‘Men are scum and responsible for every female problem, the sooner you accept that, the more peaceful your online experience’ – A smart tweeter
But our hero is deeply flawed. If this were a movie, this junction would be the second act where our hero struggles with her identity and her mandate.
As a humanist, I’m delighted with the conversational rise in priority that feminism has achieved in recent times. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the quality of conversation or the leaders of the movement who have led and dominated the conversation in modern day’s town square - the social media. The chaotic and vindictive nature of the conversation today has created a division among believers of this ideologue and encouraged the misconception of what the movement is about.
If we think of the human experience as a ladder, each major problem we’ve faced over the years such as quenching hunger, building large complex societies, inventing language, war; reinventing the dynamic between the two genders is the next step in our social evolutionary ladder and it’s highly important that we get it right.
Back to our villain - patriarchy, the subject of the warfare of words on the 21 century battlefield. To solve a problem, you must first understand it and a villain with such devastating effect on an entire gender is no exception. So let’s meet Patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a beast that was unwittingly formed in the embers of the stone age. Biology of both genders took precedent and divided responsibilities in human society at the time along biological lines. Men who were physically stronger took on the more physically daunting tasks and the women had their pick of responsibilities from the ‘less demanding’ tasks such as taking care of children, cooking and tending to the home.
Like a dispersed seed during a windy afternoon, the foundations of patriarchy were laid unbeknownst to the creators. When different pockets of human tribes all over the planet adopted that intuitive and logical strategy in their various small societies they had anything in mind other than creating an efficient system that guaranteed their survival. For both genders in their environment, it was just common sense.
With that system established, it became a tradition to live by. New kids get born, the boys know what to do, the girls know their role. Our ancestors were running a well-oiled machine of gender roles. Along the way, a typical human flaw set in and they made the mistake of attaching a higher value to the male role over the female role. It probably wasn’t done with a malicious intent either. With protection of women and kids a part of the male role, seniority of purpose was given to those whose job was to keep the rest safe.
Then entered the annoying brother of patriarchy - socialization.
If patriarchy is a Machiavellian mob boss, socialization is his large muscled enforcer. With patriarchal ideas and systems established, the socialization (brainwashing, to be more crude) of newborns into this system ensured that those ideas would last hundreds and thousands of generations.
Ideas and Systems only last for as long as people implement them. Despite the fact patriarchal system was realized in the minds of our ancestors thousands of years ago, it kept manifesting in the social dynamic of both genders as our evolution continued. We were no longer hapless preys to predators in the wild having developed advanced tools and risen to the top of the food chain but the logic that helped us survive as preys stayed with us. Hunting skills were replaced with factory work, spears and knives replaced with pen and paper but women were still supposed to be weaker creatures, meant to be protected and kept from male roles.
If it seems ridiculous and primitive that our ancestors stuck with that system despite the fact we were no longer faced with the challenges that birthed them, it’s because the large muscled enforcer did a number on them. The patriarchal system wasn’t built on choice. There was no ‘hey, if you are up for grabbing spears and knives to fight the marauding tribe next forest over, show your hands’, straws were picked along gendered lines, no questions asked.
There is no reason to believe there wasn’t a young boy who would rather sit back at home and make clothing from animal skin instead of going hunting for a tiger that has been terrorizing the village for weeks but he was male and the latter was his duty as a member of the male gender.
When people grow into a way of life, seeing everyone around them live the same way, no questions asked, they tend to believe that’s the only way to live. From kids who grow up to adulthood, they are so used to living a certain way with certain principles they can’t imagine something else. Then they pass that way of life to their kids, then their kids grow up and pass it down to their own kids.
Even when dissenters who disagree with an element in their way of life or just in search of a better environment leave their community and start new ones, they still exhibit some, if not all of the tradition they grew up on. It is the reason that despite the amount of migration that needed to happen for human species to cover the planet, despite the variation in culture, they all mostly still found themselves living under patriarchal models.
In the arsenal of our well-chiseled enforcer is religion. When humanity was faced with an existential crisis, trying to find answer for its new status on the planet, it created religion. As we know, creations are a reflection of their creators. A society that was established and lives on patriarchal principles was only going to imbibe those principles into the laws of religion. With the acceptance of religion, patriarchal principles were no longer just sustained by the power of culture, they were now proclamations of an imagined divine entity. As empires grew and colonial masters rose, spreading their tentacles across the planet, the doctrine of patriarchy was cemented as a global culture.
To wonder why patriarchy still exists with such fervor in our society despite our knowledge of the fallacy of the patriarchy logic, is to ignore the power and lasting effect of socialization. It’s like trying to mold a vase that's already passed through fire into a cup. I recently caught myself making a sexist comment. Such is the depth of my social brainwashing such that for someone like myself whom I consider to be a staunch feminist, I couldn't prevent the patriarchal mindset of my local parlance from manifesting itself until I paid conscious attention to it, apologized and cautioned myself yet I've spent the past 5 years consciously unlearning my patriarchal inclinations. Now imagine someone who hasn't heard of the word patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a combination of different elements that has evolved simultaneously with the human race. It’s deeply ingrained in our collective mindset such that it would take a fierce and consistent wave of resocialization of ourselves and the conditioning of future children with progressive mindset to untangle the human race from its web. However, not everyone understands, nor agrees with this.
Meet twitter feminists, third wave feminists who have risen up with the popularity of social media. They are a group of people whose beliefs and actions on gender related matters are misandrist and tyrannical in nature. They are driven by an undeniable belief that men are responsible for every female problem and they all, on some philosophical level hate women.
You’ve probably interacted with one. Your rational and calm thoughts on gendered matters are met with a barrage of insults and declarations that you do not love women, you enjoy watching them suffer or any variation of that sentiment. If you have experienced any of this, then you my friend have met a Twitter Feminist.
The term ‘twitter feminist’ might suggest this type of people exist only on Twitter, but no. This type of ‘feminist’, while their prominent place of expression is often on social media (Twitter), they exist in other planes too. The term ‘twitter feminist’ is not about where they play but rather about their beliefs and the way they project those beliefs onto the general population.
Twitter feminism suffers from a complete disregard for logic and rationality. Your average twitter feminist represents a bug that is increasingly becoming the notable feature of the modern age program, the oversimplification of issues by making out a group of people the enemy.
The biggest problem here is the pollution and hijacking of the Feminist ethos. Those who are new to the feminist movement no longer see it as the gender equality and patriarchy dismantling movement that it really is, but rather as the movement for the installation of a new oppressor.
The militarization of the feminist movement by twitter feminists is creating a culture of silence among opposing school of thoughts, especially those who still favor patriarchy. Their silence is seen as support or reformation while they quietly go on living their patriarchal beliefs. It was a mistake perpetuated by liberals and Hillary Clinton supporters that resulted in a shock around the world when Donald Trump was elected and Twitter Feminists are doing the same.
Dear Twitter feminist, I understand the frustration of your existence; I understand your trepidation as someone who has to go out every day dreading assault from a member of the opposite gender; I understand the pain from your past experiences and the mental scars it’s left on you; but none of those is a license to condescend and insult those who seek discourse with you. None of those make the entire male population your enemy and more importantly, none of those is a reason to destroy the progress that true feminists have made over the years.
Written by Seun Adelowokan
Seun Adelowokan is a humanist. Big believer in common sense. Arsenal lover.