Feminism; its ingredients not necessarily the definition.

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I hope you are keeping well. Again, do everything you can to stay alive. If you read my last week’s blog post courtesy of one of my housemates Sidney Aburi, you know too well that there was going to be a response to his blog post.

I had every intention to respond to his many questions but then, a dear friend Juliet Kimotho, asked, “Patience, would you allow me to respond to Sidney?” My response was simple, “By all means do.” I let Juliet do it simply because I know Juliet as an enthusiast of all matters of gender equity and equality and your guess is as good as mine, her response is apt!

Juliet is a Communications, Advocacy and Policy Specialist based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has eight years of experience in documenting and coordinating projects on women and youth empowerment. Here goes Juliet’s response to Sidney’s post.

Last week Patience’s self-proclaimed best housemate somewhere in Cardiff City; Sidney Aburi raised some interesting questions about the most misconstrued subject in the world, at least in my own eyes, FEMINISM.

Interestingly, as I write this, online entertainment sites are awash on Jada Pinkett’s confession on her famous Red Table Talk show to her husband Will Smith and the rest of us about an ‘entanglement‘ she had with renowned eye candy musician August Alsina some years back. Never mind Will sentimentally reaffirms that they had amicably separated when the ‘entanglement took place. I know you are probably wondering where the rubber meets the road with Jada’s entanglement confession and my writing about feminism.

I kid you not, I am not about to take you through a cliché of analysis. You see…there is something about a woman with power that irks a significant number of people in the society. Never mind the contexts…there just seem to be an overarching perspective about who and what a woman should be, behave like or present themselves to be. I sometimes wish Artificial Intelligence experts can think about meshing societal perspectives about a woman with technology and invent an ideal societal woman robot. I bet we could convert many patriarchs to feminists just by watching the kind of control women have to withstand.

Photo by Broadimage: Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith during Rihanna’s Diamond Ball, Los Angeles, America

I would like to tag along Sidney and other lukewarm or die-hard anti-feminists…including those who really do not understand feminism but are open to know more. Let’s join this chat room and when done reading this blog post drop your emojis, Gifs and text about this juicy topic. Sidney’s first question was on the definition rather applicable definition of ‘pure’ feminism. My first reaction to the phrase ‘pure feminism’ was ‘oh wow could there be a tainted version that I don’t know about? But then he further explains that pure in this context means the original version of it… #Untempered #uncencored maybe.

Well Sid et all, you are about to get served. In my opinion, there is no fixed definition of feminism; neither is there a monopoly of knowledge on it. It’s like trying to gauge how much equal is equal. Understanding feminism is a learning curve. Here is why… there have been different ideologies and conspiracy theories on feminism. I am equally trying to keep tabs with these new variations. Sometime in November last year, I had an interesting conversation with a theologist who claimed to have sufficient knowledge of feminism. He expounded on his understanding of three categories of feminism: liberal, radical and socialist. He claimed radical feminist are narcissistic, thinking they are the best thing that happened to the world losing sight of the bonafide existence of the other sex. Then some liberal feminists believe that while women and girls are entitled to the same opportunities as men, they recognize the presence and capabilities of the other sex.  Lastly, the socialist feminist in his understanding believes that women are oppressed because capitalism skews the system that way hence the best approach just gets rid of it and build a universally accepted way of treating women. I don’t even think he convinced me with all this, but I could pick a few ingredients of his understanding of feminism. And the truth is, the ingredients are positively or negatively construed.

And there is more… Chimamanda Ngozi and Michelle Obama might have swept some souls in associating feminism with girls and women ability to be limitless, fully conscious of their rights, and unapologetically capable of taking on any dissenting opinion on their limits. In this chatroom, I advise you the reader not to strive to side with a variety of definitions of feminism but to understand the composition of it because the ingredients that stitch feminism together are the accurate depiction of how the world should identify with a woman.

Feminism in my understanding comprises of the following ingredients: recognizing abilities, discovering potential, accommodating but not necessarily compromising dissenting voices, availing space, building a movement, role modelling and respect for biological differentiation with the acknowledgement that it is not an incentive for role alignment. Sidney’s second question is on what success looks like in a feminist world. Simple…it’s when all the above ingredients have been socially accepted. And yes, we need to unlearn the conventional way society conditions women on their roles, expected behaviour and relationship with others. Because the traditional way is elusive, tainting, disparaging of a woman’s real identity and capacity. 

For you to understand feminism you need to pick the different ingredients like pebbles in an ocean… the deeper you walk inside the sea, the more likely you are to pick smoother, lighter, darker, sharper and shapeless types of pebbles. Those pebbles you like, you are likely to pocket them and those not appealing, dump them back to the ocean. What is important is that you are assembling a wealth of practical and applicable knowledge on what feminism is or should look like. Ultimately, you will become conscious of relating to the ingredients mentioned above and probably build a better relationship with women. You might even recruit more oppressors and rebels along the way. 

Thank you Juliet for your swift response. There is still a chance for someone else who has a similar or contrary opinion. I am happy to give you a chance to share your thoughts next Monday. Dr. Pamela Njuguna will have an opportunity to write her blog post too, but in the meantime, she notes its important for her to say this;

Dr Andisa Lugaliki, remember her name. A gynaecologist. I didn’t know her personally but she seemed like a wonderful person based on her friends and colleagues’ tributes. She was passionate, dedicated, conscientious and vivacious, but most all she was a frontline worker. She was a soldier. Soldiers fight for those they defend, some they know and love and those they don’t know. Let us remember her because she was the first doctor to die in this war against COVID-19. This really hit home.

Before this, we all asked questions; 

Do you know someone who has had COVID ? Do you know someone who knows someone who has had COVID?

Do you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has had COVID?

My answer now is yes, yes and yes.

I miss precedented times. I miss the steady drone of certainty of days at work or the library. I know these days will return but for now, we have a pandemic to fight. Wash your hands. Physical distancing. Wear a mask. Stay safe.

#IAmChevening #MyCheveningJourney

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Patience Nyange

I believe in a just society and I am a strong believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson words: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

2 thoughts on “Feminism; its ingredients not necessarily the definition.

  • 13th July 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Such a great response by Juliet. I am definitely quoting her in future on what feminism comprises because I couldn’t agree more!

    • 13th July 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Well put.
      I liked her response all the way.
      Plus, it is always interesting to read other people’s perspectives.

      I realised I had nothing useful to add. She’s said it all.

      I wonder what young people like you have to say concerning this topic.


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