The first time I made this statement in public was at Ukamaka Olisakwe’s first book reading in Yaba Lagos Nigeria. You should’ve seen how all eyes were on me like I was some Tupac singing “All Eyes on Me” He he he… The host confessed that he’d never heard such a thing before. Ukamaka professed that I was a radical. I was impressed that I’d surprised them.
But I didn’t say “I am a male-feminist” just to cause surprise. I said it because Ukamaka’s awesome book “Eyes of a Goddess” was partly about a woman who became the man of the house or head of the family. I was a little annoyed that this woman’s husband seemed to lose his manly dignity because his wife began to shoulder the financial responsibilities of their home. I was relieved when after making my controversial statement, a young lady commented saying that a man who loses his dignity for such a reason may not have had any dignity in the first place. Of course, I nodded in agreement.
The reality of modern times is that more & more women are earning more than their male counterparts. Why don’t my fellow men accept that reality & adjust to it? Why do husbands, African husbands in particular, feel inferior whenever their wives gain more economic power? Do we men realise that society has chained women down in poverty & subservience for centuries? Does our sudden inferiority complex suggest that we miss those centuries of male superiority, chauvinism, patriarchy & machismo? Shouldn’t we rather rejoice that women are gaining their long-awaited, well-deserved freedoms?
I’m one of the African men who dance for joy at the freedom of African women. Although there’s one thing which really saddens me. Actually, two things. First is the fact that most people, even some women, misunderstand & demonise feminism. They’d aggressively argue that feminism seeks female domination of men. They’d shout that there’s no room for feminism in Africa. Alas, my African brothers & sisters, fathers & mothers, that is not feminism!
A dictionary defines feminism as a “movement supporting equal rights for women” or “the belief & aim that women should have the same rights & opportunities as men.” The key words are “equal” or “same.” Think about those words. Men & women can be equal though they’re not the same. Boys & girls are born equal & the same except in their private parts. Adam & Eve were equal companions created by the same God.
God! That brings me to the second thing that saddens me. Religion! The question of God’s sex. Is God a He or a She? Or is God androgynous or hermaphrodite? Especially when we consider Christ’s answer to the Sadduccees in Matthew 22 “How wrong you are… For when the dead rise to life, they will be like the angels in heaven & will not marry.” However, it gets confusing when we remember that angels bear masculine names like Michael, Gabriel, Raphel & that Christ addresses God as “Our Father”. Or could that term “Father” be more of a verb than a noun in God’s case?
Then again, the question of creation. Why does the creation account in Genesis 1 contradict that of Genesis 2? Genesis 1 reads “So God created human beings, making them male & female” while Genesis 2 tells of Adam being created first & alone even though God brought male & female animals to be named by him. Is it possible that the writer of Genesis allowed his Jewish agenda of male dominance to bias Genesis 2? It seems to me that God’s original plan was of equality & mutuality.
Yet, even if God cursed the woman saying “…you will still have desire for your husband & HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE”, didn’t Christ come to break the curse on all humanity? Doesn’t Christianity teach that Christ is a blessing & the new Adam? Why then do too many Christians stubbornly cling onto that curse of male dominance? When will African christians finally accept that women are now blessed to be equal with men?
And even if you aren’t a Christian, does your religion place women under a similar curse? Are you sure that the patriarchs of your religion did not distort & still distorting God’s plan of equality & mutuality with their own male biases? Why can’t we all live in mutual respect between both sexes? In equal rights for men & women?
I like the wise Chinese philosophy of balance between light & dark, male & female, yin & yang. I believe in such balance. Not patriarchy! Not matriarchy! Not male superiority or female superiority! I believe that women should be free to live in equality with men.
Quoting from Things Fall Apart:
“The world is large,” said Okonkwo. “I have even heard that in some tribes a man’s children belong to his wife & her family”
“That cannot be,” said Machi. “You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children.”
Sorry Machi! The world has changed. Old things have fallen apart. New things are falling into place. Women are now lying & sitting on top. And men like me are loving & welcoming it.
I am an African male-feminist! Get used to it!