Mes­sage From The Edi­tor

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - dei­dre@tcb­me­dia.co.za @didiloots | @tcb­me­dia

“The prob­lem with gen­der is that it pre­scribes how we should be rather than recog­nis­ing how we are. Imag­ine how much hap­pier we would be, how much freer to be our true in­di­vid­ual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gen­der ex­pec­ta­tion.” – Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie

Fem­i­nism. It’s a word that ex­cites some but, sadly, scares most. The no­tion that “the fem­i­nists are tak­ing over” is about as dated as the idea that women are not equal to men. Women are the ma­jor­ity on the earth – at last count at least 52% of the world’s hu­man pop­u­la­tion was fe­male – and yet many still live un­der the cloud of gen­der in­equal­ity.

A few months ago, the pages of glossy fash­ion mag­a­zines were lit­tered with pic­tures of Hol­ly­wood films stars, mod­els and so­cial in­flu­encers all wear­ing the very same thing – a white shirt, with the words “We Should All Be Fem­i­nists” boldly writ­ten across the front. It seemed to be the “it” piece of cloth­ing of the sea­son – and I had com­pletely missed the memo. Where did this quote come from? Who said it? And where on earth could I get one of those chic shirts?

It turned out that the shirt was a joint ven­ture of singing su­per­star Ri­hanna and the famed French fash­ion house, Dior. The price tag made my nor­mal in­come-earn­ing eyes wa­ter, but the pro­ceeds go to a good cause – Rhi­anna’s Clara Lionel Foun­da­tion – and so, I could see the at­trac­tion.

Still some­thing trou­bled me – I knew I had heard that quote be­fore. As a big fan of TEDX talks, I was look­ing through their Youtube chan­nel one night and there it was – We Should

All Be Fem­i­nists by Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie. Speak­ing of her ex­pe­ri­ences as an African fem­i­nist, she re­told sto­ries of grow­ing up in a male-dom­i­nated cul­ture. She first heard the term “fem­i­nist” at the age of 14, and quickly learned that many peo­ple thought of fem­i­nism as fun­da­men­tally “un-african”. Ob­vi­ously this com­pletely dis­re­gards the ex­pe­ri­ences of women in first-world coun­tries that also suf­fer from the seem­ingly un­de­feat­able pa­tri­archy, but still, the con­cept was al­legedly “un-african”.

This got me think­ing about what fem­i­nism is in Africa, and how the con­ti­nent’s tra­di­tional back­bone has both hin­dered and helped the fem­i­nist strug­gle. Again, I’d like to point out that fem­i­nism, to me, is noth­ing more than equal­ity – to be con­sid­ered for a job, for ex­am­ple, the same as a man if I too have the same qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Fem­i­nism is want­ing to live in a world where your gen­der sim­ply does not mat­ter.

In the words of Wan­gari Maathai, the Kenyan No­bel Peace Lau­re­ate, “The higher you go, the fewer women there are.” This is true across the globe and not just in Africa. When we read about a fe­male CEO or a fe­male chair of the board, we silently note, “Oh, she’s a wo­man.” The day that fem­i­nism’s work is done is the day that you see a fe­male chief of surgery or a fe­male pres­i­dent and her gen­der never once crosses your mind, be­cause it sim­ply isn’t un­usual any­more. There are plenty of women in po­si­tions of power, but sadly in com­par­i­son to men in power, women are un­der-rep­re­sented in the pro­fes­sional world.

This Women’s Month, re­mem­ber that be­ing a wo­man is not a hin­drance. It is not an ex­cuse for a com­pany to pay you less than your male co-work­ers. It is not an ex­cuse for some­one to dis­miss your ideas be­cause “you don’t know what it’s like to be a man”. Adichie said very proudly in her We Should All Be

Fem­i­nists speech that she has “cho­sen to no longer be apolo­getic for my fem­i­nin­ity. All I want is to be re­spected in all my fe­male­ness. Be­cause I de­serve to be.” This is the mes­sage that you should carry with you, this month and ev­ery one af­ter.

En­joy the read

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