On Feminism | The Box And The Charm Of Hate

“…the best dads, husbands, [wives, friends] brothers and uncles are not defined by your -isms because they don’t need them.
The greatest people cannot be put in a box.
Their depths are too profound for… sociopolitical labels.” 
 Tokunbo Akintola

 

If we put someone in a category, let’s say, we stick him into some box or group, then we have made it simple to point accusing fingers saying, “See, we aren’t like that person over there and he should bear the blame for everything that goes wrong.” We dispossess him of what makes him an individual, consequently eliminating any reason for dialogue–and like several things we are versed at, this action dehumanizes him.

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Just cast your mind on all the moulds we create Female, Male, Christian, Muslim, Black, White, PDP, APC, Victim, Perpetrator, Enabler, South South, North East, This School Of Thought, That School Of Thought, Wailer, Hailer, Efulefus, Biafran. We do these things in sports, even within our personal lives–heck, I see people come online to lay curses on “all those APC members” because they are “Foolani slaves.” Like seriously, Slaves?!

For instance, years back, 2015, I used to be exactly like this. My boss, Viola Okolie (then just a mere Facebook friend) and I argued endlessly and bitterly on Politics–the Presidential elections was just around the corner. The arguments were so bitter, I immediately tagged her, and a host of others with contrary views, a political jobber–for me, they were what was wrong with the country. Smh. How naive of me.

 

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And you know, we don’t just stick people into boxes. People also fit themselves in these boxes in order to take on an identity. Take another look at the categories mentioned above, they all are means of self validation for some people, even as much as they are means of blame for the rest. “This is what my group is called, this is what our values are hinged on, so we are way better than you.”

Think of the expressions we utilize. You would hear, “all these PDP people,” and not, “they voted PDP.” You would most likely hear, “he is one misogynist…” and not “I saw him engage in acts that are disrespectful to [some] women.”

The last example struck you, right? We know, that’s some delicate issue.

There are those of us who have watched males dishonour, brutalize and discriminate women. We have seen women and men, people that could make them accountable, pretend as though nothing was wrong all because of company policy or career goals. And these days, with the activism, influence and acceptability that feminism presents, especially in the modern day digital world, it is far from difficult to toss the reputation of these individuals we slap the “misogynist” label on to bloodthirsty beasts.

But then, slapping them with the misogynist label – fitting them into the box – that’s an easy way out. If we take on this approach, we just might find ourselves doing same with issues that aren’t clearly black or white.

This subject is very personal for me as an individual. I once worked at an organization where the people shielded a man that did such. I’ve witnessed the hurt it induced in working women and the people that stood with them, and there’s nothing I’ll love than toss these people standing with an oppressor to wolves. But then, I still insist, every person ought to be heard and condemned based on their very own positives (or negatives) — and not based on their membership of some categories they are assigned to.

This is my reason: the boxes cause it to be difficult to empathize–particularly at times we are on the opposing sides of people’s values or behaviors. But then, empathy is the exact thing we ought to feel. Why? Every single person is one complex human possessing an original set of desires, influences and needs. Each person has some story that is entirely theirs, and not anything like what you would think it should be.

We ought to begin at empathy, move on with discussion amidst understanding.

Truth is, placing people ingories a quick means to condemning, hating on them, as the tool to swaying the thoughts of masses–this won’t go away. But one can alter the way one thinks. With deliberate thoughts, one can react differently–free people from the box consequently, realigning our attitudes.

And that, right there, is exactly how we free our minds from the charm of hate.

To be human is beautiful.

Dr. Cum

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