The question of feminism and equality continues to rage as more women embrace the call for their “rights”. Is this an advocacy you should subscribe to. Men, Feminism and the Future was the theme of a talk Presented by Abigail Anaba at the HaloTalks, Abuja. It addresses the issue of feminism and equality. The text is reproduced below.
Have you ever worked with Legos?
Legos help kids exercise their hands and muscles. As they put the Legos together, it helps them think.
In this talk we are going to be working with Legos, in a manner of speaking. We are going to think about the life of men now and in the future by building on one key word: feminism.
Let us start by defining Men.
Who is a man?
Let’s think about this for a moment.
If we are to believe that the universe was conceived by a great and intelligent Mind and that this Mind played a role in the emergence of man, then we will agree that if He is to add any differentiators or distinguishers between the male and female of the same species, they will originate from the mind. What we often refer to as the mind is situated in our brain (even though we sometimes think of the heart when we are talking about the mind).
And if we do not believe that the universe is the product of a great mind? Perhaps, we believe in evolution? In natural selection, in the big bang theory or a random step by step mutation? We will still agree that if there are to be differentiators, it would start from the mind. This is why neuroscientists, are studying neural correlations of homosexuality and transgenderism. If indeed, these preferences can be traced to the mind, then should gender differentiators also not be found in the brain?
Surely, the mind which is command center of thought leading to action should be the locale for any gender differentiators.
Philosophers and Scientists have long been fascinated by the mind. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle had ideas about the differences between the male and female minds and they translated those differences into social norms. If you compare the beliefs of the ancient Greeks to that of the modern scientists, you may discover that not much has changed. The fundamental difference is not in what makes a man but in the relationship between men and women.
Defining Man, A Historical Perspective
For many years, scientists only reckoned with the outward, physical properties of humans. The man has a penis, the woman has a vagina, women had bigger breasts and get pregnant, men didn’t. They didn’t concern themselves with neurological differences. Precisely, it was just about 25 years ago, in the United States, that the Revitalization Act was passed requiring researchers to include women in clinical studies and analyze their results by sex or gender.
In contrast, the philosophers of ancient Greece were more concerned with the mind. Aristotle posited for example that women acted more impulsively and deceptively than men. He said they were more complaining. He linked these traits to their biology – not very flattering I must say. But Aristotle also believed something else: He believed that women were more compassionate, and that society could not be happy unless women were happy too. If you have been reading the findings of neuroscientists today, you will find that Aristotle does not lose many marks for inaccuracy.
So, who is a man?
In defining who a man is, I will marry the philosopher’s thoughts to scientific research. A man has the physical characteristics that are consistent with the male sex as well as the neurological construction attributed to the male gender.
Let me quickly say that throughout this talk, except when clearly stated gender and sex will be used interchangeably.
You are a man when you look like a man, that is you have the physical characteristics of a man; and think like a man, that is you have the neurological capabilities of a man.
To put it simply: You are a man in mind and body.
In fact, although scientists were originally more inclined to think of man physiologically, a venture into neuroscience reveals that even the brain is gendered. Two important parts of the brain the hypothalamus and the amygdala are structured and function differently between a man and a woman. The philosophers may be right, the neurological differences between man and woman are manifested in their physical traits and actions. Also, if we are to believe Darwin and his theory of natural selection: nature selected these differences because they are superior and would serve humankind best. If you believe in creation, then you would agree, God made it so.
Scientific Findings Regarding Sex and Gender
A 2017 study, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, named Stuart Ritchie, which had over 5,000 subjects (2750 women and 2466 men aged 44–77) undergo MRI scans showed that “men had higher brain volumes than women in every subcortical region they looked at, including the hippocampus (which plays broad roles in memory and spatial awareness), the amygdala (emotions, memory, and decision-making), striatum (learning, inhibition, and reward-processing), and thalamus (processing and relaying sensory information to other parts of the brain).”
Now you may ask: why is this important?
You may strongly believe in equality of the sexes and that belief may make you think that any spotlight on the differences between the male and female gender is to use a Social Justice Warrior word “problematic”. You may think that we should be more concerned about building a society where equal rights reign supreme.
Well, here’s the thing: A belief in equality takes away your agency. Your agency is your capacity as an individual to act independently and to make your own free choices. When that agency is taken away, you will not be happy. What did Aristotle say again?
