Feminism is the second most misunderstood ideology after religious beliefs. When feminism was introduced in mainstream media, it was presented as an ideal that will benefit women kind and eliminate any notions of unfairness based on gender, politically, economically, and socially. Women were meant to be acknowledged as importantly as men and were to be given equal footing where they deserved, despite their being female.
By Jessie Chihota
All sorts of women’s organizations sprang up and women in politics started being taking the public eye. The most powerful state in the world even had a female competing with men for the presidential seat. Brazil, with its high levels of gender based income inequality had a female president.
The television and film industry television had more women in power roles, in soaps and movies. The media went all out with the promotion of feminism.
Feminism brought little positive change, but it brought more confusion to the current scene. The greatest mistake that was overlooked was trying to encourage feminism without getting rid or patriarchy and the race gap, or considering how religion and culture affect feminism and its ideologies.
Patriarchy has its roots everywhere, in business there is a paternalistic organizational culture, in politics there is a paternalistic rule whereby the state assumes that you do not know what is good for you so they will enforce a law to protect you even if it is against your wish.
In the sports industry the men’s sports have more coverage and most sports are male dominated. Not to mention the popularity of male dominated sports. Feminism in this light became a face for governments all over the world to come up with some acronyms and slogans that say ‘Women’ which gives them leverage if they are ever threatened by with sexism or promotion of inequality.
Feminism, widely misunderstood, has done a significant amount of damage. Women are even more under pressure to act like men because feminism in some cases has been mis interpreted to be a hatred for men and a competition against men.
To some, feminism means that men do not carry out their ‘duties’ because women are being empowered. This usually leads to men making women pick up the bill when they go out or opening the doors themselves and in the worst of cases, a guy will stick his hands in his pocket whilst a woman carries a heavy load. His excuse is ’feminism’.
This is the second problem, the crux of the feminism backlash is the racial feminism. Black feminism is hypersexualized, and white feminism is more politically and economically inclined. When feminism started to dominate the scene, it was white women who were fighting for economic power and the need for equal acknowledgement as their male counterparts. Black women were more focused on building homes and being the submissive wives that religion and culture teaches them to be. Fast forward to a couple of years later, black women want to be acknowledged and emancipated. Instead they are granted sexual freedom. In short, black women were sexually emancipated, allowed to carry their sexuality into the public eye and to be admired for it. Society being as devious as it is, it exploits the image of women, sexuality is commercialised, and the perfect woman image is built. The perfect black woman has an exuberant figure, light skinned with a large bottom and bosom.
Video vixens flood music videos, popular female black artists use their sexuality as the most powerful tool in their music and their image. This in turn perpetuates a negative mindset amongst black women of what the ideal black woman should look like and act like.
Back track a little, how did the image of the black woman become hypersexualized? When the colonialists came to Africa they found Africans half naked and the women’s bodies were ‘vulgar’. The sexual features were very dominant, it was hard to not think about a black woman without thinking about sex. When they introduced civilisation, sex was a taboo subject, when feminism came about black women were encouraged to celebrate their sexuality. To support the cause, media backed up all movements that supported feminism. Suddenly black women were sexier, poetry became all about the femininity and the swells and valleys of mother earth which are metaphors for lady bumps.
White women are parliament, giving birth later in life and venturing into studies that are mainly male dominated. Black women’s sexuality is being used in metaphors in poems about nature, being praised for their strength and ability to bear children and their domestic capabilities. Now, black women think of looking good and being sex symbols whereas white women are being economically liberated and emancipated. Feminism linked to race has a completely different meaning and the concept on its own has been widely twisted and misinterpreted so much that it has caused damage.