Daughters Of Chimamanda: Twitter Feminists’ Revolution
To anyone privy to Nigeria’s social media space, ‘Feminism’ is a common buzzword often as divisive as politics and sports. On Twitter, threads have covered domestic violence and marriage, consent and rape, career tips for women and how to negotiate better workplace compensation.
As with politics and sports, there have been opposing sides to many feminist views. Many perceive the promotion of feminism as an affront to Nigerian cultures and traditions. But is campaign repressive practices an affront on any culture?
Our Twitter feminists are advocating for women to get treated equally as men in all spheres of life. The struggles of women differ around the world and so it’s only normal that the feminist movement would have different motives.
Women once weren’t allowed to vote, go to school, own property or travel without the consent of a man. In some parts of Nigeria, we have moved past these issues, while in other parts they are still controversial. But Nigerian women still face marginalisation in divorce cases and trivialisation of crime against women (such as rape and domestic violence).
Just believing in these things and looking to speak and act against them makes one a feminist. And the same way our women benefit from the words and actions of our women of years past by enjoying rights to education, voting, working full-time jobs and commanding equal pay relative to their male counterparts, is the same way women of today are expected to keep speaking and acting so the women of tomorrow won’t have to remain marginalised.
Hence the popular mantra coined by Nigerian award-winning writer and feminist Chimamanda Adichie, “We should all be feminists”.
Although Adichie is not on Twitter herself, her speeches, interviews and quotes have become online scripture for the movement and those who echo her views have been called “Daughters of Chimamanda,” originally intended as a slur but now worn unashamedly as a title of feminist pride by many.
While we often separate social media from reality, the impact of this online movement is delivering tangible results.
In January 2017, Oghenekaro Omu, founder of Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls tweeted, “Going to put together funds to buy girls in public secondary schools and IDP camps sanitary pads for next month. Hit me up if you want to help.”
In 48 hours, she generated over N700,000 in donations and became the first of many sanitary drives aimed at providing free sanitary products to girls from low-income families and IDP camps across Nigeria.
More radical tweets have seen victims of rape being given platforms to make allegations and confront their abusers. This may not provide criminal justice, but it often provides closure and awareness regarding the threats of sexual violence.
Social media has given activists a tool to reach a greater audience and scale their impact and, though progress may seem slow, we would eventually end up better for it.
Feminism is not a bible of do’s and don’ts, dogma and rituals. It is a mindset and a lifestyle. Like everything else under the sun, it has been bastardized and misappropriated. But in its purest form, it simply demands that women be given the same rights, rewards and free will to strive to attain whatever type of life they choose without discrimination. It is nothing complicated.