Pulse Blogger: Beyond feminism: Respect and kindness

Fela and his mum,Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti a leading woman activist in Nigeria

The people who came up with the concept of feminism probably did not expect it to be used by some the way it is today.

The birth of feminism

Feminism was birthed out of many revolutions in the past to tackle issues around gender equality particularly at the workplace, in politics and for social benefits (access to education, etc).

Human beings are different.

In general, one human being is not and will never be the same as the next (wouldn’t life be so boring if we were?). We do not have the same biology (both outside and within our gender). We do not have the same skills. We do not have the same jobs. We are just not able to do the same things.

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The fundamentals.

The fundamental principle behind feminism however, is exposure and access to those things that women would not normally be able to as a result of the way their roles are defined in our various societies, both in the past and today. In the past, the focus was on issues such as the right to vote, eligibility to embark on the same careers as men and access to education.

While some parts of the world are ahead of others in closing the equality gap in these areas, we cannot dispute that these very real battles still exist and have even subtly evolved; for instance, inequality in compensation for men and women in the same careers or roles (taking a step further from getting that role in the first place).

Another view.

However, bringing a differing mindset to this, we still struggle with the principle of equality and many issues of demographic stratification within our immediate communities. There are so many aspects of our culture and modern society that are burning with inequality, which I do not really see some of these modern feminists having conversations about.  I find their arguments to be just a little shallow and superficial sometimes.

Back to basics.

Can we go back to the drawing board? In my opinion, beyond feminism, the very simple principles of respect and kindness could help create a better concept and instil the mindset of equality.

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How do we view each other as individuals and communities? Are we in any way irrationally biased? Why? When we ask ourselves such questions, we may start to uncover the real depth behind inequality and discrimination in the world today against women, people of certain race, culture, religion, social status etc.

Taking this mindset to everyday living, we may ask ourselves: How do we treat our domestic staff? How do we treat our subordinates at work? How do we treat our peers who may be somewhat different from us? How objective and unbiased are our daily decision-making processes? 

Character really goes a long way. If we approached life and made our decisions based on the basic principles of respect and kindness, discrimination and equality may not be issues as dire as they are today and the concept of divisiveness would probably not exist. Modern feminists may not be so defensive.

But hey, the world is not perfect and human beings are not either. 

I just think that we should put a hold on being so fixated on superficial and shallow concepts and focus inwards on our fundamental character of our society and ourselves.

Written by Oyin Egbeyemi

Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.

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