On #OrangeTheWorld, Meaningful Action, and The Necessity of Feminism

Feminism: The surprisingly hard to grasp notion that women are human beings, and as such, deserve equal respect, political and economic opportunities to men.

The recent campaign by UN Women to raise awareness about gender violence recently gave a rise to the call for people to support victims, but empathy is really not the problem in my opinion. From childhood, girls are socialized to believe their ultimate purpose is to be a wife; bear a man’s children – like it’s literally phrased “bear his children” – and keep the home. It doesn’t matter that a lot of girls and young women are now afforded the opportunity of formal education, and it doesn’t matter that many of these women and girls are high-flyers. Why? Because in the end, our worths are still tied to the standing of whatever sad soul we’re able to ‘trap’ into the deeply patriarchal institution that is marriage and how much torture we can endure in this institution. As a Feminist, a lot of things get me upset; but I wasn’t always a Feminist. There was a time I didn’t think patriarchy was a problem; then I understood that gender equality and patriarchy cannot co-exist.

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women are assaulted by family members, partners, and spouses. This is a statistic based on the cases reported; the ones that actually get to be reported. There are still places where women are not allowed to work; are killed for getting raped because of ‘family honor’. Women are killed not just physically, but mentally, spiritually and emotionally because we are held to some unrealistic standards we are shamed into upholding, and well the men? Apart from being taught to not show emotion, they’re allowed to do everything, but ‘behave like women’. Cristiano Ronaldo just recently admitted to rape, but yet football fans are calling for evidence; which evidence again? The man just pleaded guilty. The UN Women #OrangeTheWorld campaign has ended; so many people on social media adopted orange profile pictures through the period of this campaign and yet it’s almost like going orange was still just a trend – like having an orange Twitter avatar was a cool kid thing – and that hurts.

Every day, I’m walking down the road hoping against hope to not be noticed or catcalled or touched or anything. Every day I’m told to not be too opinionated because I’m a woman. Every day, I’m given a sermon on why I must endure pain to make sure my marriage is happy. Every day, I have to cut off another “dear” friend for gaslighting. It’s not just about morals or empathy; it’s about getting the world to understand that when I demand equal respect as a man, it does not equate to wanting to be a man. I want to be respected because I’ve worked hard to grow as I have, I do not want to be catcalled, I do not want to be talked over because ‘men are talking’, I want my to not be constantly sexualised, and I want to not be held accountable for the lack of self-control of the other half of the population with respect to my body. You would believe and protect the reputation of a man that you have never met, but for some unfathomable reason; my scars and tears and endless cries for help are not enough evidence for you.

It’s not enough to join the hashtag if you are not doing anything at all.

Eseosa Belo-Osagie

Lover, not Fighter.

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