Sunday, 27 April 2014

Bills, Bills, Bills.

In case you didn't know, I identify as a feminist. (These days I'm leaning towards womanism because I think it might speak a bit better to my experience as a Black female, but that's another post entirely). For me, it is always interesting to talk about feminism, even though I'll admit I haven't quite mastered the art of detaching my emotions from the conversation, because it is always interesting to hear the many skewed (albeit sometimes understandably so) perceptions that people have of feminism.

I was out to dinner with my boyfriend and a small group of friends, and inevitably the issue of my relatively recent conversion to the feminist religion came up. A girlfriend stated that she had no use for feminism as she had no desire for equality with men, because men and women are simply not equal. Someone else mentioned to my partner that dating feminists must be cheaper than dating 'regular women', because they (we?) always insist on going Dutch, to which we both laughed and established; he always pays for dinner. The outcry was instantaneous and loud, and the general consensus was that I wasn't doing feminism right.

I'm not sure how the 'feminists want to be men/do what men do' argument gained such currency, but in my experience it is second only in popularity to the 'feminists hate men' argument. If I had a kobo for every time the 'feminists, who pays the bills on your dates?' question has come up on my twitter feed, I'd be earning at least minimum wage every month for simply existing. I find it interesting how, when oppression begins to be discussed, the most common form of derailment is to reduce the issue from an institutional, systemic problem, and make it about individuals. Discuss racism and white supremacy, and someone is sure to argue that 'not all white people...'; discuss sexism and patriarchy, and someone is sure to say you hate men (usually because they're certain you must be incredibly unattractive to them).

I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating: feminism isn't about men. Nor is it about rejecting traditional gender roles or refusing chivalry.  To borrow a quote from Minna Salami, "feminism is not simply about being an independent or successful woman. It is about recognizing and taking a critical engagement with patriarchal structures that oppress women..."

Feminism is about recognizing that women almost always draw the shortest straw, pointing out the instances where this happens, and doing what we can to rectify the situation in those instances.  We earn much less money for doing the same (and in some cases, like African women farmers, even more) work than men. We are less educated, abused more, and denied more opportunities than boys. We die younger, bear more of the burden of raising a family, and are always, always reminded, that we are less important. Don't believe me? Just look around you. The evidence is everywhere.

So, in the light of all this, should anyone in all seriousness be able to tie the validity of feminism to who pays for a dinner date? I think not.


  1. Feminism is so broad - because the issues that affect women are broad. I think "traditional gender roles" are sometimes a function of patriarchy. But as long as a woman is conscious and choosing, you cant say anything against that.

    As for trivialising issues, it's a defence mechanism. The brain uses it to protect our deepest held beliefs :D

    And who pays the bills is a private issue you ain't gotta defend to nobody.


  2. Hi Tim. I have been enjoying my enlightenment on the major theme, u blog is beginning to seriously take, so far, and it has been awesome. I now have an urgency towards its subject matter, especially as it relates to certain constructs, i believe u already know. I remember you disagreeing with the Gore Vidal Quote, hmmm... But then I want to show you something, watch one and read the other, then let me know what you think.


  3. Quick correction, women actually don't die younger than men.
    To play devils advocate - regarding unequal pay, one could argue that the employer is insuring their business against the likely occurrence of maternity in women that doesn't occur In men.
    I just dey play
    Equal opportunity for all :)