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The abyss that radical feminism is digging for humanity


Article Summary: On its way to the dustbin, the Marriage and Divorce Bill is cursed left and right for attempting to desecrate and disintegrate the institution of marriage.  Yet this piece of trash is just a slice of the vast damage that the self-appointed spokespersons of womankind can inflict on society.

Author Biography: Yahya Sseremba is the publisher of The Campus Journal news website.

For both men and women Africa is a painful and humiliating abode. For women, specifically, this abode is exceedingly painful, exceedingly humiliating.

In rural Uganda where subsistence agriculture remains the norm, women till tirelessly to feed their husbands and children. But the income generated from the sale of surplus crops is usually taken by the husband to wine and dine with friends and girlfriends.

As soon as he feels that he has had enough of his wife, such a man, in total disregard of the toil of his decades-long spouse, dismisses with disgrace the worn-out woman. She’s made to walk away empty-handed, without an inch of the land she tilled for years, without even a single article of the household property that is clearly the product of her long and hard labour.

This and many other forms of domestic exploitation have been confused with African culture. If African culture does not give any respect to a man whose children are fed and clothed by a woman, it cannot turn around and subject women to hard, unpaid labour to feed the family.

This contradiction exposes the exploitation in question as a deviation from the true values of Africa, a distortion borne out of the abuse of traditional values. Tradition in this part of the world surely requires women to obey and respect their husbands, but it has never licensed men to behave like wild beasts toward their wives.

It is this kind of behavior that has been exploited by the agents of imperialism to ride roughshod over African culture in the name of women rights. To them local culture is pre-modern and anti-woman, and must be largely, if not entirely, replaced with imported values.

To them it is not enough for the woman to overcome the kind of exploitation highlighted in the introduction. She must equally abandon the roles that tradition allocates to her and assume those assigned to men. This they call gender equality.

They claim that the only acceptable difference between men and women is biological: penis is to men as vagina is to women, men impregnate while women conceive, women menstruate as opposed to men, and so forth. 

This reasoning is impaired by a fundamental flaw: it ignores the fact that biological construction usually shapes social construction. Whereas the idea that women should not eat eggs is baseless biologically and socially, it is equally silly to claim that for women to be equal to men the two must play football in the same team.

It is silly to argue that the absence of female players in the Manchester United squad, for instance, reflects the gender-insensitivity defining this British club. Women simply can hardly make it to that level, not because they are regarded as inferior, but because nature has given them other social roles they can execute best.

One social role in which women have excelled over men is parenting, or the process of fostering the physical and mental development of a child. There is no question that a responsible father needs to have time with his children to identify their capacities and to strengthen the bond between the two.  It is however with their mother that the young ones enjoy a compassionate companion whose understanding of their psychology is rare in men.

This is true not only of humans, but equally of beats, domestic and wild alike. To say that mothers should spend sufficient time with children is therefore not to degrade women, but to encourage them to concentrate on what an economist would call their comparative advantage. These are social realities that cannot be unlinked from biology.

The modern woman has not only been told that such social responsibilities are oppressive, she has been led to believe that even some biological roles like breastfeeding hold her back. Emancipation, she is deceived, means running up and down in pursuit of dime even at the expense of her offspring. 

She realizes not that by raising poorly-breastfed and poorly-nurtured children, she is planting a time bomb bound to explode with destructive consequences in the next generations. Such women, and the men that think like them, regard bottle-feeding as a perfect substitute for breastfeeding. This is absurd.

Absurd because breast milk, besides its high and perfectly-balanced nutrients, contains antibodies that guard the child against infections like diarrhea, meningitis, asthma and obesity.

Formula, or bottle milk, on the other hand, is not only devoid of nutrients and antibodies; it is hard to digest and requires a level of hygiene that is hard to find in poor African countries. Clearly, some of the children constantly succumbing to diarrhea in this part of the world acquire the infection from unclean milk bottles.

The problem of hygiene-related infections worsens when the administration of bottle-feeding is left to housemaids whose carelessness knows no bounds. Mothers forget that the choices they make, including whether to breastfeed or to bottle-feed, have consequences.

