On and Off Switch on Feminism

Aimlessly browsing through YouTube videos, I click on a video titled “The African Feminist”. In it, a lady, who claims to be a feminist, clearly states “I don’t want to be equal at home but I want to be equal in the work place.” While the lady had justification for her statement, it got me thinking about when you can turn the switch on feminism.

Now, before we go any further, it is necessary we define feminism, just in case anyone is confused.

According to,

Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

Moving right along.

There has been a long debate on when and where to apply feminism. Just like the woman in the video, a lot of African women are willing to fight for equal pay at work or position in government, but drop feminism at their door step when they get home. To many, it is almost inevitable to call her a hypocrite. But does that nullify her claim as a feminist? What qualifies you as a real feminist?

Feminism was built to create equal opportunity for women in society. With the many societal issues surrounding gender inequality at work, schools, presence in government, to some, feminism is the answer to these issues.While this may be true, how come, when some women go back home to her husband, suddenly we switch off feminism. This case applies more to the African community because we have always been thought to submit to our husbands.

People often misinterpret feminism as a means to compete to be head of the family, while it actually means to share equal responsibility with your spouse. I like to use the analogy of the head and neck. The man is the head, and the woman is the neck. Both have their equal responsibilities but they are not the same! So yes! You can still be a feminist by playing your role in the family, the neck. Women are reluctant to practice their feminist views at home in fear that it may come off as someone who is competing to take the position of the man. So guess what, you can still be a feminist at home! In fact you can be a feminist anywhere, just depends on your definition.

So what is your definition of feminism?

Based on our personal beliefs, experience and values, each of us arrive at a different meaning. The difference between my definition of feminism and yours is the extent to which you are willing to take it. As women, we must be able to understand this. Others should not be frowned upon or termed “fake feminist” simply because they do not share the same views as you.

The reality is, feminism is what you make it! Based on beliefs and values, everyone’s definition and degree is different.

– Ivery Arie

Ivery Arie
Author: Ivery Arie

2 comments on “On and Off Switch on Feminism

  1. I think rather than having an ‘on’ and ‘off’ button for feminism it is recognising that just because we are feminists doesn’t mean we are not struggling with our own contradictions. We do not somehow exist in a feminist bubble outside of all patriarchal structures, rather we have to negotiate and/or defend our feminist beliefs in all the spaces we occupy in our lives: home, family, school, work, on the streets & with our friends. It’s exhausting!!!! So I guess sometimes we are not always the feminists we would ideally like to be, but it’s something we can work on changing little by little!

  2. I totally agree with you! It is the struggle of not coming off as a hypocrite. Like I said, it is really based on your definition of feminism.

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