Cambridge dictionary defines feminism as the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.
Also according to Wikipedia Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men and the people who believe and practice this ideology are called feminists.
Gloria Steinem, aptly referred to as the “Mother of Feminism,” led the women’s liberation movements throughout the 60’s and 70’s—and continues to do so today. Co-founder of the feminist themed Ms. Magazine and several female groups that changed the face of feminism including Women’s Action Alliance, National Women’s Political Caucus, Women’s Media Centre and more. All of her efforts led to her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and in 2013 she was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Steinem continues to be a trailblazer for feminism today, most recently with her Viceland series, WOMAN, and post-election action for young girls and women.
However, in recent times the real meaning of feminism has been on the table of discussion due to the new meaning some people who claim to be feminists are giving to it. The word has now morphed into something that at the mention of it causes some form of agitation to both those who believe in it and those who are against it.
Early this year, a self-acclaimed feminist group in Ghana called Pepper Dem Ministries came out advocating that cooking for a man is equal to slavery. According to them, men should also partake in cooking in marriage and as a matter of fact, they are willing to campaign to ensure that men also go to the kitchen.
Again, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian writer interviewed Hillary Clinton few weeks ago and during the conversation, the writer asked Mrs. Clinton why ‘wife’ was the first word she used to describe herself because she was upset seeing that. This particular question generated a lot of debate on social media platforms and responding to some of the comments on her Facebook page this is what she said: “I WAS upset that the Twitter bio of a woman, who is the most accomplished person to run for President of the United States, would begin with ‘wife.’ And considering her personal history, it just didn’t seem to fit. I felt that ‘wife’ was used as an attempt to placate all the men and women who will not vote for a woman unless they are able to see her FIRST in domestic terms”.
Meghan Markle also gave a speech in 2015 at the UN Women Conference in New York where she told a story of how when she was 11years, she saw a commercial for Ivory dish washing liquid in class with the tagline “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans”. Two boys in her class said women belong in the kitchen, and it upset her. Her dad suggested she write letters, so she did. She wrote to the most powerful women she knew — Clinton, “Nick News” host Linda Ellerbee and attorney Gloria Allred — and she also wrote to the parent company responsible for the ad, Procter & Gamble. Markle received letters back from the three women, there was a “Nick News” special and Procter & Gamble soon changed its ad tagline from “Women all over America” to “People all over America.”
Markle said the elimination of gender inequality around the world wasn’t happening fast enough. “Come on, this has to change” she said. “We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.” According to her, feminism in theory is the same as in practice, thus offering women equal opportunities, empowering them to climb higher leadership ladders and help increase their participation in politics. In a recent interview, she admitted being a fortunate woman to have Prince Harry who is also a feminist.
Now the question is does feminism means different thing in different continents? This is because feminists in our part of the world are literally fighting for a different agenda altogether. To most of them, it’s about anger, hatred and resentment towards men which may be fuelled by childhood trauma, abuse or failed marriages / relationships. In addition, the focus of most of them is fighting for superiority in their various homes instead of fighting for equity and equality. An example is in a disquieting case regarding a career woman cooking for the husband as slavery. Are there feminists in Ghana or just female sexists? Do we as people understand the underlying concept of feminism? Is fighting gender lines in our domestic affairs the solution for women to make a difference in this man’s world or that’s a misplaced priority?
Prior to Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding that’s after their engagement, there were a lot of opinions from people across the globe most especially from “feminists” on social media who thought their fellow feminist Meghan will not give up on her career, dreams and all that she stands for just marriage but during and after the spectacular royal wedding, these same feminists made a swift turn that Meghan gave up on everything for tradition. What they forgot is Africans and Ghanaians in particular also have tradition. Others also said, she gave up everything to marry a powerful Prince to become Duchess of Sussex not one poor man.
Does this means feminism ends where wealth, power and high class reputation begins?
There are so many questions, misinformation and double standards about how mainstream third wave “feminists” are practising and explaining the concept so the earlier there is proper education on feminism, who a feminist is and what the person stands for the better for this generation.
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