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Why Aren’t More African Men Feminists?

Slightly over a week ago (week ago, week ago…) TED hosted it’s #TEDWOMEN conference in Monterey, California. Over 40 speakers, both female and male discussed copious topics across the board -Ebola, Education, Abortion, Climate Change etc.

At any Womens’ conference, it is inevitable that a particular subject will come up – Gender Inequality. What can we do and are we doing about gender inequality? This subject is one that I care fiercely for. I am a feminist. As far as I’m concerned you too, whatever genitalia you possess, should be a feminist. Whilst I was at Roedean School, the first person I ever heard speak passionately about being a feminist was a male teacher –Mr Thompson.Aged 16, I’ll never forget his inspiring tirade about feminism having nothing to do with being a bra burning butch lesbian in overalls with unshaven underarms. It puzzles me that in the year 2015 I don’t know many African men who don’t shrivel up with discomfort or find it awkward or impossible to identify with, when the topic comes up. Many shut down any discourse with puerile jokes that only serve to expose their ignorance. I’m calling out African men in particular because issues such as female genital mutilation, human trafficking and honour killings and certain injustices that are uniquely suffered by women, are much closer to home for them.

As former US President Jimmy Carter proudly stated

“Yes, of course I consider myself a feminist…If a feminist is someone who believes that women should not be persecuted and women should have equal rights, then all men ought to be feminists.”

 I was thrilled to discover that President Carter spoke a length, at the TEDWOMEN conference last week, about gender equality. He said that the mistreatment of women and girls is the number one abuse of human rights on earth. He gives 3 key reasons for this. Below is his third reason;

“In general, men don’t give a damn, …The average man might say, ‘I’m against the abuse of women and girls, but quietly accept the privileged position that they occupy. So, what can be done? Speak up…The best thing that we can do today is for women in powerful nations, like this one, who have influence and freedom of speech to take the responsibility to be more forceful and demanding.”

Although Mauritius now has its first female President – Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and there’s a decent chance of Hilary Clinton being the next President of the United States, women still somehow have a global cultural predisposition towards accepting second place. Lets face the fact for a lot of people, feminism is not much more nuanced than singing Beyonce’s flawless. In Nigeria, gender inequality is welcomed in and offered the comfiest armchair in the living room. We accept its glaring presence as normality.

As humans, we all should be affected and involved in trying to rectify the injustices our different groups suffer. We shouldn’t wait for our own loved ones to be affected or for an issue to affect our gender, in order to care.

 

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