Oh yes, he said: society cannot be happy unless women are happy too.
So we have a cycle of happiness based on interdependence of men and women and not on equality of the sexes.
The fight for equality negates the principle of interdependence.
What is Interdependence?
Interdependence means two people have a close personal relationship; they live together; one or each of them provides the other with financial support; and one or each of them provides the other with domestic support and personal care.
So, why is the quest for interdependence more virtuous than seeking equality? To answer this question, let us take a critical look at the umbrella through which men are being bullied to give up their agency – feminism.
Just what is Feminism?
This might seem like an odd question to be asking in 2019. But, we need to define terms so we know what we are all on the same page. A definition that a lot of people like to use is ripped straight out of the dictionary. It presents an ideal that would make people give you a second and third look if you, after hearing it, still insist on not being addressed as a feminist.
Cambridge dictionary defines Feminism as “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.” Sounds innocuous! Who in their right senses would not want women to have the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way?
Feminism and Access
So advocates claim that feminism is about access to equal opportunities. They say it is a struggle to ensure that men and women have the same fundamental human rights. Human rights include: Right to self-determination, Right to liberty, Right to due process of law, Right to freedom of movement, thought, religion expression, assembly and association. But if feminism was just about ensuring that men and women enjoy these rights, then we would not need feminism as a standalone struggle. It would come under the platform of human rights.
Have you ever wondered why feminism is not generally seen as a subset of human rights?
Feminism is advocacy for men and women to have the same rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes. Feminism is steeped in Marxism and is inherently anti-family. Like someone said, read the book Mein Kampf and replace everything said about the destruction of the parliamentary system with destruction of family and patriarchy and you will have the feminist manifesto.
Let us unbundle this.
What is wrong with fighting for equality?
Did God not create us all equal? And are we not all of equal standing before Him? Well, I would really love for anyone to share with me one verse of the Bible which says that all men are equal. The Greek word translated equal, ‘isotes’ is used twice in the part of the bible text originally written in Greek. It is used by Paul in 2nd Corinthian 8: 13-14 with respect to equalizing of material resources. He also uses a form of the word in Colossians 4:1 when he talks about masters and slaves and urges masters to treat their slaves “fairly”. This gives us the idea that although the Bible frowns at racism, ethnicism and partiality, all of this is in regard to treating everyone “fairly”.
Okay, so you don’t believe in creation. Natural selection has thrown up men and women. What is wrong with everyone being treated equally, enjoying the same rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes? Well, what has neuroscience showed? Stuart and his colleagues study mentioned earlier showed there were “14 regions where men had higher brain volume and 10 regions where women did”. We all agree that men are on the average physically stronger than women, where do you think is the control center for all our thoughts and actions? Would it be fair to treat people of differing strengths equally?
Is fairness and equality not the same thing?
Well, not exactly.
Let’s understand this better by looking at the human portrayal of Lady Justice.
You must have seen Lady Justice, perhaps in front of a court or in a book that talks about law. Lady Justice wears a blind fold she doesn’t see race or colour or language or gender. She sees everyone as equal. She also carries a pair of scales, which means that she weighs evidence before meting out justice. Then there is the sword that faces downwards below the scale signifying that evidence is always considered before any action is taken.
So, a man lies dead in a room and another stands accused
Blind justice would judge his death as murder, equality demands that if a man has died another should die. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But, the scale would weigh the evidence. Was it premeditated murder? Was he killed in self-defense? Was it unintended death? Did he commit suicide?
When the evidence is considered, justice decides whether the accused is guilty of 1st degree murder, manslaughter or whether he should walk free.
While justice sees all as equal, fairness demands that you apply different measures and judge issues on a case by case basis. Fairness is greater than equality.
What Feminism Says Vs What Feminism Does
Yet, in explaining what they mean by equality, feminists will tell you that what they mean is equal access to opportunity. They will say that Feminism recognizes that men and women are different. That equality does not mean sameness. That they mean equal dignity. But this is a disingenuous position.
Let’s back up a little. Why are feminists fighting for equality? The logical explanation is that, they want equality because it does not exist. You will not be fighting to get something that you already have. So why does equality not exist? What fosters inequality?
