The counterfeit feminist: the enemy within
Makokha Selina Kwamini (Kenya) is a communication specialist with an interest in advocacy and peace building, and is a volunteer at Community Voices of Peace and Plurality.
Does it irk you that, as women we make 10 strides forward, then 15 backwards? We’ve improved legislation, such as the Gender Bill for better gender balance in Kenyan institutions. There are more organisations advocating for us today. Despite progress, somehow, we still backslide. The examples are many: the new Somali Penetration Act that normalises violences against girls and women; acid attacks on women in India; an increase in femicide cases worldwide. And I dare not start with Josina Machel’s case - campaigner for women’s rights, the daughter of two former presidents, with a powerful mother, still faced domestic abuse is hard to comprehend. This is the known enemy - the patriarchal system. Today I shift focus to a subtle, dangerous one within; the “Trojan Horse” sabotaging our efforts, leaving us exposed to the external dangers and possibly a reason as to why our voices are not taken seriously. I call this internal enemy, the counterfeit feminist and it shows up in two ways: 1. The Opportunists: devoid of women’s issues at heart, these see increased foreign aid and opening government appointments as an opportunity to milk. They have gathered that a rant about women’s challenges earns them a golden ticket. They use our plight as a stepping stone, but soon forget. I echo Martha Karua, former Kenyan presidential aspirant, who asked current women legislatures if they were “flower-girls”, or true advocates of worthy causes. 2. The Toxic Feminists: just as there is toxic masculinity, there is toxic feminism. These are doing more harm than service. They have weaponized gender: asking for leniency for the women who intentionally infect men with HIV, but call for action against the man who does the same. We can’t flash the gender card only when suitable. Men and women are not at war. If anything, we have the same enemy: the patriarchal system. Yes, it has hurt women and girls more, but it has not spared the boy. We can do better. Will we let the wheat and chaff grow together? Or we’ll do some weeding in our own backyard?