Article by Nehi Igbinijesu
more than at any time in our history, we can predict the future. Not so
because we now have better clairvoyants or that new intelligence
software is able to tell exactly how things will pan out but because in
the words of management guru Peter Drucker, ‘The very best way to
predict the future is to create it.’
Social media analysts across
the world now say that based on certain trends on Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest and Instagram, they can predict a person’s behaviour, who will
win an election, how the product will react to a new product and so on.
In many ways, social media behaviour is both an indication of popular
thought and what could get reinforced at a subliminal level.
what are the things that are popular in Nigeria’s social media space
that has been a pointer to popular thought as well as what is getting
reinforced? While the pundits could offer something more comprehensive,
you would agree with these few:
- Pastor Bashing: a call for financial and general accountability among church leaders.
- Domestic Violence Unacceptability: a call out of domestic abusers in husband-wife and mistress-maid scenarios.
- Narcissism: the rise of the selfie, fitness videos and the ‘borrow, pose and snap’ culture, and
- Feminism: a clamour against female gender-stereotyping, anti-patriarchy, and male gender bashing.
feminism in the social media space is in focus, it is hard to say that
the others mentioned haven’t significantly altered and are still
altering public behaviour. We have seen more emboldened exchanges about
pastor accountability, domestic abuse, and narcissism with issues
skirting around these areas being debated for legislative purposes at
both state and federal levels of our government.
Feminism too has
had its fair share of social media spats and public debate but has been
put down, ever so often for its often perceived misdirection. In truth,
feminism in Nigeria has been well-conceived but poorly delivered maybe
because of the stark silence of the older generation about gender
equality or the men-bashing label that the younger generation of women
has taken on, often for bruising the fragile egos of their male peers.
Whatever the case is, feminism has largely gone unheard, with all of its
economic good and its political potential to reshape our country.
Chimamanda’s outspokenness on issues of feminism, which in my
estimation, is a battle she has now taken on for all the women of
Africa, the advocacy for women’s rights on the grounds of gender
equality at the grassroots has been nothing short of pouting about
sexual liberation, economic subsistence and gender discrimination on
social media in a way that does more harm than good. And please don’t
get me wrong, there have been many more women—but not enough—on the We Should All Be Feminists author’s course.
pop culture, for example, the silence of feminism has been deafening.
Forty-nine out of fifty newly released songs in Nigeria objectify women;
a guess perhaps, but the statistics around music videos are even more
damning when you consider how it pans out psychologically and
economically for the girl-child in today’s Nigeria.
education among young women has been another area of silence in feminist
circles. It is almost as though women—old and young—in Nigeria have
accepted to play the second fiddle in our political life. Methinks if
feminism is about the advocacy for equal treatment for women as men,
then political participation conversations like women encouraging other
women to vote candidates that will guarantee equality is something of a
must now that 2019 elections are twenty months away. Power concedes
nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will. And if you,
the feminist, aren’t now talking about political participation, how then
do you know what to demand?
Nigerian feminism has also turned a
blind eye to the proliferation of books and publications that support,
celebrate and help women’s health, women’s rights and women in STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine). And by way of mention, I
am asking women like Linda Ikeji, Kemi Adetiba, Funke Akindele, Tolu
Oniru-Demuren and other influencers to continue their good work, only
more in this direction.
In the words of Wangari Maathai, ‘African
women, in general, need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way
they are—to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from
fear and from silence.’