They should be reminded that breastfeeding is not only good for the baby; it also helps the mother to lose postpartum weight since the exercise reduces blood sugars, which in turn reduces the risk of acquiring diabetes and heart problems.

These are just some of the benefits of which a busy mother who has no time for domestic responsibilities deprives herself and her children. In the long run humanity may degenerate into men and women whose IQ is wanting because they were fed on formula, as opposed to mother’s milk.

The African continent, which more than any other else needs sharp brains to overcome its helplessness, should view some feminist prescriptions with great suspicion. To be honest, feminism is not entirely a bad development. In the course of the past century, feminism in the West has eradicated the gender-based discrimination that had seen women denied the right to vote and paid lesser wages for the same work.

The West has ultimately moved from debating whether women are fully human to entrusting them with offices of huge responsibility. If the movement known as feminism is relatively new, interventions seeking to empower women date back to the birth of Islam in Seventh Century Arabia.

Islam started by banning and eradicating female infanticide, which the Arabs practiced because they considered female children an economic burden to the family, an unwanted baggage that consumed without creating wealth. The birth of such an unproductive being came with untold disgrace to the father.

To regain his honour, the parent was required to bury the new born alive, as the Qur’an narrates in Surah An-Nahl, or 16:58-59:

And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is their decision.

Driven by almost the same reasons, gender-selective killing remains prevalent today in China, where it’s partly fuelled by the government one-child policy, and in India, where it’s encouraged in part by the fear to pay dowry to the bridegroom.

The Qur’an refuted the idea that the girl child brings poverty to the family when it declared, “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.” (17:31)

Having saved the life of the woman, Islam went ahead to empower her with the right to own property through her own initiatives and through inheritance.  In other civilizations where such rights were not guaranteed, for instance in western society, the oppressed woman kept on accumulating her anger until it exploded into feminism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The anger accumulated over the millennia radicalized her and prompted her to prescribe extreme measures for her emancipation. As if gaining access to education, employment and leadership was not freedom enough, the woman hankered after the right to undress and walk naked in public. This she said was freedom to express her sexuality.

In African culture nudity in public is not called freedom; it’s indecency at best and insanity at worst. Its local defenders are generally understood to be under the influence of something not quite right. 

Their strange behavior has dented the image of feminism and may come to affect reasonable campaigns for women empowerment. It may be reasonable to empower a woman with whatever she needs to qualify for a decent job, but it’s totally senseless to give her half of the hard-earned assets of a man simply because they were married.

This is the radicalism that has failed the Marriage and Divorce Bill. Whereas the bill claims only “matrimonial property” can be shared at the time of divorce, it goes ahead to define such property partly as any “property which a spouse has made a contribution towards”.

The nature and extent of the said contribution is however unclear. If the conjugal comfort that a man gets from his wife contributes to his performance at work, does it entitle her to 50 percent of his earnings?

It will be in the interest of women activists to make realistic demands if they wish to remain relevant. Some of these prescriptions have been accepted elsewhere but Uganda is not elsewhere. Rights are not exercised in a vacuum – they are enjoyed within a context of realities, including cultural realities that differ from one people to another.

If tradition requires one to seek for the consent of their parents before getting married, what is so inhuman with that? Senseless insensitivity to tradition has portrayed the African feminist as an agent of foreign influence and only served to isolate her.

Whereas the feminist has some genuine grievances, she needs to overcome the radicalism driving her to prescribe extreme measures that create more problems than they solve. Encouraging spouses to rush to the courts of law to solve every bedroom problem weakens more than it strengthens marriage.

Every culture has a mechanism of solving marital problems. It is these mechanisms that should be strengthened instead of importing and imposing alien solutions to destabilize society.

The feminist should take time to understand the culture in which she operates before proposing interventions that betray her ignorance of local customs. She needs to learn that comparative advantage rather than gender discrimination explains many of the roles that society tags to male or female.

In the same way African men should end their barefaced exploitation of women that has given feminism grounds to insult and fight innocent African customs. No pretext should be given to foreign-imposed solutions, which are usually insensitive and destructive.



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