I know they think I’m weird. They call me a Feminist, and then wonder if there is even such a thing as a Male Feminist. And so they make light of my masculinity, going short of calling me a woman. But I am not a woman; I just dearly love women. Moreover, I am by every standard male and masculine. But one thing I will never be is chauvinistic. I cherish the fact that a woman’s vagina birthed me. And in the same vein, I hold the belief that everyone deserves the right to be respectfully treated at all times, no matter whether it is a penis or a vagina that they have in between their legs.
Growing up as a little boy, I was always in awe of women. I always knew that there is something very special about them; something almost beyond human. Their resilience to life’s hurdles amazed me and inspired me. And so did their beauty, which up till date continues to mesmerize me by the way. But with every passing day ever since my childhood days, I came to realize that these beautiful set of humans called women aren’t always treated with as much justice as they deserved. Being female in our clime (African traditions) and indeed elsewhere can be synonymous with disadvantages. Women are short-changed at every level and aspect of life. And so I realised earlier on that this injustice has to be called out, repudiated and denounced. This is so important, because short-changing our women simply amounts to short-changing the whole of humanity. And this isn’t what we truly want for ourselves; is it?
As I have become grown with my worldviews expanded, I have come to become a total advocate/supporter of feminism. It is a good thing to be, because having availed myself the opportunity to learn about the long history of female oppression and the struggles that led to breaking down most of the glass ceilings, I knew right away that I had to become a part of the movement- the movement to break down the rest of the glass ceilings that is. Moreover, the truth is that I myself have been negatively impacted by the injustice called gender bias. My paternal grandmother was of course female. And even though I never met her, I knew the story of her life. She was a woman short-changed and disadvantaged by her own father, maybe not purposefully, but because it was what the culture specified. You see, she was the first child of a local Igbo Chief. Her father had the resources to put her through school just like he did her younger brother. But she never got that opportunity because it was uncultured for a young girl to go to school when she ought to be married and “tending her husband and children”. Consequently, my paternal granny never got the most basic education. This was unlike her brother who acquired a masters degree back in the 1960s. To cut this story short, my grandma, who married a local farmer, died as an impoverished farmer, whereas her brother became one of the most influential men of his time. The difference between them was that one got the opportunity to thrive whereas the other was denied that same opportunity…just because she was female.
The decision to treat women and girls with respect does not do any harm. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case when women’s rights are violated and abused by culture and maybe legislation. I therefore use this medium to call on every well-meaning man to embrace gender-equality; embrace humanity. Respect and empower women, because s it is often said, the rest of humanity succeeds and thrives when women succeed and thrive.
-Emmanuel Abara Benson