A United Nations Publication titled, MEN IN FAMILIES and Family Policy in a Changing World says “One of the core enduring symptoms of gender inequality globally is the unequal work-life divide—stemming from the fact that men are generally expected to be providers and breadwinners (who work mostly outside the home) and women and girls are generally expected to provide care or to be chiefly responsible for reproductive aspects of family life.” It continues, “The bottom line is that men’s participation in care work has not kept pace with women’s increased contribution to household income and their work outside the home, and that women’s income is still less than men’s (even when they perform similar kinds and amounts of work).”
If we go by Darwin’s theory of natural selection which states that “individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive,” then it would seem that nature selected inequality. If this is the case, then fighting inequality would be fighting nature, would it not?
Feminists will tell you that the problem is patriarchy, a social construct. They will pretend that they do not know that social constructs are built on natural abilities. They will tell you that to achieve equality, they need to dismantle the patriarchy. Do you know what patriarchy is?
Feminism and the Problematic Patriarchy
A quick definition is that patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. In other words, the problem is the power that men have – the power that makes men dominate leadership roles, legislate on morality, men just being men, male privilege.
Why are there more men in leadership roles?
Well, a few research works have delved into that question. A study by the University of Bradford School of Management in 2012, threw up the shocking revelation that traits associated with men in general are seen to be more suited for leadership. Qualities such as decisiveness, negotiating skills, and ambitiousness. These are traits controlled by the amygdala which is larger in men than in women.
Can you remember what our definition of man is?
You are a man because you look like a man and you think like a man.
When you look like a man, and think like a man, then it follows that you will act like a man. Let’s make this clear: your masculinity, your maleness is based on the physiological and neurological differences that differentiate you from women. These differences give you unique advantages that make you more suited for certain roles in society. For example, testosterone makes you take more risks. This is not only responsible for more male mortality in society, that is more men are likely to die of high risk behaviour, but it is also responsible for there being more men in certain fields. For instance, there are more men in science. Even in countries where gender balance has been achieved, there are still more men in tech and science.
The Science of Patriarchy
Theoretical physicist at the University of Pisa, Alessandro Strumia, and his colleagues did “a bibliometric analysis using a public database of publications, references, authors and hiring decisions in fundamental physics world-wide over the past 50 years”. And what did they find? That there being more men than women in physics can be attributed to two factors:
- Gender differences in interests;
- Higher male variability (HMV).
You might find it interesting that The Greater Male Variability Hypothesis was first proposed by Charles Darwin, suggests that there are more men than women at both the bottom and the very top of the distribution for intelligence scores. Which explains why there are more men in science and tech.
So men are better at certain things just because they are men. Feminism recognizes these difference are the root cause of “inequality” and so they seek to dismantle it. How do they want to dismantle it? By seeking not just political but social sameness.
Feminism and Equality: 1975 Women’s Conference
Let us go back to I975, In Mexico and see what equality meant to women back then. See if any of these demands sound familiar:
I will quote the first three principles promulgated at the first Women’s conference
- Equality between women and men means equality in their dignity and worth as human beings as well as equality in their rights, opportunities and responsibilities.
- All obstacles that stand in the way of enjoyment by women of equal status with men must be eliminated in order to ensure their full integration into national development and their participation in securing and in maintaining international peace.
- Women and men have equal rights and responsibilities in the family and in society. Equality between women and men should be guaranteed in the family, which is the basic unit of society and where human relations are nurtured. Men should participate more actively, creatively and responsibly in family life for its sound development in order to enable women to be more intensively involved in the activities of their communities and with a view to combining effectively home and work possibilities of both partners.
They also hailed lifestyles such as engaging in consensual relationships that involved free and casual sex, single parent families, legalizing abortions and lesbianism.
Their base thinking was: Men spend more time outside the house, working and running the economy. We want the same for women. Women should work too and make equal pay. What is stopping women? The family is holding them back: marrying and having children. For women to achieve economic equality, they have to be men: do the types of high risk jobs that men do, abandon caring for their children and have the men step in to be house husbands if possible. Swap roles whenever possible. Discard men all together in certain scenarios because if women are economically empowered what do they need men for?
Women can take care of their own children. Man can just be sperm donors. And we can have sex whenever we want like men; emotional ties? What are those? Pregnancy? Legalize abortions. So if we do get pregnant, we don’t have to take responsibility. We can deny a pregnancy just like men, we can simply kick the “clump of cells” out of our womb. Feminism’s message to men is: You are obstacles in our way; we want you to leave us alone to do exactly what we want. We need to be independent from you. We want the freedom to make our own decisions; if possible, we would have built our own world where you will not play a part.
