The other day I asked a colleague of mine if she considers herself a feminist, because she does almost the same work as I do (gender equality and women’s rights promotion) and she speaks passionately about equality between women and men. First she laughed really hard, then she said no. Was I shocked or confused? No. This is not the first time I have heard people say that. So this led me to wonder, why are some people reluctant to call themselves feminists?
Feminism, according to Wikipedia – which might not be a very trusted source, but heck it’s the first thing that Google brings you. Oh Google, what did people do before you came? Anyway, back to feminism, it is a collection of movements and ideologies (…) which advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
One common stereotype and misunderstanding about feminism I’ve heard is that women want to have more rights than men. Oya. Feminism simply says, if you can go out and have a few drinks with your friends, why can’t I do it too?
Feminists hate men. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this I’d be rich. Seriously rich. So how do I explain this? I am married. To a man. That I love very much. Naff said.
When it comes to explaining feminism in a society like Rwanda, generally people understand it as an imported, copied and pasted concept from Europe and America. But that’s not the case. Many African and Rwandan feminists for that matter are increasingly defining the concept in their own way. They are also living it in their own way. The African way, the Rwandan way.
Feminism is misunderstood for sure. Even some of the most liberal and open-minded people I know don’t want to be called feminists even though they ARE feminists. So to me it’s not about a name or association, it’s about the belief and the action. My favourite quote about feminism is “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” – it is self explanatory.
But at the end of the day if you don’t take time to really understand what something means or is, you are bound to interpret it in your own way. You are bound to be wrong. And mislead people along the way.
So a little learning, even about things that you don’t understand at all isn’t bad. After all “Learning Never Exhausts the Mind” – Leornardo da Vinci.