The Simple Reason Feminism Exists

For me, being a feminist is not just a tag or a title; it is a way of life. It is not an outfit one wears and takes off when it suits. It’s in your speech, your actions, and the choices you make that affect women and women’s rights. When people hear you speak, they know without being told that you’re an advocate for women and believe in equal opportunities for women. 

To hear some men moan about feminists, you would think that feminism is the bane of their existence and that feminists are out to murder them. Many have dubbed feminists “Man Haters” for speaking up against a system that subjects women to forced subservience, abuse, and death. Every day there is a religious man quoting the Bible to tell us how grave a sin feminism is and threatening us with remaining single and lonely in our old age. It is wild when you think about the fact that they threaten us with being miserable simply because we speak up against their mistreatment and disregard for women, our feelings, and our welfare and demand better from men in general.

When I first actively joined the feminist movement and called myself a feminist, some of the “Man Hater” tags bothered me. I was quick to differentiate my kind of feminism to explain that I wasn’t a man-hater but was just a woman who believed that women deserved equal opportunities and the freedom to make their own decisions and pursue their own dreams.

After a while, I stopped caring about what anyone thought after I told them I was a feminist. Now, when I see angry men crying about feminists on Twitter, I chuckle. The main thing feminists want is the right to be ourselves as individuals and not be subjected to male domination and forced submissiveness. Feminists want women to be able to go places by themselves without having to pretend to have a man nearby to avoid possible sexual harassment or assault. To see members of the gender that wants to oppress us grumbling because we are fighting the very oppression they’re trying to force on us is ironic.

One question that always baffles me is this: Why are men so desperate to dominate women? Why is your ability to be your best self dependent on another person being subservient to you? Why do you need a woman to be submissive to feel important and respected? 

There was a time when I naively believed that men did not understand the importance of equality. But I have come to know that they indeed do. They know the importance of everyone being equal when it affects them because black men understand equality when it comes to racism. Ironically, they fight the white man for acting superior to them but see nothing wrong with forcing their own perceived superiority on women. 

Feminists have been dubbed “Men Haters” because we refuse to subject ourselves to patriarchy. Feminists fight against patriarchy because it is impossible for women to flourish and live safely and happily in a patriarchal environment, which allows misogyny to thrive. Misogyny is hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women, and each day there is more evidence that the average man is a misogynist.

How can we live our best lives when our choices, freedom, and opportunities are limited just by virtue of our sex and we are hated just for being women?

The idea that men are superior to women is very dangerous because it creates a sense of entitlement in men, which is conditioned in them from infancy; that they should have control over women, their bodies, their choices, service, and growth. It gives them the erroneous mindset that no woman should perform better than them in any aspect. Many women suffer domestic abuse as a result of that sense of entitlement—the kind of entitlement that makes male acquaintances believe that the women around them should cook and clean for them just because they are women. Men beat up their wives to a pulp because they didn’t cook for them by the time they got home, abuse women for refusing their proposals, and kill young girls simply for doing better than them in a sport. In a society where women are believed to be less than men, misogyny thrives. If patriarchy didn’t exist, women would be safer, happier, and more productive, living more fulfilling lives on their own terms without fear or harm.

It is ironic how women are accused of playing hard to get when we are cautious before allowing relationships or intimacy with men and are accused of being too emotional about sex when we still get slutshamed if we act unemotional about sex. 

When I was younger, I was taught to be wary of strangers. I was told about the dangers of being out late at night or being alone in any capacity with a stranger. I was taught to be careful when I go out and not to leave my drink unattended, or else a stranger could spike it. As I grew older, I didn’t need statistics to tell me that women are not safe with men in their circle either and that family and friends could even be more dangerous than the strange men I was warned against. From personal experience and from stories from my circle of female friends and acquaintances, it became quite clear that women are not safe with men either way. Women do not only have to be wary of strangers harming us, but also of the men around us who are supposed to care for us too. 

According to data published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2022, every eleven minutes, a woman is murdered somewhere in the world by an intimate partner or a family member. While the majority of male murders occur outside the home, for an overwhelming 58% of female murders, the perpetrators are the very people women are supposed to be safe with. While most men can be assured of safety at home, for women, the most dangerous place to be is home. 

Men swear all feminists are misandrists, but how many of those supposed misandrists are abusing and killing men the way misogynists are doing to women? 

African men call feminists on Twitter “Angry Feminists”, but to quote a tweet by @ulxma, a popular Nigerian feminist on Twitter, “1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most before their 18th birthday and by men close to them. We are not angry enough.” And indeed, we’re not.

Feminism and the reason it exists can be explained in many technical terms, all of them true and right, but for me, the simple reason feminism exists is that patriarchy exists, and patriarchy kills women. What does feminism mean to you, and why do you think its existence is important for women?

To read more about the UNODC Research brief on femicide, go to:

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