OF FEMINISM AND RADICALISM
The alignment of an individual, a woman in most cases, with feministic beliefs provokes scathing remarks from society in general. I perceive this to be a result of an acute ignorance of what feminism entails-by society in general. Proudly armed with this unchecked perception I have set out to unpack what I believe is the real feminism and what I believe is misunderstood by the populace, an angle of feminism I personally find ugly and scandalous which might have caused some of us to ‘arm brush’ ourselves and paint feminism with the wrong colour.
Feminism has many definitions, which might sound different yet are the same. However I will sum up feminism to mean advocating or supporting the rights of women in the social, economic and political fronts. Feminism seeks gender equality on critical issues. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles and behaviours, what defines womanhood and what defines manhood. Here we refer to equality on issues to do with property entitlement; voting-it addresses domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault. Gender should not be mistaken to mean women. Gender equality seeks to address issues to do with both the girl and boy child. This feministic stance is ideal as it has sought to counter the gender disparities that have been in our society, it does not seek to override or walk over the men so as to stand out on, but aims for a side by side approach. Feminists taking this route have a success story today; the woman has been given a lot of opportunities, education, political representation, economic empowerment among others: what is left is for her to fully utilize them. For this reason I celebrate.
Then we have the ugly radical feminism. I might receive a backlash from feminists for this but sometimes when I look at society I think patriarchy might just be the way to go and by patriarchy I mean the distribution of hierarchy in the private sphere (the home). Radical feminists seek to abolish patriarchy, demand equality in the private sphere. It means mother and father evenly distribute the housework, child nurturing and this phenomena places an emphasis on ‘sexual liberties’. It says women should govern men and women and marriage is described as a ‘mere’ vehicle of conscious male intent. This feminism I find dim. It is this radical feminism that society thinks is the actual feminism.
Both ‘types’ of feminism emerged from the west and in Zimbabwe infiltrated because of colonialism. One cannot deny the fact that the first type has been good for our society. Parents now accord equal opportunities to their sons and daughters because they know what this one can do the other can. Most men and women in Zimbabwe I believe would also happily identify with this first wave of feminism. This is because the critical issues are dealt with, economic and political empowerment. Betty Makoni has said, “Feminism is not about gender equality but right entitlements…” Thus said would it not be wiser for the world to stay away from power distribution of power in people’s marital unions? Why not the two who decided they love each other decide whether there will be two heads or one head and a neck.
Women in particular who want to identify with radicalism should pay attention to what married feminists and gender activists have to say. Most are successful career women, wives and mothers and for me these are the ideal feminists for they exude the strength of women. Not to exclude the unmarried (never have been) feminist but to warn her not to make elaborate remarks about a marriage she does not know about and influence the minds of young girls and boys with conceited, dim ideologies. I stand to be corrected but believe feminism in Zimbabwe is not overstated as we would like to believe and we as a nation should stay away from doing so because in the next ten years we might find ourselves trying to re-empower the boy child.