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Toxic Feminism and Gate Keepers Per Excellence

The 2021 news headlines on the lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria whose sexual misconduct with a female student received mild recommendation got me thinking about how society continues to encourage “toxic” feminism. As I read the news, I kept asking myself, why would a man get such an easy pass for behaving badly? Why should there even be an argument of inconsistency with the panel? What is debatable about such behavior? what of the women on the panel? How about the student, who is looking out for her? Are they now going to heap the blame on the female student or they are waiting for another Social Media backlash to hold the lecturer firmly accountable with the final approval?

On the recommendations according to Premium Times:

But in its recommendations, many feel the committee was lenient with the lecturer as his punishment included a warning letter and forfeiture of cumulation of half of his salaries which have been continued to be held by the university since he was suspended.

The committee also said he should not be allowed to hold any management position on campus for the next five years. Also, he will not be promoted for two years. These recommendations, which formed a subject of debate at the Senate meeting of the university last week, led to a division among members in attendance”.

News like this reminds us of the lived experiences and silence of women in Nigeria. Young girls who have limited views about life end up with deep hatred for men because the more you listen to the experiences of young people, the more you realize, that Nigerian society (not just Nigeria) is built to hold women back. As more women are silenced and the struggles of girls are being erased to elongate the status quo of the system with women as the chief enablers and beneficiaries, more women choose to go to extremes in defending themselves because really, who will fight for me as a woman? who will hear my cry and struggles as a young girl?

Feminists in Nigeria have been labeled toxic because of their extreme views on a patriarchal system dominated by men for men (and boys). There was once a viral tweet about a lady who alleged she will kill her child if she ever gave birth to a boy. Perhaps, that is just bants or clout chasing that would be another discussion but the more you look deeper into why young women choose this path the more you begin to understand how society fans the flame of “men or boys’ hate”. The overwhelming side to this is just how much males continue to get away with violence against females even in obvious situations. Tales of domestic violence, molestation of young girls, and preying on ladies who are naïve, and desperate for big breaks happen all the time and the most common is rape.

There is also the issue of women who themselves are gatekeepers of patriarchal systems, justifying why boys will always be boys or why men should get a slap of the wrist for the same thing women and girls are crucified for. In many homes, women would drill their daughters with endless chores, and strict upbringing but let the boys grow up doing the barest minimum, sometimes, they do zilch. Such men grow up with a strong sense of entitlement, occupying key positions in society with a myopic sense of the place of women. They end up in relationships with people’s children who sometimes come from different backgrounds cumulating in cases of domestic violence of a man who still gets away with his actions……stroking his ego, a pat on the back, while the woman and whatever she feels is erased.

Mothers who themselves are gatekeepers of patriarchy will find systems to silence the grievances of their daughters in the home, and invalidate her feelings while they allow the boys free reign because “boys will be boys”. Girls cannot dress anyhow, they have timelimit to hang out, and they are pressured to thrive academically or discouraged to aim higher in their lives because “it all ends in the kitchen”. Women are bashed for remaining single as their biology clock clicks away while the men can be hailed as first-grade model bachelors. Lest i forget, how young girls are publicly shunned and shamed for teenage pregnancy and i keep wondering what about the boy? isn’t he equally responsible?

Studies on intersectionality continue to reveal that the biggest gender issues are within the same gender. Tales of women upholding the patriarchal system when it favors people close to them or someone they look up to. Women who would throw their daughters under the bus shame her, slapping their brothers or sons on the wrist for serious issues like molestation. Women will go through highs and lows for their boys but will hold back on opportunities for their daughters. Women who mock other women for running from abusive marriages oppress female subordinates while male colleagues tend to be more considerate. Women who despite multiple campaigns on gender violence continue to defend Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), ironing of breasts, early child marriage, code of silence in places of worship in the face of molestation, and abuse of house help. The list is endless……

This is not about the “Feminist FC Vs. Patriarchy FC” argument, we normally drag it on Social Media. Of course, some women have amazing fathers and have had men support them all their lives. I am one with amazing men around me but this is not about men vs. women posts. It is a reflection on deeper issues within the female gender which is less visible when there are discussions on patriarchy. As more men keep getting away with violence against women and misogynist behavior, there will be even more toxic feminism serving as the shield against a world that suppresses women. As more women choose to be gatekeepers and enablers of a system that victimizes women while slapping men on the wrist for the same offense, young men end up becoming victims themselves of toxic feminists. The type of toxicity that is one-sided based on personal experiences becomes generalized into full-fledged hatred for men and boys. Innocent men and boys will suffer with such women because they automatically approach any man with that same feeling of bottled oppression, anger and being silenced.

Women have bigger fights with other women than men even though the Gender squabble is always about men vs women. What many do not see is how much women themselves aid and abet this system. Women who find a reason to uphold the status quo, women who continue to raise entitled boys who become even more ego-drunk in their relationships with women as adults; women who give reasons why a man should beat his wife and why a woman must remain in an abusive marriage; women who easily blame childlessness in marriage on the women; women who still think a man must continue to earn higher than females, women who still think the place of women is forever in the kitchen; women who shut their daughters up after being molested because they want to save their marriage; women who tell you straight up that you as a young woman that you deserve to suffer this much because it is the norm. Men get passes for having side chics but the women are slut shamed for having sugar daddies…….It goes on and on…..and there are still women who blame rape, and molestation on dress sense. They are everywhere….your aunt, your mum, your sister, your cousin, your pastor’s wife, older women in places of worship, on the street, gossip in the saloon….women who uphold the system even in the smallest way.

Toxic feminism is just as bad as the gang of patriarchal gatekeepers. No side serves society well. Women become enablers or defenders of men's hate based on their experiences. There are good men out there but if more women keep being silenced, if we as mothers do not do better to raise our boys, it keeps the cycle going with more victims, whether male or female. Men cannot continue to get away with a slap on the wrist while the woman is shamed for the same offense, there must be a way to approach these things without making the woman feel smaller or worthless.

There should be equity in condemnation! As we call out Toxic feminists, let us also call defenders of patriarchy, the gatekeeper per excellence and maybe for once, look beyond male vs. female in understanding violence against women.

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