A Male Activist In Female Emancipation by Austin Isikhuemen

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Today, I want to make a confession. I am a strong believer in women’s emancipation and have long enlisted in the army dedicated to achieving victory in that war. I can already see some readers’ jaws drop in consternation and unbelief, that a man so male, would dare contemplate coming out of the closet, as it were, to confess to joining an army they consider anathema to their virility and dominance. Join our Content Creation Academy

And I know, once the matter of female emancipation is mentioned, some folks’ testosterone suddenly starts flowing at high pressure and their thinking leaves the brain and goes south.

That much is understandable. Because such males see the search for female emancipation as a zero-sum game which means they must lose for women to gain. This limited worldview, which the caveman also must have considered sacrosanct, can only be interrogated with an open mind.

So let those who admit to having a closed mind or consider having a closed mind an asset stop reading now, else, in the words of Emefiele, they would get a heart attack! God forbid.

At least, just pretend to have an open mind too and read on. The mind is like an umbrella – it is only effective when open. This issue of openness is vital to understand that women are not free, or conversely, are in bondage from which they need to be liberated!

The Nigerian Guardian Newspaper has a byeline, quoting Othman Dan Fodio – Conscience is an open wound. Only truth can heal it. So, another way you can convince yourself to read this to the end is to consider yourself a man of conscience. Or are you the opposite? God forbid!

One way that would make the arguments raised here easier to grapple with is to consider the oppressed womenfolk as your wife. Or daughter. Or sister. Put any of those in the list of those women’s liberation will help.

Oh, you think your wife is underserving. That she will take your place and begin to play boss! It needs not be thought of in that sense for that is not what women seek when they talk about liberation, emancipation, and freedom.

But just exactly do they mean? What do they want? It is by understanding what their objective is, and knowing it is even in men’s interest overall, that a man can key into this quest and make the objective more attainable in shorter timescales.

The societal benefits of a liberated womenfolk are enormous. An Okonjo-Iweala or an Amina Mohammed benefits the society more than a cowed, subservient woman whose intellect and contribution is left untapped.

Notice that these women are not known to be anti-men or husband-demeaning in spite of their enormous power and achievements! In cases where the wife has been touted to be disrespectful to the husband because she has ‘achieved’ it is more to do with the man’s lack of self-confidence rather than the woman’s uppity demeanor. Exceptions exist, of course, where the woman lords it over the man.

Some men would like that last sentence and see it as a justification for their stand that a woman emancipated is a woman out of control. But I am sure you have seen successful professional women who respect and, indeed, venerate, their husband despite his shortcomings!

She makes him feel good and presents him in good light to her friends and family. So, it is not the way you think and the least you need to do is open your mind to the possibilities that await a society that emancipates their women and unleashes their potential as Rwanda is doing, currently.

What is women’s emancipation?

Let me quote from IGI Global, the publisher of TIMELY KNOWLEDGE:

The term “emancipation” is often associated with the value of freedom. It implies freedom from legal, political or social restrictions. It is equally a process that enables the powerless social groups to gain access to and control of resources in a given society.

In tandem with this, woman emancipation is inextricably linked to efforts or social schemes aimed at setting women free from all types of bondage and socio-political and economic exploitation.

The term “woman emancipation” is thus generally used to refer to the process by which women in general and poor women, in particular, are made to gain access and control of all forms of resources in a nation.

It is a movement that aims at ensuring freedom of self-fulfillment and self-development for women, as well as equal access to domestic and community resources.

What are the proofs that women are being short-changed and oppressed in our society? Is there empirical evidence that women are being given the short end of the stick in any way? Culturally, economically, educationally, politically?

Even judicially and jurisprudentially! Does our culture across Nigeria give equal treatment to women and men when it comes to inheritance and property rights? Some would consider my even asking an abomination! But hold your fire.

Would you not like your daughter to have a slice of your ‘leftovers’ when you are gone? Or do you consider that she is less of a child than the male? Would you summon the courage to tell her so?

In today’s Nigeria and in a majority of African countries, it is common knowledge that it is much easier for men to access loans for business than for women to do so.

This may well be because the majority of those that make the lending decisions are male and perhaps carry their chauvinism along to the office. What about jobs where females are disproportionately favored such as bank marketing and deposit pursuits?

Yes, the female is favored there but that is because they are used as baits and thereby unduly exposed to the shenanigans of men and their sexual peccadillos putting the young ladies at risk of sexual predation and high blood pressure engendered by impossible targets.

Even in America today, women are still fighting to have equal pay for equal work! Males get paid more in many cases than women doing the same role. In what they call God’s own country!

A lot of men in a desperate situation to choose between a daughter’s education or a son’s education due to financial constraints would consider the son first. Their puerile argument?

That after all, is she now going to marry a man and leave her parent’s homestead? She gets left behind in favor of a male, probably with weak prospects, simply because she is female despite the fact that many families are actually surviving on the efforts of women today. Why not train her knowing she is going to use her talents to better the lot of a man like you?

In politics today, women have been so marginalized considering their numbers. Our population, counted mostly by men, of course, is said to be 49.4 % women to 50.6% men.

This is almost 50/50 so how come the National Assembly mostly populated by men voted to throw out an affirmative bill that was to reserve 35% of government appointments for women? And which gender votes the highest during elections? The women by far.

Who appropriates the right to tell them who to vote for? Men of course? Show me a more undemocratic situation!

And I can tell personal stories that buttress my position on women’s emancipation. My dad was a very good man, hardworking, and loved his children. He loved and sacrificed so much for me. He was loved in our community and respected.

He and the men attended the community meetings at the village square or okoghele where key decisions are made and implemented. Women are never allowed there.

In meetings of general nature where both men and women attended, it was not uncommon to hear a known male weakling berating a woman who dared raise her voice asking with so much pride “women should not be talking when men are talking!”

It does not matter that several of them come to consult my mother on the appropriate position to take before going to the village square! And I also confess that in spite of my strengths to which a number of folks can testify, my spouse, Evelyn is stronger than me by far – temperamentally, perception-wise, entrepreneurially, and strategically. I have said it. Sue me!

Did Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala not tell Nigeria to save for the raining day through the sovereign wealth fund? Who were the politicians that told her point-blank to share the money and forget about tomorrow?

Men! And many of them are running for the office of the President having set the cost of forms so high that no woman can pay! Would Nigeria had been in this mess if we had a seasoned woman in charge? How many Nigerians have been killed by female bandits? By male bandits? The answer is blowing in the winds.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination recommending that we men should abdicate to women. Far from it. My position is that we can not make good progress as a nation when we leave half of our population behind.

We cannot improve our foreign exchange supply by exporting male chauvinism. Or testosterone! I watched a video in which Nigeria’s brilliant, delectable pride, Chimamanda Adichie, made a compelling case for feminism, marshaling irrefutable arguments to buttress her position.

This was when she was interviewed by Trevor Noah on his The Daily Show where they discussed her book Dear Ijeawele. One man could only comment ‘vacuous …’ without bothering to raise alternative views to the ones Chimamanda canvassed. We men default to culture shield once challenged by change but change we must.

I am writing this by 2.45 am and I feel a bit sleepy now so I would like to hang my pen, or is it fingers?

Next time you as a man want to disparage feminism and women’s emancipation, want to vote against affirmative action in favor of women, or you want to claim that a woman’s voice must not be heard while her mates are running some countries as Presidents, just think of your daughter, wife, mother and decide if you would rather have them emancipated or have them remain in servitude.

For no other reason than that they are women whose gender selection they had no choice in.

Lafiaji, Lagos, 16th May 2022. – Austin Isikhuemen

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