Ukamaka Olisakwe is feminist author, short-story writer, and screenwriter. She has a novel Eyes of A Goddess as well as being featured on the list of Africa39 writers. She gave a moving treatise on feminism that you have to read. Here it is with her kind permission.
For the past few days, I have been following a conversation on what feminism is about. As usual, there were the usual demonisation or support for the concept behind feminism.
Often, there are the usual mistake of sweeping the shades of feminism with one brush, just like a female may tend to brand all men evil after experiencing a life-changing and soul-shattering rape experience.
But I found a better way of explaining what feminism is to me after I saw the conversation on Lupita Nyong’o instagram page. She is currently in her home country Kenya and has massively drawn and continues to draw attention to her country’s tourism by sharing pictures of her safari adventures.
Yesterday, she shared the picture in my previous post and the comment about how she witnessed a pride of lions feasting on their prey: the males eat first, then cubs, before the female lions. As usual it spurred the expected conversation about how the man is the head, how the woman must eat/come last.
That prompted me to research about lions, and here is what I learned.
The female lions are superb hunters. The males are weaker and tire easily, unlike the female. The females move in packs and work together. They split while hunting; while one group chases the prey, another waits to ambush. The point is that the female lions bring food home. And then they stand by and watch their males eat first, their cubs and then the females complete the ritual. Mind you, the females do not go hungry.
But what do the men really do? Do they laze around and prance about in their awesomeness? No. They are the territory defenders. They mark their territories with their urine. They battle the hyenas who always come to steal their food. They ingrain fear in the cheetahs and leopards.
The relationship stunned me. The whole pride survive in unity because of this distinct division of labour, and what’s more important is that they are actively involved in the survival of their pride.
And so I laughed at the folks mocking the feminists on Lupita Nyongo’s IG page, those who told us to go preach our “feminism” in the animal kingdom.
You see, the pride of lions tells the perfect story of what feminism is to me: it is about unity with the man. We hold hands to strengthen our territory and raise our children; no one is relegated to the background. I can aggressive work and earn income and save for our children’s future and I wouldn’t be told to sit on my ass and wait on a man to do my job.
Without each other, we are weakened, we crumble, we fall apart; we are nothing. We need each other to survive and in turn we raise strong children.
Feminism, to me, is about equality and unity, and not about intimidation.
Weeks ago I wrote about how I work like I want to drop dead yesterday. I do that because that’s how my mother raised me, and that how I and my partner run our home; we join forces. We are human beings and no one is a slave to the other; that is feminism.
Feminism, to me, is not about putting a man down, no. It is not encouraging man-hate, hell no. It is not about intimidating my man, no way. It is about family and union and communion and love and family.
That is what feminism is to me.
Sadly, that is not always obtainable in many societies. That’s why feminists will not shut up and flow with whatever the society met out on children, women and men.
We have a lot to learn from the lions. We should all learn why they are and are called LIONS.