I do not remember the exact month, week or day time I became feminist. But I definitely remember the times when I was not feminist and completely hated feminism. For as long as I can remember (before December 2017), I hated feminism and more importantly—for reasons I will explain below—I hated feminists.
In the summer of 2016, I started a Twitter show; I was making Twitter threads every other week on different topics that I cared about and invited guests to share their own thoughts and views. On one of such days, my tweets went notoriously viral. The topic for the week was about feminists and feminism. I spoke vehemently (without really knowing what feminism was, or even if I knew, I hated to see it) as to why feminists were daughters of the devil. I thought ‘how on earth does a woman not know how to cook? How do you suppose to cook for your husband in the future?’ Being an African woman, it is culturally expected that you cook for your husband, clean up after him and live in complete obedience to his will. It is the way the majority of us grew up. So, hearing feminists argue that cooking doesn't come pre-installed in a vagina —as Chimamanda Adichie puts it—therefore it is not compulsory for women to cook, and demanding that of them is sexist and allowing gender roles exist. I could not believe it. Were women not supposed to be okay with being the helper of men?
Were we not all raised to serve? Were we not supposed to grow up and excited to move to our husband’s house and spend our lifetime proving that we’re the perfect and best wives to our husbands and our in-laws? Were we not meant to carry our husbands along all our personal decisions and seek his permission to go ahead? We were NOT to be defiant, rude or mouthy. It's ‘unladylike’. Which is why I went crazy when these feminists were asking me to take down my patriarchal tweets and get informed. I hated their guts.
I thought their feminism was untold, unethical, un-African. I thought they had been brainwashed and were just a group of unloved women showing hatred for men without cause. I thought they didn't want to be considered as trophies and was out of my mind when they were talking about sexual and financial freedom. I hated them. I hated how I saw them able to tweet about sex, romance, love, swear words, etc. I hated that certain women (other feminists) were supporting them. I hated the men (allies) who were supporting them. I wondered ‘who would marry these ones?’. I hated the feminists who were able to defy everything for everything and came out liberated. The freedom scared me—internally excited me—but externally could never have shown. I was okay with being a second class citizen. My small, closed, unlearning mind could not fathom anything other than what it knew.
“When people have been oppressed for so long; they become immune to it…”
― Henry Johnson Jr, Liberian Son
I hated feminists because they were everything I grew up hearing that women couldn't be—authoritative, bold, daring, loud, overt. I hated them for being what I adored, wanted and thought normal in a man. They didn't want to be controlled. I was scared that something about that wasn't normal; well, until I tasted it.
So, my dear sister, I see why you refuse feminism and why you do not want to be called feminists. It is crazy realizing that you’re going to deviate and shift from everything you know. But my darling, it is worth it. Patriarchy wants you comfortable where you are. It wants you to be feminist at work, in public or on social media and at home submissive and subservient. It wants you caged for the rest of your life.
“The patriarchy longs for the days ‘when men were men’ and women were oppressed, subservient — and they can see no wrong in it. It justifies its former power and lust to hold on to it — and if possible, to regain it…How can oppression and power over another person’s life ever be ‘love’?” ― Christina Engela, Autumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories for the Wicked Soul