Granted these may sound extreme. Feminism has been divided such that some feminists feel a superiority of opinion over others and so will not give them airtime. Some opinions are regarded as feminist ‘lite’ and therefore should not be considered.
As it turns out, not all feminists are created equal.
Why is all of this important?
Have women not suffered enough? What is wrong with men suffering if that will bring equality. And I ask, is this fair?
The future is Interdependence
Back in 1975, the advocates for equality said some of their goals will be achieved in a decade. 40 years later, feminists are still talking about the same things, in the same ways and achieving the same results.
I am going to take us back to the beginning. For those who believe in creation through the religious perspective, I want to share something with you about the interdependent relationship between man and woman. We read that after God made man, he said: It is not good for the man to continue by himself.
Let’s think about that for a moment. Why was it not good?
The next sentence answers: I am going to make a helper for him to complete him.
So, it was not good because man was not complete. There was something missing. Adam while naming the animals had noticed it himself. Papa elephant and mama elephant, papa lion and mama lion, papa bear and mama bear, papa tortoise and mama tortoise. But just Papa Adam?
Note that Adam was perfect, yet not complete.
So God made a helper, a complement. We shall talk about those key phrases but first let’s look in on that first surgical operation: he took the rib out of man and used it as the fundamental raw material to make the woman. So, there is a part of man in the woman. I would not be wrong to say that in woman a man finds a key to unlock a new level – the helper level and then he is complete. The woman is the custodian of this key. Aristotle said: society cannot be happy unless women are happy. If the women in a society are not happy, they will not be willing to unlock this new level for the men.
Now let’s examine that word helper.
Who is a helper?
Some have seen the word helper as a subservient role. You will hear them say: you are just a helper, don’t come and take over. Or, I am just a helper, don’t come and leave everything for me.
But think about this: When do you need a helper? Is it not when you are overwhelmed? Imagine yourself sinking in quicksand and just as you sank almost to your shoulder someone appears and gives you a stick to hold on to and then pulled you to safety. If he sees you another time and asks that you give him a lift to the opposite end of town from where you were headed, would you hesitate to take him? Would you say, is it because you saved my life that you are trying to impose yourself on me?
Let’s look at another scenario. You are in a bus and you give the conductor N500, he said he does not have any change. The fare is N50. As you were wondering what to do a fellow passenger pays for you. And then as you get off the last busstop, he asks you to help him carry one of the bags being offloaded to his house. Would you not ask him if it is just because of N50 he thinks he can impose himself on you?
So our perception of the word helper and the way we feel about it is dependent on the type of assistance the helper is able to give. At its core, the biblical male to female relationship is one of interdependence.
Scientific Evidence Supporting Interdependence
Remember when we talked about the neurological differences between men and women. Stuart et al said there were “no average difference in intelligence, but males were more variable than females”. In other words, there were more men at both ends of the spectrum, more highly intelligent men and more men as scum *smiles*. But what about women? Not so much variability. Women were more “constant”. You need this constancy to be a helper.
So, let’s look at the meaning of the Hebrew word translated helper. What kind of help was intended?
The Hebrew word “ezer” meaning helper is found 21 times in the first part of the Bible written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Of the 21 times, it is used 16 times in reference to God. So when do you call out to God for help?
When you are overwhelmed, when you have no one else to turn to? When you need His strength? When you need someone more powerful?
Then, this is how you should think of a woman’s role in your life. When men begin to treat women in this way, the women would be happier. The synergy produced will be better than any fight for equality.
Let us not forget that men are more logical and decisive, women more emotional and compassionate. A synergy of both produces what has now been taught in some business schools as Transformational Leadership.
So, Dear Men, What is to be Done?
Aristotle said, society will not be happy unless women are happy too.
Has the fight for equality made women happy?
Not if we go by research:
In a paper titled, “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” published by the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association: “measures of subjective well-being indicate that women’s happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. The paradox of women’s declining relative well-being is found across various datasets, measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than did men. These declines have continued and a new gender gap is emerging — one with higher subjective well-being for men.”
