By Angela Semanda.
“So you’re a feminist?”, a common, almost accusatory, question that I hear from time to time. To which I reply, “No- no, I better describe myself as a women’s woman. The truth is, I don’t want to be associated with those groups of women that flaunt unshaven parts and have questionable hygiene, as this has become one of the face of feminism. But really, in the true sense of the word, I am a feminist. My favorite definition of a feminist can be found in the Urban Dictionary: “belief that women can and should be treated equal to men in terms of opportunities, intellectual capabilities and social responsibility in spite of their biological and child-bearing roles.”
I recently worked on the Leadership Management and Governance project (LMG) East Africa. This project brings women mentors, who are experts in the sexual and reproductive health field, together with young women that truly desire to hone their leadership and advocacy skills. The statistics for women and children in the Africa are not good. (Refer to SDGs2030).
At a recent forum in Nairobi, I was privileged to meet some of the women who have dedicated their time and resources to mentor others in their footsteps. It was an honor to hear from Patricia Murugami at The Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. I took many lessons away from what she said but what I found most admirable was her clarity and concise way of addressing questions with valid responses, something that would have taken some ages to think around and come up with meager responses. She is evidently well read, well spoken and confident in her subject matter.
You see, women equality isn’t entitlement~a way for us to step in just for the perks, and tell the man in the cubicle next to us, that the lights broken and that’s a “man’s job”. Equality means we should enjoy the perks but also endure the tough criticism and the long hours at work while still finding a work-life balance and not having to act “like a man” to get it right.
I will conclude with an open call for more women and men, to reach out and be an engaged mentor to a young woman or man. Reach out and pull one out. As John Mayer sings, “ …Be good to your daughters, they will love you do. Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers, so mothers, be good to your daughters too. While we are on this, LADIES, please shave your parts that need to be shaved, NO ONE WILL TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY and its not cute.
I am a feminist, loudly and proudly. The kind of feminist that believes that all people are and should be treated equally irregardless of their sex/race/sexual orientation/abilities/cultural background/etc, because at the end of the day, we are all human beings. So yes I think it is important to reach out and be a mentor and find mentees. But the end of your piece is pretty questionable because I am the kind of feminist that also believes that everybody is allowed to make their own choices, especially when when it comes to how they look. When you say ladies must “shave the places that need to be shaved”, where exactly are these places? You say it is not cute. Who is it not cute for; you or for society’s beauty standards?
What I am trying to say is, for centuries, women have been told how to look/act/behave/feel, and that is why feminism is needed; to stop controlling woman and putting them in a box, so that every other being can also be free. When you advocate for women and call yourself a feminist in most part of your article then go right ahead and tell women what to do with their bodies because “it is not cute”, what part should we believe in? You’re doing exactly what feminism is against.
I see your point Dudu. Everyone does have a right to choose how they groom themselves. Personally, I have an issue with hairy armpits. Thats not to say its a taboo to choose different. But more than the issue with the hairy armpits, I have an issue with the fact that it screams louder than the message (the message being equality) and actually distracts from the point.
With that said, everyone chooses for themselves and they should be happy with those choices.
It’s always the small things that count.