In recent times, feminist hate has been at an all-time high on Nigerian Twitter. The deliberate antagonism of feminists is not new but it has certainly intensified. Feminists are called angry, wicked, man-hating women. All those things are as valid as the feminists who fit those descriptions. The expectation that women should aspire to likeability by men through docility and conformity does not align with the feminist struggle and so, women should be able to air their grievances against the patriarchy without the ensuing bullying and harassment.
People do not gain freedom by appealing to the emotions and sensibilities of their oppressors. Your oppressor will never equip you with the means to liberate yourself from a system that benefits them, even if it is detrimental to others. Most times, freedom has to be seized. People act like anger is not a valid emotional response, ignoring what inspired the anger. For women, anger is a valid response to misogyny and the patriarchy. It is a rational response to the oppression and violence women face all over the world.
It is hard not to be angry if you are conscious of what women face simply because they are women. Heaped on top of this are the incendiary comments from people who invalidate your experiences and anger. It is a silencing tactic when people ignore your super-important and impactful message to focus on trivialities like whether you were pleasant and patronising enough in its delivery. It is even more annoying when it involves oppression that is personal to you or if you understand the impact of that oppressive system on the lives of actual women. Worse still, discussing with a person who can never experience or properly understand it and yet, claims to know your reality better than you. It is bigger than online discourse; for women, these topics have a real, palpable bearing on our lives.
In most instances of oppression, injustice and inequality through history, anger spurred movements that inspired change. The recent BLM protests and the END SARS protests were triggered by traumatising events that rightfully stirred up the indignation in people at the oppression they face and turned it into an iconic movement. The Chilean women’s protest and the revolutionary anthem “the rapist is you!”, the protests by Nigerian women in pre-colonial Nigeria in opposition to the imposition of price limits and taxes for market women and many others were impactful and shaped history. Anger can be a fantastic motivator.
It is gaslighting to tell women that they can not get angry despite their experiences. In the face of discriminatory laws, sexual violence like rape and other forms of sexual assault, everyday misogyny, sexist cultural practices and many more, there is an abundance of reasons to be angry.