Feminism according to Wikipedia is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. It seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist ideally works to establish the rights and equality of women.

In 1963 the book ‘The feminine mystique’ was published by Betty Friedan, it raised the question “Is this all there is?” “Is this really all a woman is capable of doing?” I believe these questions form the foundation for a balanced approach to the feminist movement. Can a woman achieve more out of life? Should anyone other than herself have the right to limit her? In my opinion the various waves of feminist movements over the decades tackled these questions.

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  • The first-wave of feminism occurred between the 19th and early 20th century. It fought for women’s suffrage: to secure women’s right to vote, to be elected and challenged certain legalities around women’s equality.

  • Second-wave feminism tackled issues around family law and the equality of women in relationships, protecting them from rape and discrimination. Started early in 1960, it continues till date.

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  • Third-wave feminism in my opinion lacks the focus of it’s predecessors. However, it has shown a divide amongst the ranks with some feminist believing that there are differences between the sexes, and others asserting that there are no inherent differences between the sexes.

The fight for equality in my opinion should no longer be approached from a take over point of view, but rather a case by case approach should be used. It’s important to remember that it’s equality that formed the movement and not establishing women as leaders over men. Thus when I read the article in the guardian by Jessica Valenti find an excerpt below. Click here to read the article.

“I’ve often counted my blessings that I married a man who is as feminist as I am. The truth is that like a lot of people with busy work lives, I could not be effective at my job – or as a parent – if it weren’t for the fact that I have a supportive partner …. Men who stay at home to take care of children may be admired in ways that women never are, but they’re also derided for not being traditional breadwinners.”

What if her husband gets a job with better financial options for the family and she had to stay at home or cut back her hours, would she still see him as feminist and supportive? If the answer to the above is NO, then am sorry I don’t see that as a balanced feminist approach: if anything it negates the concept of equality.

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Let’s consider another example as detailed by Millie Thom: “The bad side of feminism that too often raises its ugly head, is women behaving in a derogatory way towards men and being totally obnoxious to any man who offers simple courtesy towards them -by keeping a door open for them, for example (I’ve seen that happen.) To me it’s common courtesy to keep a door open for anyone following behind me, man or woman.  But this particular woman gave the poor man who’d held the door for her a real mouthful of abuse and the usual accusation of being a chauvinist pig!”

Need I say more, feminism should not be an excuse for a breech of social etiquette and an ignorance of how to dress or behave under different circumstances. It shouldn’t turn us to man-haters.

The author, feminist and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins (aka Bell hooks) encourages women to acknowledge their differences whilst accepting each other: to embrace sisterhood a very important practice as no two women are the same. She believes there is a need to restructure the cultural fabric of power into one that doesn’t depend on the oppression of others. She calls for the involvement of men in the feminist movement to avoid the separationist ideology, shifting the original focus of feminism away from victimization, and towards mutual understanding, appreciation, and tolerance for all genders and sexes so that all are in control of their own destinies, uncontrolled by patriarchal, capitalist tyrants.

I strongly agree with Bell Hooks, as women we must not castigate each other for our choices.The essence of feminism is to give everyone the right to own their choices, to chart their own life paths. Problem is most of us don’t own or understand our equality, as Sigmund Freud said: “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

Equality means responsibility for your choices and decisions, owning up to your mistakes, learning to make compromises in relationships, sacrificing, giving yourself the right ‘to be‘ and according the same right to another.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5: 21.

This verse comes before its more popular counterpart (wives submit to your husbands): in submitting we accept the best option at every given time under God, in loving we balance each other out: equal partners when done right.

Published by Chioma Nwafor