Unequal but not Superior
You need to understand that men and women are not and will not be equal. The strength of society lies in interdependence of men and women. Also understand that the fact that men and women are not and cannot be equal does not mean that men are superior to women or that women are superior to men. It simple means that each sex is more suited for certain activities and will show greater proficiency in those activities. What needs to change is the social perception propagated by feminists that male traits are better or in some way superior to womens’ and is therefore the SI unit of what traits work best for society.
Men are more suited for leadership, does not mean that women cannot be great leaders. That a knife is more suited for slicing onions does not mean that I can’t tear onions to pieces with my fingers. It will simply produce different results.
A Real Man is a Responsible Man
I would like to take this time to warmly commend men, fathers and sons who have been doing their best to meet up with their responsibilities. You have been doing your best to provide materially for your families and loved ones despite the harsh economic and social climate. As a man, you are supposed to be a protector and provider. This is a God assigned role or if you choose a role assigned by evolutionary biology*smile*
Let me remind you, the women our fathers married are not the same as the women of today in mentality.
I found this chart of participation in the Nigerian Labour force from 1990- 2018 and I am sure you will find something curious about it too if you take a look at it.
Between 1990 and 2018, the percentage of women aged 15 and above who have participated in the labour force has increased. Look at this curve.
You may choose to interpret this data in a number of ways. You may choose to explain it off in a number of ways, but this much can be ascertained from the slope of the curves. As more women enter the workforce, more men exit. Overall, the number of men still in the workforce as at 2018, still remains higher than women but if this trend continues at the rate it is shown in the graph, how long do you think it will be before there will be more women working?
Well, someone might say, this is not a problem. Let those who want to work do so and those who don’t want to work can sit at home. I wish it was that easy. The bigger question is, how has this trend affected the quality of life?
Feminism, the quest for equality which produced that graph has not made women happier. This is because women are happiest in interdependent relationships
The study below shows that women in traditional relationships are the happiest women.
What makes a a traditional relationship? Interdependence. Husband and wife have a close personal relationship; they live together; one or each of them provides the other with financial support; and one or each of them provides the other with domestic support and personal care.
The Challenges of the 21st Century Man
Mothers under pressure be financially independent or to support husbands financially leave their children with strangers called nannies. Children are becoming more and more disobedient and unruly. Fathers losing grip on family leaving it to mothers. The truth really is that it takes the grace of God and a large dose of humility for a woman who provides for the family, who is financially more stable than her husband to bow to his headship. Someone compared it to a woman marrying a shorter man, how can she look up to him unless she is always sitting down?
Men need to step up and accept responsibility. A man’s life only has meaning when he takes full responsibility. Going back to our analogy of the duties of man compared to a tree by the way side. Of what use is the tree if it can’t provide shade? It is simply a waste of space and deserves to be cut down and thrown in the fire.
Our boys are exposed to the media. They have more time for TV, internet and music. They look for role models and what do they find? If you watch the children’s TV channels, you will see a recurring trope: Fathers dominated by their wives and saying stupid things while their wives take charge and have successful blossoming careers. These influences on impressionable minds can lead them into thinking that this is the way things should be.
Women can only be happy when men to rise up from their slumber. Yes, there are so many factors not in your favour. But your life literally depends on your stepping up and taking responsibility. I have said this a number of times because the prevailing thinking in the world is that people are responsibility averse. A young man has sex with a girl but is not bothered about taking care of her emotional needs. He will tell you, it is just sex and we both enjoyed it so why do I have to care beyond that. But these things have a ripple effect. This same young man will marry and not take responsibility for the emotional needs of his wife, he will say, she is a human being and should take care of herself.
But of what use is knowledge if you do not apply it?
If you do not treat the women in your life with respect, I do not know how you will treat your wife with respect.
There is a lot of chatter about bad men, so much chatter that it seems like there are no good men. This is happening because good men keep quiet. Keeping quiet is not helping. You need to speak up. Create your own cells and push your own narrative. Talk about how good other men are. Do your best to shut down stereotypes. Speak up on issues that affect you. Be it the so-called gender pay gap, abortion or any other issues.
And if you are one of those giving men a bad name, the time to change is now.
Do not buy into feminist lies. You are not scum, you are not trash, you are not a rapist, your masculinity is not toxic, Use your male privilege wisely and justly. Be there for the people you love. Be informed. Read. Don’t just repeat anecdotes. If something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t right.