My Problem with Feminists

Sometimes feminists make me feel a little uncomfortable. I think they can be very extreme when it comes to interactions and relationships with the opposite sex. Many of them are out to get equality and prove to the world that women can do everything that men can do. This is all good and well but it can’t be one’s only hustle.

The thing is, women have always been able to do everything that men can do and probably even better. Women have ruled nations, led armies and influenced national economies. We have nothing to prove because countless women in history have done that for us already. In modern times, Oprah Winfrey, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Margaret Thatcher, J.K. Rowling, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and so many more have stepped up in areas where men excel. The focus for women should not be on competing with men but rather on excelling in their own fields and finding constructive ways to bridge the gender gap so that both men and women can work together to dispose of social ills.

As a matter of fact, in a domestic as well as social setting, a lot of women are quite happy with the religiously inclined and culturally prescribed order of things where the man assumes the role of the leader and provider and the woman maintains the home and is a reliable source of education and nurturing. For many women, the real issue lies not in adhering to traditional norms but in finding the right male to share these important roles with. I believe that the crux of the perception of gender roles lies in finding the best person for the role and not necessarily in balancing the scales. My problem with feminists is that their priority is balancing the scales over all else.

A man who truly appreciates his role of leader and provider is wise and respectful. He is one of deeply rooted values and high moral standards. Such a man is on a continuous journey of spiritual enlightenment and he embarks on this journey with his group. He is hungry for knowledge and his quest for financial freedom is ethical. The alpha male is overprotective and his family comes first. He is easy to approach and at the same time, he commands respect in the manner that he carries himself. He is free of addictions and whatever he does; he is always responsible for his actions. A leader has the best interests of the group at heart.

This is the type of man that women want to interact with in a working environment. This is the type of man who would partner well with a woman who knows her worth in an intimate relationship. A woman who is proud of her family and home will make an ideal match for a man with great leadership qualities.

In general, women are eager to embrace a nurturing position in a team where the leader, whether male or female, is rich in character. Women want a bold man who will take charge of the household. The challenge comes when women choose men who are the complete opposite of what the head of the household should be. Sadly, sometimes a woman has no say in the husband her family chooses for her. There are men who are abusive and have no control over their physical urges.

As women and in particular, African women, I think our struggle lies not in taking over the socially granted male position. Our challenges include helping sisters find their feet after getting out of abusive relationships and raising a new generation of men who will value women and not rape and kill them.

We should combine our resources to help each other create employment and income opportunities so that we can make a necessary contribution to the family’s financial situation. Women need to raise awareness about traditional practices that are no longer relevant and conducive to building productive communities e.g. customs such as unregulated male circumcisions in South Africa and female genital mutilation in Mali, Gambia, Sierra Leone and a host of other countries.

If feminists focussed more on these issues as a matter of urgency, they would get my vote without hesitation. Personally, I am not trying to win the battle of the sexes. I don’t see the need for a battle of the sexes. This is the reason I often feel misunderstood by most feminists. While their rhetoric leans on the verge of the hatred of men and proving a point, I am scared to jump on the feminist bandwagon.


China Sello Phashe / 3 June 2013

Oh! well done sister,this is a lovely one, for both men and women.Thumbs up!!

Brenda Ibarah / 3 June 2013

I was waiting for such an article on this blog mostly because this magazine has a couple of feminists and this is a good word to them.We appreciate them but they shouldn’t focus so much on winning the battle of sexes.I’m sharing this!

Salha Kaitesi / 4 June 2013

However much I enjoyed reading this article because the writer did mention a few points that are worth pursuing but unfortunately have nothing to do with feminism. A feminist does not concentrate on the battle of the sexes as you call it. The rise of feminism started when those we would call our grandma’s not being able to vote just because women were considered an inferior sex. They fought for equality because they were ‘sick’ of men telling them how ie raise their children when no man had a clue as to what raising a child was like. Brenda, feminists made it possible for you and I to be able to be accepted into society. Campaigning so that our human rights are respected.
I on the other hand constantly campaign to end poverty, injustice and gender equality because I see the girl child having the same right as his brother who was sent to school (but not her). I campaign because I see women losing the rights to what is rightly theirs – their inheritance when their husbands die. Bear in mind that this could be you and me. If these actions put me in the category that you think is feminism then so be it.

Anna / 5 June 2013

Awesome, Salha!

Anna / 3 June 2013

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I have two questions:

1. Could you please give me some recent examples of feminist discourse that overemphasizes “the battle of the sexes” or “hatred of men”? This doesn’t resonate with me at all. The feminism I encounter online (tumblr, facebook, blogs) and off hardly seems to be preoccupied with “balancing the scales” as you put it.

