Why can’t feminism be a way of life? Why must it always be put under the spot light and questioned for the reasons of its existence. This is more so during this time as the world celebrates (or commemorates?) the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
Last week Monday marked the beginning of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.It was the International Day for Elimination of violence against women. So I thought I would do my part my airing my views on certain issues and hopefully get a message out there. I have heard many people saying that the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is an issue for the feminists. But what does that even mean? Who are these feminists who must deal with an issue that one way or the other affects a large number of our population?
“The term feminism is generally understood to mean a commitment to equal treatment and equality for women” (Rothman, 2005).The term feminism means different things to different people. Some believe or pretend to believe that feminists hate men, and their way of life goes against nature because they believe the world can do without men. Others have gone as far as labeling all feminists as lesbians. Someone once suggested that the origins of feminism come from a group of women that wanted to challenge God and creation and instead of having the Holy Trinity being made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit should removed and replaced by a woman (Mary, mother of Jesus) so that women could represented even on Holy grounds. I personally cannot subscribe to such a school of thought because that’s a bit extreme. I mean wanting to change the face of religion and Christianity just for the sake of a movement, which as my grandmother would say ”engasoze ikungenise ezulwini”
I, however, did question what this concept of feminism actually means, and like every other social issue being debated about, is very dynamic and as such cannot have one “correct” or sufficient response. I will share one though which I found to be simple and interesting. When asked what the word feminism means, my colleague Gwen said: “ For me this has always meant being considered an equal in society. Not in the sense that I can carry the 50kg my male counterpart can but in the sense that despite whatever physical differences we might have, we are ultimately both equal and both deserve an equal opportunity in life.” I suppose the main reason I considered this a satisfactory response was because I acknowledge the fact that men and women are not the same, especially in strength because as it is my brother who is 5 years my junior is much stronger than I am, but that does not mean my parents should then provide a much better quality of education (for example).
So now back to my question. Why must feminism be a debate? Well precisely because its such a dynamic issue, understood so differently by people. So its then difficult to introduce a lifestyle into society or at least make it a norm, if the people who subscribe to it do not really understand the concept themselves. So in essence what I’m saying is, before we label ourselves or other people feminists, take time to really think about what it means. Honestly I think this concept is quite simple, but I acknowledge that for others its not so simple.