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[The Concourse] Feminism in Nigeria: A guest in strange land

Since Beijing conference in 1989, the wave of feminism has known no borders. Women across the globe have taken their emancipation crusade to the north pole.

In its simplest definition, feminism means a social theory or political movement which argues that all legal, social, and religious (and if possible, biological) restrictions on women must be removed in order to bring about equality of the sexes in all aspects of public and private life.

They have like the true children of Eve been battling to bring an end to the ‘man’s world’ and enthrone the ‘woman’s world.’

At that conference, Mother (now saint) Teresa of Calcutta advised her fellow women: “Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, which is the essence of being a woman.”

But naysayers in the modern world wouldn’t heed.

Pope John Paul II’s address to the same conference read: “…Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary.”

Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary manner.

When the Christian holy  Book of Genesis spoke of “help” with respect to woman status, it was not referring merely to the “act”, but more importantly  to “being”. Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological standpoint.

The saintly Pope rounded off his message saying: “it is only through the duality of the “masculine” and the “feminine” that the “human” finds full realization.”

About a year and three months ago, a popular Pastor, Chris Oyakhilome came under verbal attack and uncensored criticism by frontline Nigeria feminists over a statement he made in his preaching saying that women were not in the original plan of God. And that they were created after God have seen that man was lonely and in need of a help mate.

Though, the verdict of Pastor Chris’ preaching on the controversial topic may be theologically unsound, the extremity of the venomous attacks from these women were unexamplary too.

That type of message is capable of driving these daughters of Eve wild into pushing for unconventional agenda.

The truth is that it’s unfair to tell a fellow human being that she was a miscellaneous product of her maker or a bye-product of chance and random thoughts.

The assertion by the Pastor that “women were not in the original plan of God ” is nothing but saying God didn’t know that man would be lonely and ‘helpless’ until after creation.

He inadvertently implied that God did not anticipate the incompleteness of man until after he had created him. He indirectly questioned the omniscience of God.

Yet Christians believe (and rightly too) that their God is a  perfect and an all-knowing Being, capable of everything (conceivable and inconceivable). So he must have placed woman in his design. No one is a product of chance.

However, the problem with feminism is its inability to make the right argument.

The right argument is not appealing to bible or anthropology to prove gender equality. That is a wrong argument.

The right disposition should be accepting the uniqueness of each gender in their ontological configuration. Here equity becomes more important than equality, and mutuality would be emphasized over superiority.

Women will strive to complement instead of compete with men. And men (especially the masochists) will have to tame their unbridled pride that makes them superimpose their unchecked influence over women. Thus gender discrimination will die a natural death.

The pages of human history were annotated by roll call of women of character who shaped the fate and face of the world. Same goes for men.

“We are all gifted and unique in our own different ways,” singer Tuface Idibia would allude. Chroniclers of human civilization have always maintained that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees then it would live its whole life believing to be a failure.

The peculiarity of our situation is that feminists in this part of the world tend to close their ears against the sound wave of reason. Those who advocate for more women inclusion in governance don’t preach meritocracy or competency. They are only after gender equality instead of equity.

The protesters during the COZA pastor and Dakolo’s wife’s saga were more inclined to the dethronement of male dominated church hierarchy than fight the despicable incidence of rape or sexual immorality in general.

The same way most European elites who fight for women ordination to priesthood do so not with revolutionary mindset but for emancipatory or sympathetic motives.

We should learn to pursue issues that affects humanity with rationality not emotion. We should live by principles not feelings. Mother nature blesses equity over equality with regards to human cosmology. And that should serve the basic principle.

Globally, feminism portends the danger of bilaterally keeping humanity divided along gender lines. But in Africa it tends to do more harm. Because our prehistoric culture supports the conviction that man is the head of the woman, it would be harder for African feminism to thrive without inflicting a deep-seated wound in the soul of its advocates.

Much as all demeaning dispositions against womanhood (be it social or religious) are despicable and stand condemned by all right-thinking humans, we should abhor all forms of antagonistic crusade aimed at turning women into tyrants in the name of self-emancipation.

Most avowed protagonists of feminism don’t even route for equality more than they do for total domination. Their unpublished mission statement was that since creation, man had been dominating the planet and it’s time for a revolution that will guarantee a reciprocal shift to their own side.

It may seem laughable. But that is the thematic message of their struggle.

They forgot that the likes of Ladi Kwali, Ransom Kuti, Queen Amina, Chinyere Onyenucheya, Margaret Ekpo, Dora Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-iweala, Agbani Darego, Onyeka Onwenu, Chioma Ajunwa, etc who in their respective ways and careers, decorated Nigeria’s image on the world map did it without competing with men or fighting to dominate them.

It is therefore commendable that we live to uphold human equality and gender equity over the insatiable appetite for equality.

May daylight spare us!

Eze Jude O.

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