Outspoken

OUTSPOKEN: Eccentric Yoruba Talks About Feminism

   

Hello, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
Hi! I’m Cosmic  Yoruba, aka Eccentric Yoruba, a Nigeria freelance writer and blogger  currently based in London.

What does being a feminist mean to you?
Being a feminist is a way of life that involves supporting, caring for and encouraging the efforts of women especially those who are Black, African, religious and/or sexual minorities.

Does being a feminist have any influence on your daily life?
This links back to my answer above. I usually don’t wake up thinking that “I’ll be feminist today”, my feminism is part and parcel of my daily life as my reactions to situations I encounter during the course of any day are almost always influenced by feminist ideals.

Who is not a feminist?
Anyone who hates women (consciously or not), is against the progress and success of women, and who chooses to belittle women’s search for equality.

Some women support gender equality but say they are not feminists. How does that work?
Feminist is a label that a woman can choose to identify with. There are several women openly campaign for gender equality and yet do not identify as feminists. Especially in the West where mainstream feminism can exclude women based on race, class, sexual preference, religion etc. It works because feminism sometimes struggles to be intersectional, and any woman can choose to identify as she pleases.

What has bra burning got to do with feminism? Are we trying to deny our biological differences?
Nothing. Bra burning is limited to feminist movements in the US dating in the 1970s. I am a Nigeria woman who draws my feminism from African women like Ama Ata Aidoo, Bessie Head, Flora Nwapa, Nawal el Sadawi, Fatima Mernissi…as well as African American feminists like Alice Walker and bell hooks. Regardless bra burning doesn’t necessarily mean a denial of biological differences. I am not sure how bras are entwined with biological differences considering that women have not always necessarily worn them.

Are there male feminists?
No. There can be male feminist allies but for men to coopt the feminist title is a no-no. Feminism creates a safe space for women living under oppressive systems, while the support of men can be appreciated, men are guests, allies because they’ll never know firsthand how and why women need gender equality.

I have heard some men saying feminism doesn’t preach sameness. Does it say women are more worthy than men?
I tend not to listen to what most men have to say about feminism. In cultures where women have been told they are unworthy or less from birth, I’m not going to argue against women viewing themselves as more worthy than men as a form of self-acceptance. I believe men who, consciously or not, are aware of some of the privileges they enjoy find it threatening that women ask for the same. This presents a similar picture to that of white people who believe that should Black people become a powerful majority, whites would be oppressed based on the colour of their skin. This is ridiculous as marginalised people are mostly concerned with safeguarding their rights *now* as opposed to plotting on how to oppress others.

Are feminism ideals in conflict with marriage?
The way marriage is presented to me as a Nigerian woman does make it seem anti-feminist, or at the very least against the progress of women outside the roles of mother and wife. Yet my answer to this will be not necessarily, as conflict will depend on what one’s idea of marriage is.

Some have argued that the work of feminism is done. What do you think about that?
The work of feminism will never be done as long as women still have to write lengthy articles and engage in neverending debates on the importance of feminism today. So women can drive cars, become government officials and are apparently “free” yet people still find it easy to fault women who have been sexually assaulted. In Nigeria, the whole nation can be moved at the brutal murder of young men, however morbid amusement is found in the sexual assault and gang rape of women because “what took her there in the first place?”

To suggest that the work of feminism is done, is nonsense. It will never be done until *all* women have equal rights and do not have to worry about been dehumanised, assaulted or killed for simply being women.

What do you think is the greatest misconception about Feminists
That feminists want to be men or superior to men. When active feminists focus their attention on uplifting women and could care less about wanting to be men.

That feminism is “unAfrican”. This is ridiculous for several reasons, our ancestors viewed gender and sex in completely different ways, sometimes completely opposite from how we view sex and gender today.

That African women don’t need feminism because our cultures are good enough. This fails to take into regard how much African cultures have changed and paints a perfect image of an African past that I like to call “Afritopia”.

What advice do you have for someone who believes in women’s right is afraid of being labelled a feminist?
Don’t identify as feminist if you are not comfortable with it. You as someone who believes in women’s rights, have a choice in not accepting other people’s labels on you. While it will be nice to boldly call yourself a feminist in, especially if you’re African, in order to dispel the myths that surround this label, do not do what you find uncomfortable.

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