described as indescribable. Send yourself to the treatment table to be detoxified.

In principle, the majority of us believe that women deserve more. The issue has been about how much they deserve.

There are many imbalances in our society as far as gender issues are concerned that needs to be dealt with and no group of people are pushing for that than feminists. They have a good cause in principle but the approach can be regressive to the cause.

The problem is that there is an overemphasis on equality instead of equity in what they are seeking and that is what subjects the demands to so many oppositions.

Equality works nowhere in the world. If you can go to work, respect your boss in spite of being more competent than him, your husband being the head must not hurt as long as your dignity as a human doesn’t go with it. Men who don’t deserve this ascribed headship in most cases lose it morally. As we speak, some women are the heads of their families because the man isn't living to his expectations.

That said, God did enough to show us the way as to what our primary roles are: from reproduction to taking care of the family until we die, there are clues to guide us. The woman’s nature imposed duty of carrying the child in her womb for 9 months, breastfeeding her for a further one year made it only reasonable in the eyes of humans to make her the keeper of the home whilst the man goes out to bring food.

Man didn’t decide to put the baby in the woman’s womb, man didn’t decide to put the milk in the woman’s breast: it was the creator’s design.

What man did was to define roles based on these natural characteristics to bring the needed balance in the management of the family. Wherever there are no assigned roles, nothing gets than To God and His Word, a man and a woman are two people who are actually one due to their interdependence on each other. The man is the head, the woman his partner through the journey of life.

This concept of headship isn’t a leader-servant relationship as some men make it to be. It means the man has the greater responsibility. If one has to die for the family, it must be the man, when there’s danger, the man must put his fears into his pocket and get his life on the line. It also means ensuring that the woman is happy and not enslaved

This is why men go to war whilst women and children stay back.

In view of this, the man is given the physical strength to handle the pressure that comes with it. It was not the making of man that he is physically stronger and hence the one with the greatest burden of putting food on the table.

What point am I making? Nature informed some of the decisions feminist call patriarchal. Fast forward, as the world aged, the brain became more important than the muscle. Man this time downplayed the intelligence of women and made them mainly housekeepers whilst they pursue knowledge and their dreams. The few women who got the opportunity to be educated proved that they were as intelligent as the man and that amongst other things brought to the consciousness of society the need to give women unlimited access to education, work, leadership and the many opportunities that were the preserve of men.

All these changes to what was previously the norm were accepted: albeit reluctantly.

Today, most countries give men and women equal right at institutional levels.

However, there remains the “woman can’t and woman must” mentality that sees society place a yoke on the shoulders of women. She has to be humble and marry else she’d be tagged and called names, she has to dream less to avoid being called arrogant and appealing to a less ambitious man. For everything she does, it has to be geared towards being accepted by a man else it is fruitless. This is what gave birth to 21st-century feminism. The goal is to improve the quality of life of the woman by encouraging respect and shared responsibility across the board in marriages and to extend relationships. She can work and make money in the same way the water won’t refuse to boil when the man lit the fire.

Feminist recognise where men were wrong in the assignment of gender-based responsibilities without paying the slightest attention to how nature may have aided in the assignment of these roles and so they attack what the world is today indiscriminately to achieve what they opine the ideal world should be.

Their critics also forget that most of the deeply entrenched gender roles were assigned with no consideration of today’s context and passed on as a culture. In view of this, in today’s world using culture as an alibi won’t always work because the needs of then aren’t the same as then. In the ideal world of hard-core feminists, the home is made up of two equals with a timetable that spells out turns in the execution of home chores and one that sees whoever is home doing more regardless of what’s between his legs (borrowed some of their expressions). The woman can also own a fat bank account and contribute financially to running the home. If the man can cheat and be forgiven, the woman should be free to cheat as well and be forgiven.

The woman’s place is not the kitchen; the kitchen belongs to everyone with a stomach and a hand and available because no one is born with the ability to do anything until they are thought how to do it.

