Feminism, by and large brings to the fort concerns we should all distress ourselves with, amongst other things. Like all other ideologies, it’s not something to be forced down the throats of anyone.
This piece is therefore a suggestion of why it is vital for all of us to be feminists, today. The suggestions herein made, are even more crucial in a year intended to end with general elections. We are a nation far behind time in many aspects, although admittedly to the outside we seem attractive and a place to be aspired to.
There is a lot that needs to be done for us to arrive to a 53-year-old democracy with the maturity and wisdom a nation that old, or young should entail. Perhaps beyond just responding to the question of why we should all (at the very least consider) be (-ing) feminist, or lending ourselves to feminist ideologies and practices, the question is how we should all be feminists. We have already attempted to define the word ‘feminism’. In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, feminism is defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” It is an ideal that speaks to the equality of persons and not the liberation of women at the expense of men. The suggestions herein made are borrowed from other writers, who are referenced and acknowledged.
This piece presents more questions to seemingly straightforward matters, demanding a deeper consideration, beyond acceptance; demanding an analytical interrogation of issues, beyond resignation to the status quo. This introduction takes the deliberate tone of an apology, to sweeten the bitter tastes in the mouths of those most deterred by the use of the word feminism. To lure those who have previously thought the advancement of women’s rights has led to increased rates of divorce and abuse; or
Fewer women at the top
Wangari Maathai, of Kenya once said, “the higher you go the fewer women there are.” Care is taken to not play into the politics of His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi versus Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. These politics although well overdue, are not at the centre of this consideration. This first suggestion is not imploring the public to vie for either.
It is instead an invitation to consider why it has become norm for a President of the country to be a cis-gender man, presumably heterosexual in inclination. Why is it easy to lend our support to a man, instead of carefully molding a woman into the leader Botswana needs to adequately address poverty and not seal it into our everyday existence with systems that appear to widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor. The question is what is the basis of our selection of a leader?
Violence, rape and molestation are too often the victim’s fault
Dineo Pumla Gqola who has written extensively on feminism, when speaking to the networks of oppression in our society says a society has to put on “interpretative lenses accompanies by a refining of the tools used to build the status quo.” She says that exclusion will only lead to failure. Often when rape or sexual assault is considered, the victim or survivor is profiled. This act is embarked on to differentiate between those who need protection and those who should have known better!
This piece would have been incomplete without reference to this in light of the valley of the shadow of death that Botswana is recently becoming for rape women and other marginalised persons, who continue to fear evil, with no state intervention.
Who doesn’t want equality?
In her book, We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, says, “gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we should begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world; a world of happier men and women who are truer to themselves; this is how it happens, we must raise our daughter differently, we must raise our sons differently.” This suggestion refers us back to ourselves as relational beings, and as we relate to each other. Often, people are deterred from injustice by the reference to their family: “what if it was your mum or sister or your daughter?” Usually, it is only then that injustice wears the face of grave unfairness that it is.
So, until we are able to remove ourselves from the existence of others, perhaps we should imagine if our sons and daughters grew up in the Botswana that we are in today. As Maathai who centralised a woman’s body in revolutionary politics said in an interview after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “It’s difficult for me to differentiate whether I am campaigning as a woman or just as a human being trying to ensure everyone gets their rights.” Simply, that is all feminism is, at its heart, a desire to have all access their rights. Is this practical in the current state? If the leadership changes and the structures remain the same, will it change? This stands to be seen. There however needs to be a reduction and even elimination of the tendency to ally leadership with men. The moment we androgynous leadership the sooner we remove this great thorn that leaves women in the shadows of existence, even where glass ceilings are broken. I suppose the question then becomes, as earlier suggested, HOW?