Feminism, which I haven't focused on for a while now, has butted back into my life quite insistently this month of May. Through a series of events I found myself writing for a Danish readership about being it, and listening to a Franco-Tanzanian panel discussion about it. I was way overdue for a refresher.
In the event, two of my most stubbornly difficult questions got answered. Feminism isn't a Western invention or imposition, and Africans who identify with this ideology (whether or not they call themselves the F-word) do so of their own accord. No brainwashing required. I have been stuck in this feminism-hostile place for so long that I was beginning to lose perspective, and buying into the 'it's because you are different' poop that was used to explain it all away. Nope, feminists are made everyday in varying flavors and strengths across the gender spectrum, so there. We're bog-standard, boringly common folk and there's probably one sitting right next to you right now. :)
Then that question, that question that just burns my ass everytime I hear it:
"“why are women their own worst enemies?” It is time to send this idea to a fiery death. This question is an insidious little mental parasite that effectively shifts the blame to the victim.
Women aren't their own worst enemies, we are simply operating in the competitive hierarchies of patriarchy. We face a considerable number of handicaps in this competition, barring us from obtaining resources in our own right. This is the perfect environment in which to cultivate the idea that men are a commodity to be used.
Women can, and do, use men to compete for land, for resources, wealth, power and prestige. We compete with each other for them- this is what we are socialized to do from childhood. Girls are groomed to take their place in these competitions with subtle weaponry, as they are denied the conventional male ones of privilege and violence."
In other words: we're not unicorns, we're just people. But I get how it can be confusing to an observer who isn't attuned. Women do tend to collaborate more and share their emotions and blah blah blah- society's shock absorbers and nurturers and all that jazz. It's a role, we play it. That doesn't mean that women are safe and intrinsically good... but it does imply that people who truly believe that are inexplicably naive.