My neighbors are all women. And they are all feminists. Or at least they call themselves so. Whichever the case, their conversations swirl around the men in their lives(or lack thereof), the poor taste in boyfriends a particular non-feminist friend of theirs has, and generally the bold choices they’ve made(concerning men), and the amazing life they envision for themselves, a life totally men-free.
For a long time, I have fancied labelling myself a feminist, but I did not know that to be a feminist is to declare war upon men. I did not know it is a battle of the genders. All this while, I thought feminism is about creating an environment where both men and women can co-exist peacefully and happily, each party regarding the other with respect. And for a long time I have believed that encouraging girl-child education, allowing women to have careers, run for public offices and have an opinion have all been to create such an environment.
I never knew it is spending all your time talking about men, plotting things you can do to bring the men in your lives down, inventing new ways to disrespect them, and Laughing Out Loud every time they trip and fall.
I have witnessed instances where women shout at matatu touts, waiters, bartenders for no worthy reason, and in between their harangue, they will mention that they are a woman and therefore should be treated with respect. I get confused. I don’t think respect should be a gift of gender, that if you are a woman then you are entitled to it, but should be something awarded to all of us, men and women, who’ve earned it.
My brother often cooks, cleans and does the laundry in my mother’s house. He also changes the light bulbs, and fixes the radio and connects the TV to whatever devices necessary. If I am around, I will cook as he cleans, or vice versa. He will still connect for me the TV to the laptop or whatever it is I want. I will not tell him, ‘Mike, could you connect this for me?’ and he tells me, ‘But I’m a man and I cooked, you should be able to do that!’ Because my brother doesn’t think it is a competition. He doesn’t believe men and women are at war. He probably doesn’t even know who a feminist is. If I want him to teach me matters electronics, he will! If he wants me to teach him how to roll chapatis, I will! On other days, I will gladly spend the whole day in the kitchen and let the boys play PlayStation. We are not at war. We are not baying for each other’s blood.
You know, maybe I am wrong. Maybe feminism is men and women hanging on each other’s neck, each trying to prove who can do it better. Maybe I didn’t read the constitution right.
But I’d rather be wrong than be the kind of right I see out here.
“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman”- Jane Galvin.