I have heard (and read) people say severally that they do not need feminism because they have equal access to education, access to good jobs, and equal pay. I have heard that feminism is dead and needless, and should be done away with. And, my heart bleeds because most of the people who say these things are the very women for whom feminism was created, those so accustomed to inequality and poor treatment that they see having the bare minimum as living their best lives.
Through the years women have had to fight for their rights, the right to be educated, the right to vote, the right to be viewed as a person, the right to equal opportunities and equal pay. They have struggled for the right to equal representation in government and public institutions, the right to live uninhibited by their sex, to live free from discrimination and poor treatment. Some of these rights have been gotten because women like Emily Davison and Loujain Al-Hathloul lost their lives and freedom. These rights were not handed down to us; they were taken; just as the rights that remain removed from us have to be taken.
You are not a feminist and I am sorry because the systemised oppression women as a whole have faced since the dawn of time has seeped so deep into your subconscious that freedom from them seems like a travesty or a dream so idealistic that it should be hushed and buried lest you raise your hopes too high and face crushing disappointment. I am sorry because you believe that having the most basic rights means to you that you are set for life. I am sorry because your comfort has made you blind to the fact that over half of the world’s female population don’t enjoy the same benefits you do and need feminism to save them.
You do not believe in feminism, and I am sorry because you do not realise that women need the sisterhood of feminism to avoid gender-based violent acts like rape and domestic abuse. Because you do not realise that rape will not end until women cease being viewed as commodities ripe for the taking. Till we start being seen as autonomous people who do not need to have another man with them to reject unwanted advances. As people capable of saying and meaning NO. Until we teach our sons to be proper and well-developed human beings, and this starts with feminism.
You think feminism is needless and I am sorry, in fact, I cry because of the millions of women living in poverty and because you do not realise that we need feminism to close the still-widening gender gap. Because you do not realize that in most of the world, women only have equal access to opportunities and equal pay on paper. Because you do not know that in Nigeria, 60% of the 13.2 million out of school children are female.
You think feminism should be done away with and I am sorry because 12 million female children are married off to adult men every year, then raped and forced to carry foetuses to term and deliver without proper care which has led to the high rate of VVF in Nigeria. Because you do not realise that we need feminism to put an end to child marriage.
You are not a feminist, and I am sorry because 200 million girls and women alive have mutilated genitals and female genital mutilation is a practice that still holds sway in 29 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, and Somalia. Because you do not realise that to end circumcision of the girl child, we need to take proper understanding of the female body to the grassroots and to do that we need feminism.
You think women no longer need feminism and I am sorry because you do not realise or do not care about the fact that a woman’s body is still not hers to have and to control in 2019.
You are not a feminist, and I weep for you and your daughters.
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Emmanuella Nwosisi is a student of Law at the University of Lagos, a Writer, and a Feminist. She is passionate about the rights of women and minority groups. She likes to write about her experiences and what she believes is wrong with the world. In her spare time, she enjoys snacking and a good nap.