A male perspective: Christopher Omale discusses feminism in today’s society and where it’s all gone wrong
For the past few years I’ve been fighting with the concept of freedom. In my final year at university I wrestled with race and the notion of imprisonment of the ‘other’.
I toiled with truth, religion and secularism. I hit horns with consumerism and the age of uncontrolled desire. And in doing so I became a recluse; a hermit hiding in his own mind constructing new philosophies – ideas I personally believed would be fitting for the future world.
Drifting away from the world in an attempt of comprehension, I quickly observed that I had imprisoned myself. I became a victim of what I sought to decipher; months after self-curing a venom I welcomed into my thought pattern.
I stumbled across a social ideology that has deeply troubled me since our encounter; a view which questions another’s freedom.
However, before elaborating on the ideology and the purpose of this piece, permit me to give a brief history of myself as it will only illustrate clearer for those that might find offence in what I have to say.
Prior to migrating to the UK, I was brought up in Nigeria for the first seven years of my life by a wise, resilient and strong mother.
Child development psychologist, Jean Piaget and his fellows agree that the first few years of an infant’s life are critical to his/her development of moral thinking. Admittedly, my mother did exact to Piaget’s belief as well going the extra mile in embedding gender equality within mine and my sibling’s minds.
Nurtured on the foundation of Christianity – love and equality reigned in our home. Additionally, since storytelling plays a huge role in Nigerian Parenting, tales were a common feature every bedtime. I recall her stories, those which brought the lessons of morality and decency. Vividly I remember her tutorials on averting hate and practicing unconditional love. These moral codes I have kept from my youth up.
From this simple illustration, hopefully you will have gathered and understood a bit about my character and the manner in which I think.
The social ideology in which I’ll be discussing is the much-debated, feminism. Feminism has had a great presence in the contemporary world – particularly in recent times. Therefore, for a male to touch upon such a controversial topic, one must be careful not to veer of track and be considered a misogynist. So in some sense I am treading on thin ice.
I’ve always supported what I like to call ‘sophisticated feminism’; the idea of fighting for gender equality, anti-rape culture and respect in general.
However, hashtag trends such as “Free the nipple”; a very modern idea of baring one’s nipples as a form of gender empowerment, that I am not supportive of.
I believe many young girls in today’s Instagram and Facebook obsessed society are truly uneducated on the topic of feminism. I can only assume they feel obliged to pay homage to the concept, not solely because of its history but due to its association with their gender.
It has come to my understanding that the lack of understanding around feminism for the last two decades or so has transported into this digital generation. And with the aid of the media, it has infiltrated itself into the subconsciousness of most.
Past times show the media have toyed with patriarchal propaganda on gender roles. Presently, the same is being done through the medialization of feminism; a strategy I believe is designed to fool young girls and women in believing equality comes only through sexualization.
If you truly look at it, what teenage boy fuelled with raging hormones is going to respect a girl/woman because she is fighting to the emancipation of her nipples, and thus becoming oversexualized just to be labelled an independent woman?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not exactly campaigning for all women to wear a veil or to cover themselves completely; liberty has no gender.
Though, my understanding and perception of feminism is a sophisticated one. I praise the women fighting to end sex trafficking and those campaigning to make tampons free for the less fortunate. Commendation goes also to the women fighting against rape globally, as well as to the suffragettes. These are aspects I believe make a true feminist.
Examine how fast the media has changed over the last fifteen years and you will be left astonished.
Its glorification of women whom behave in a manner the public see as cheap entertainment (reality TV shows) have become quite the trend, (see: Geordie Shore and others).
Fame – particularly for women – is no longer a dream one has. Stardom nowadays is all but a difficult task. Exposing your body on social networks like Instagram is enough to gain you hundreds and thousands of followers. Sex sells, always has and unfortunately it is has become an aspiration.
Coming to the point of conclusion, I believe that neo-feminism is a concept created by influential men. You know, men of older generations such as Rupert Murdoch whom have different mind-set on gender roles and have with great strategy influenced and deceived some women in believing being on a leash created by them they are truly liberated.
The world – with all honesty and without sounding too much like a pessimist (which I am not) – is gradually proceeding into a point where it will never become an egalitarian place.
I bid you farewell with this simple phrase: Free your minds not your nipples.
Chris is an Arts writer and photographer with keen interests in culture, arts and international relations.
*Last updated: 16/10/2016