Their point is that if a woman can be taught how to cook, the man can learn same.

To them, what we call male and female roles are not part of the biological make-up of any gender but roles assigned by men who always deemed women inferior.

At the end of it all, we have 50/50 roles shared across-board regardless of who does more of what. Are they right? To an extent. Are they wrong? To an extent.

You’d, however, admit that if you analyse the above carefully: they are more right than wrong.

The problem with today’s feminists is that they have moved from pushing a philosophy to influence the thinking of people to police the thoughts of people. They underrate the task at hand and think people should know what they know and look at life likewise.

It is one thing fighting for legal backing to advance the rights of people, it is one thing demanding for the equitable allocation of opportunities without gender biases and another telling people to change their minds. People change their minds when they are convinced.

To feminists, anyone who agrees is knowledgeable and modern. If you disagree, you are backward and lack the ability to decode English properly. They are the intelligent few with the burden of forcing common sense into the heads of a headstrong society that has taken solace in marriage to endure slavery.

Disagree with one on an issue and you will find yourself in a battle of words and aggressive attacks from a mob that will go to every length to let you know how daft you are for contradicting them. Wisdom is siding with them: say no and you belong to the opposite.

This is why many people tend to hate feminists and by so doing hate what they stand for even though in truth, they make some good points and only have weaknesses like we do.

The problem is that they leave no room for correction and don’t deem themselves capable of getting it wrong.

Another issue I have with them is how they attack women who disagree with them and rarely hesitate to subject them to ridicule. It is interesting because even in a word they intimate to enslave women, women enjoy great protection from uncouth attacks. Men treat women better than feminist when they disagree.

When the Titanic was sinking, there was a clear instruction to save women and children. This was a decision made by men.

When you disagree with them as a man, they’d question your qualification for doing so on the back of the privileges you enjoy just for having a stick in between your legs. You are the oppressor and don’t qualify to be the one to propose the approach the oppressed need to adapt to be free

This is why some people find the movement self-seeking and a kind of refuge for frustrated single women. But those people are also wrong: it isn’t every woman who wants marriage or ready to fake humility to be accepted. It isn’t any woman who will accept an unworthy man to be head over her life just because majority of humans think he is automatically entitled to it even if unearned

I believe that in all, we need a world that gives every human a good satisfying life without being limited by stereotypes and gender-based cultural biases. Cultures are man-made and based on perception about how we can best co-exist mostly at a time when life was not as sophisticated as it is.

Today, the time has changed a lot, people who use the word of God, which is the Bible to impose men dominance on women do so out of ignorance: the Bible is clear about the man’s role and those roles make it impossible for the woman to be a slave. If you are happy about being the head as ascribed by the Bible, serve because God’s principle of leadership is service and not lordship.

When it comes to gender issues, a majority of people begin to suffer from selective amnesia. From the feminists to their critics, we all have issues.

But let’s be honest, even if for once: there can’t always be witches, there must be a wizard camp too or none at all.

Yes, we need to refine the way we look at issues in connection with the changing times. The 21st-century man must learn how to change diapers, cook and clean the room because the woman’s worth today goes far beyond home and children management.

Yes, managing the home may be the woman’s primary responsibility for the family whereas the man must break sweat providing the means for that man, there’s the need for the man to step in and help at home.

In a world where a man is quick to ask a woman about the work, she does before proposing, keeping the home should be a shared responsibility that is not determined by a roaster but who is available at the time it needs done. I don’t have to wait for her to come home and cook when I’m home way before she returns from work.

Yes, we should all have our primary responsibilities but there should be flexibility, role-swapping and support for each other to make the burden lighter.

The 21st woman is doing a lot to assist the man in his stone aged ascribed duty of providing for the home: tell me why the man shouldn’t put in a shift in keeping the home even if he wants to maintain that it’s the woman’s primary duty. How less of a man or head will one be if he helps his wife at home to make life easier and lessen the burden placed on her?