The feminism I engage with day to day is focused on developing awareness of oppression (not just of women, but of marginalized groups like LGBT, racial minorities, the disabled, the mentally ill, etc). It is also focused on helping people understand the ways in which we continue to devalue and harm women through rape culture, objectification, and narrow beauty/success standards. This feminism is very much focused on celebrating and uplifting all people, no matter their genders, sexual orientation, body size, kinks, mental health, or ability. The feminism I see is committed to expanding societal understanding of gender diversity and gender roles. I rarely see the “battle of the sexes” or “hatred of men” taking place in these discourses.

If you’d like to see a long list of the feminist sites and spaces I frequent, please ask and I’ll post it.

2. Are you a feminist?

The following sentence made me uncomfortable: “If feminists focused more on these issues as a matter of urgency, they would get my vote without hesitation.”

It made me uncomfortable because it suggests that you don’t quite understand feminism. Feminism isn’t a club or a party that needs your vote. Feminism isn’t an institution made up of an elect group that sets the agenda on what issues to focus on.

Feminism is what happens when you and I start engaging with issues that challenge oppressive systems.

Even if you don’t agree with some of the major issues in feminism, you can still be a feminist.

As long as you are committed to challenging systems that oppress women and other marginalized groups, you are a feminist. That means that it is your responsibility to urgently focus on whatever issues are important to you. There’s a lot to tackle, so don’t expect all feminists to deal with the same issues. Focus on what’s important to you and start fighting – we’re all in this together, every action counts.

Please read the following article. It addresses the common misconception that hatred of men is at the core of feminism:

Thanks again for writing this article.



My Problem with Feminists | A PHOENIX AMONGST HUMANS / 4 June 2013

[…] My Problem with Feminists. […]

Ntokozo Sindane / 5 June 2013


I feel so lucky that you took time out of your day to not only read my post but also to respond and share your thoughts. I am humbled and I appreciate and respect your responses and opinions.

My post was not meant to undermine the work of any feminist organisation in any way. It is merely an opinion and for me, reason enough to not be quick to call myself a feminist. I cannot for a minute deny that women face more challenges than men do just by virtue of being female. I am also female, I go through these things too, I live this life too.

My opinion and the point I was trying to make with my post is that I do not think that the approach of ‘women vs. men’ assumed by quite a lot of feminists is the best one. I speak for myself, though I know that my opinion is not unique. I find the idea of women working closely with men to solve social issues more attractive. This is my post in a nutshell: “The focus for women should not be on competing with men but rather on excelling in their own fields and finding constructive ways to bridge the gender gap so that both men and women can work together to dispose of social ills.”

I also do not expect everyone to be passionate about the same endeavours that I am passionate about. I only made references to a few African causes and this does not mean that other struggles are less important because I did not mention them. I am also fully aware that feminist organisations dedicate their time and efforts to different causes and are not all doing the same thing. It would be ridiculous to box everyone and stick a single label on the box.

As for – “If feminists focussed more on these issues as a matter of urgency, they would get my vote without hesitation.” This is a figure of speech, merely an expressive metaphor. In South Africa, there is no ‘Feminist Party’ to vote for. I was just trying to emphasize that ‘feminist’ is not a word I use to describe myself. I believe women issues are social issues that won’t be solved by women alone.

I realise that not everyone who reads my posts will see eye to eye with me and that is what excites me about this excellent platform; flipping the coin and looking at things from a different angle. In the interests of sharing information and learning from each other, I think it’s a great idea to share links to other interesting and informative reading material.

Once again, I still can’t get over the fact that such amazing African women, and brother China, actually read my post! It’s a great honour to converse with you. I look forward to future posts and discussions. Until then, I wish you all the best with your positive endeavours, feminist or otherwise. God bless.

Justine Nameere / 8 June 2013

I do not think feminists emphasize hatred for men. I believe they speak of the comparison between men and women because history has made it inevitable. The ghost of men who suppressed women is still haunting our systems, beliefs and life styles thus the need to counter it with advocacy regarding women’s abilities. In other words feminists remind the world about the fact that a woman can do it so just like you give the man a chance, give the woman too. Its bringing equality between the two for the good of society; do not get it twisted and think feminists want to get men hated and inferior to women. They are simply correcting mistakes made by history. Remember history could repeat itself if no body cares. Every body related to any female whether a daughter, mother, wife, sister, friend… which I believe every body is, should be grateful to feminists.

Otherwise your article is a good note to feminists not to forget to emphasize the graceful nature of an African woman. A true African woman is a co-ordinator not a commander! Her kindness, love,principles, patience and hard work make her a loved but respected personality- the queen in her should come out- graceful but respected!

Otherwise men please lose no weight, you are our partners not tormenters or enemies or slaves. We love you that is why we want to work with you which can only happen if you treat us the way you would want to be treated- with love, dignity, equality and respect.


Anna / 10 June 2013

Great post, Justine.

I want to point out something:

You say that “a true African woman is a co-ordinator not a commander.”

I think an African woman can choose what she wants to be. Maybe she wants to be both, maybe neither. Maybe she doesn’t care about being graceful. It’s not our place to say what makes a “true African woman.” In my view, dictating what women can and can’t be is a large part of the problem of oppression.


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