• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Gender war: From women’s emancipation to men’s eradication

Gender war: From women’s emancipation to men’s eradication

The struggle for gender equality has been a long and ongoing fight, marked by significant milestones in women’s rights. However, alongside these advancements, a fringe movement with extremist ideologies has emerged, advocating for harmful rhetoric. For instance, some groups promote the complete dismissal of men’s perspectives.

The obvious mischievous agenda to vilify and “cancel” men soon became a battle of “cakes” and “hot takes” on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. While the pioneers of the meme did not mince words in making their opinions and thoughts known about anything that typically personified men, it would seem that their darts were specifically being thrown at religious leaders, husbands, and every subject that represented and exalted patriarchy. Bystanders, and especially women, who dared to counter these opinions, were soon labelled as enablers of patriarchy. Their own reservation was that even though we would always amplify and advocate for women’s empowerment, they would not subscribe to any feminist agenda that is disguised as a vendetta against men. In the long run, things fell apart like a stack of cards, and the centre could no longer hold.

The fight for women’s emancipation has a long history, with women challenging oppressive norms and discrimination for centuries. From the suffragette movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the first wave of feminism in the 18th and 19th centuries, women demanded equal rights, opportunities, and recognition. These movements directly led to significant legal and social advancements, including voting rights, access to education and employment, and reproductive rights. However, cultural traditions and political progress often lagged behind. This is a major reason why gender inequality persists in various forms, such as the gender pay gap, underrepresentation in leadership, and gender-based violence. As a result, contemporary feminism continues to advocate for dismantling patriarchal structures and achieving gender justice.

Closely linked to patriarchy is misogyny, a deep-seated hatred, contempt, or prejudice against women or girls. It manifests in various forms, including discrimination, violence, objectification, and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes and gender roles that devalue and marginalise women. Misogyny can be overt, such as verbal abuse or physical violence, or subtle, expressed through microaggressions, double standards, or systemic inequalities. It often stems from patriarchal beliefs and social structures that prioritise and award male dominance and perpetuate the subjugation of women. Misogyny not only harms individual women but also undermines gender equality and perpetuates a culture of sexism and oppression.

As misogyny is an extremist ideology on the one hand, so is misandry on the other. Misandry is a deep-rooted prejudice, contempt, or hatred directed towards men or boys. Like misogyny, misandry can manifest in various forms, including stereotypes portraying men as inherently violent, aggressive, or emotionally stunted. It can also involve discriminatory attitudes or actions against men based solely on their gender. Misandry, like misogyny, is harmful because it perpetuates gender-based discrimination and undermines efforts to achieve equality between genders. It’s important to note that while misogyny and misandry both exist, they operate within different historical and social contexts, and addressing one does not justify or excuse the other.

No doubt, feminism (especially in the Western world) has largely been instrumental in advancing women’s rights, but the ideologies of misandry pose a huge hindrance to the social impact of feminism and gender equality. Some radical factions within feminist movements that adopted this ideology argue that patriarchy is irredeemable and advocate for radical measures to address gender inequality, including the eradication of men. The emergence of online echo chambers, social media platforms, and virtual advocates (netizens) has facilitated the spread of extremist ideologies, leading to the proliferation of toxic discourse and polarised narratives on gender issues. Terms such as “toxic masculinity” and “male privilege” have become commonplace in discussions about gender dynamics, often leading to heightened tensions and divisiveness.

The rise of misandry poses significant challenges to societal cohesion and gender relations. By framing gender issues as a zero-sum game pitting women against men, extremist ideologies undermine the collaborative efforts necessary for achieving genuine equality and social justice. Moreover, promoting hostility and animosity towards men perpetuates harmful stereotypes and exacerbates gender-based discrimination and violence. In actual fact, the demonization of men overlooks the nuanced realities of gender dynamics, ignoring the intersectional nature of oppression and marginalisation. Men themselves have been recognised to be victims of gender-based violence, discrimination, and societal expectations that constrain their emotional expression and personal fulfilment.

To effectively address the root causes of gender inequality, it is essential to reject extremist ideologies that promote division and hostility between genders. Rather, efforts should focus on fostering empathy, understanding, and collaboration to challenge patriarchal norms and create a more equitable and inclusive society for all. In submerging patriarchy and all tools of engagement, including misogyny, we should not enthrone misandry. The effect of this subtle indoctrination is yet to be seen, but it is gradually taking shape, even in schools. Centuries ago, when women were not to be seen or heard, we are now interfacing with a world where men will neither be seen nor heard.

One then wonders if the essence of advocating for women’s empowerment and affirmative actions for women’s participation in leadership is that we would get to a world where men are left behind, as is the case with women. By amplifying the voices of marginalised communities and highlighting the intersections of gender with other forms of oppression, society can move towards a more equitable and just future. One thing must therefore be clear in all gender equality narratives and agendas: every form of extremism is evil, whether it is misandry or misogyny; it must be shunned. To address the root causes of gender inequality, it is essential to reject divisive narratives, promote the need to preserve and protect humanity, promote human empathy and compassion, and advocate for human collaboration and understanding. These values are not gender-sensitive or cognitive. By working together to challenge patriarchal norms and foster inclusivity, society can move closer to realising the principles of equality and justice for all genders.

Ifenla Oligbinde is a Nigerian lawyer, writer, inclusion advocate, and politician with over 10 years of experience in project management and community development. She was the first and only Nigeria selected for the McCain Global Leaders program in 2023, and one of 700 African Leaders for the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship, to study Leadership in Public Management track at the Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.