Her being a woman is not in getting dirty for the good of the home and neither is mine looking dapper 247. It’s about the two of us working in unison to create a better future for us and the kids. The truth though is that we can’t make much progress if these changes are forced on people. Yes, the world has come of age, a lot has changed. Today, there are women presidents in many countries. Some time ago, a woman couldn’t even vote.

These strides were not made by women alone: in fact, the laws that made many of these rights possible for women were passed by parliaments that consisted of only men.

Feminism is not about a few women fighting their way against societal prejudice but the world coming to a point of convergence as far as collaboration between both genders is concerned. Advocacy is needed to fast-track the process and draw the awareness of people.

It requires constant rehashing of the issues but it must not be mixed with emotions and bad manners to make people more resistant and turn down the invitation to the corridors of thinking place where we find consensus.

We must not lose the natural progression being made due to the demands of life and the need to work together.

Yes, women can be armed robbers too. Yes, women can be stripped naked in the public too if we think it’s cool when done to men suspected to be armed robbers.

The point I am driving home is that as unfair as the current system might seem to women, it gives them a certain level of protection and priority treatment that they’d not want to negotiate. This also means that there are issues affecting men that is crowded by not doing house chores despite these issues making men live averagely less than 7 years compared to the woman.

This is not a feminists’ agenda but the movement for a better world.

The supposed right men enjoy, the overrated strength and so called headship have also disadvantaged us. Gender balance and equity are therefore in our collective interest. The burden of being the accredited breadwinner is the reason many of our youth die on the desert in search of greener pastures. Today, the worth of many men is determined by their wealth. Women are rarely suspected of armed robbery unless they are caught in the act.

Hard-core feminists and those interested in making even their most positive advocacies look evil should not get in the way of the discussion and progress being made with poorly managed emotions.

Beyond that, we cannot treat the feminist as the evil that is going to break families and disentangle the unit. The fact that most women put up with abuse doesn’t mean all was well before the movement.

They came with the objective to speak against the ills of society that limits women: the more we attack them, the more we give them no choice than to find strength in their collective, lose track of the good cause and become more political.

The insult and attack on their personalities are needless. They don’t need to be perfect to push this agenda, they don’t need to be married to talk about marriage. At the end of the day, every married woman should look at their individual cases and chose what’s best for them. Calling feminist frustrated singles, calling them bitter and making them appear as though they hate the family life is not only myopic but a clear sign of how people are opposed to changes that empower the other.

As long as marriage is forced on women, as long as a successful woman is seen to have sexed her way to the top, as long as the measure of a woman’s success is marriage regardless of who she’s married to: feminists have their place in our world and we should encourage it.

To the feminists, a sweating man can be cold within, a hungry person can be very rich in the same way, a housewife can yet be independent. Freedom is not forced on people when they think ‘slavery’ as you’d want to call it is good enough. Life is not all about education and career. To some people, taking care of the family is what brings them gratification and means more than owning the world’s riches. If we want women to be happy, let us allow them to choose their own path to happiness.

The awareness is good so that those who don’t like their situation will find ways to deal with it. This must not be forced on people. ‘Freedom is not the only way to happiness: what’s slavery to you might be the best thing to happen to another. The difference is not always about knowledge: some of the smartest women like it the way it is.

To both parties: misquotations, insinuations and inaccurate inferences presented as fact aren’t helping the discussion. A typical case is 'the cooking' brouhaha.

At the end of it all, couples should decide how they want to live: God is not against that. The guiding principle should be that everyone is happy, if sad: it shouldn’t be down to what’s between their legs.

We must seek the right of both genders in the knowledge that it is for the good of both the man and the woman. In the end, it boils down to love and understanding what it means to love. You won't watch a partner go through hell trying to meet your collective or singular need. Feminism is about practicing real love at home that gives equal respect to both parties. Remember: don't resist change, manage it you can win resisting change temporarily but change will win eventually.

Copy: pepperdem, pamperdem, sugardem, saltdem gingerdem and all of dem.

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