The beauty of feminism lies in its rejection of gender stereotypes

Feminism symbol.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • I used to be afraid of the label, but not anymore. My researcher in later years, in my early 30s, introduced me to unapologetic feminists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Susan B. Anthony and I started wearing and owning the label proudly.
  • The feminist lens through which I see everything has made me a better human being; overall, a feminist, in the words of Ms Adichie, is a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. And who would not want that?

If feminism were a matter of flipping a switch, then it would have been all lights out for me in 2008 when I ran a rather pompously titled blog.

I called it African Woman Talking, where I proclaimed that I was the voice of African women on matters closest to their hearts. I switched it (my brand of feminism represented in my blog) off almost as soon as my initial posts went up.

I was only 25, and the realities of the world had yet to taint my imagination. The world was my oyster. Still, the idea is as ridiculous now as it was 14 years ago. My wake-up call and the thing that forced me to press the delete forever button was a comment from a friend.

“I have read your blog, and you seem to have a flair for language. But why do you hate men so much?”

I had no response, for the articles I had written crucified me. I hated that anyone would imagine I hated men. I loved men and dreamt of starting a family with one someday.

It was not until years later that I found a label for my burning desire for gender justice, which led me to pen a series of angry articles targeted against men. And that label was feminist.

Still, I struggled with the word “feminist” when someone used it to describe me, for, like many Kenyans, I associated it with man-hating and bashing.

The word “feminist” has been used to disparage women who dare speak up against gender injustice.

We are often told that we are “too much” (Too much of what? You may ask. They never clarify), “too angry, bitter divorcees, too aggressive”, among other unpalatable words and choice phrases, even if the topic at hand could benefit from a gender justice perspective.

No longer afraid

I used to be afraid of the label, but not anymore. My researcher in later years, in my early 30s, introduced me to unapologetic feminists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Susan B. Anthony and I started wearing and owning the label proudly.

The feminist lens through which I see everything has made me a better human being; overall, a feminist, in the words of Ms Adichie, is a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. And who would not want that?

My quest for gender justice that drove me to start a blog titled ‘African Woman Talking’ has remained the touchstone from which my ideas and resolve to stay a staunch feminist evangelist spring.

The beauty of feminism is that it rejects the gender stereotypes forced on men and women, leaving the world a freer and better place. And if this sounds too idealist, it’s because that’s the nirvana of feminism.

Meanwhile, we will continue to channel our anger in the right direction and change the world by breaking one stereotype at a time. The first stereotype is about the word “feminist”.

As Ms Adichie rightly said, we should all be feminists.

Ms Oneya writes on gender and social topics. @FaithOneya; [email protected]

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