“The Sovereignty of women lies only in the hands of women, not men and not society” - Fakhrriyyah Hashim
The main discourse point of this article is lifted from the “Women will lead” chapter in my forthcoming book, After the Revolution, what next?
Nigeria as a society together with its institutions, is patriarchal — dominated and governed by men. It is a brute fact that, men are the ruling class, and women are the subject class. Argue this till the coming of the political Mahdi, but the truth is that we live in an anti-women shithole.
Gender inequalities are the result of the oppression of women by men, and it is mainly men who have benefited from the subordination of women. Women are the oppressed group, all while comprising half of the Nigerian population — they are ridiculously underrepresented in government et public service, grossly impoverished, systemically brutalized and their voices gagged, especially in the grassroots across board.
As a Nigerian man, I am culpable. If you do benefit from a system as oppressive as patriarchy without actively trying to end it, then you are indeed culpable. However, that can change and by the heavens, I do want it to change. It is why I actively espouse Marxist and feminist beliefs and is currently in the process of carrying out a Marxist praxis with my forthcoming book.
Any theory you got, practice it. And when you practice it, you make some mistakes. When you make a mistake, you correct that theory, and then it will be corrected theory…A lot of us read and read and read, but we don’t get any practice. — Fred Hampton
While Marxist feminism establishes that prejudice against women is structural and the solutions to the prejudice against women are socio-economic — like abolishing capitalism, accruing equal value to every form of work and dismantling gender roles — I am not naïve to think that the oppression of women is solely symptomatic of capitalism.
I completely disagree with the progenitor of Marxism and a revolutionary socialism himself, Herr Friedrich Engels where he made the assertion in his book “The State, Private Property and the Family” that the systemic oppression of women commenced with the emergence of class society. As far as historical empiricism is to go by, the oppression of women existed far before feudalism and its brute mutation into capitalism — women were also oppressed in the earlier communalistic “hunter-gatherer societies”.
When reorganizing post-revolution Nigeria into a democratic socialist society, women will lead and eventually dismantle the patriarchy.
Their sovereignty, their freedom, their agency, their bodily rights and their political participation must not depend on men or on society itself but must solely be dictated by themselves — hence, they will lead the reorganization of Nigeria’s society into a democratic socialist society.
In the quote above just at the start of this article, Nigerian feminist, research fellow and anti-SGBV activist, Fakhrriyyah Hashim, embodies just how women’s stand in a society built on justice and equality must be entrenched.
In a democratic socialist society, the communal organization is structured in such a way that while responsibilities are allotted based on skills and competencies of certain members in certain sections of society, representation is of paramount importance and the representation of all the peoples in an equitable manner must be entrenched, most especially in leadership — leadership that doesn’t lead to the creation of a counter-productive bureaucratic class or hierarchical structure that is antithetical to the concept of democratic socialism.
Unlike in macho-patriarchal socialist post-revolution societies like post-Bolshevik revolution Russia and post-revolution China, Yugoslavia et Cuba, women must attain socio-economic equality with men and every other member of society who does not subscribe to the gender binary concept, as well as wield the same political power in social organization and participation — all while society is acephalous. This I strongly believe, is truly democratic.
Faced by increased discrimination in society, violence targeted against them via; rape, sexual harassment in the workplace et public spaces, female genital mutilation, forced marriages and femicides; poor representation in government, lack of reproductive freedom, unequal pay in the labor market and etc., women in pre-revolution Nigeria have it hellish. In fact, according to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, Nigeria is the 9th most dangerous country in the world for women to live in — with a Gender and Equal Opportunity bill in both its legislative wings thrown out.
Attaining gender justice, atoning for the mass, inter-generational and systemic oppression that women in Nigeria have received throughout the country’s formation in history from men and finally ensuring that they lead in the reorganization of society is the crux of my raison d’etre as a Nigerian male Marxist in its entirety.
The complete emancipation of the women is neither a ‘gift of charity’ nor a favor that the ‘stronger’ sex accords to the ‘weaker’ sex but an imperative necessity for a socialism and communism — Vito Kapo
Albanian Feminist and Communist, Vito Kapo captures the exact essence of building a new socialist society that is inherently democratic in the above quote — the liberation of women, by women themselves and not by men or the society itself.
I believe that in order to achieve this, designing and organizing the new society to be structured in an acephalous manner that entrenches political power to the individual in the communalistic construct to be able to lead in all the societal functions carried out, helps to systemically eschew patriarchy, sexism and misogyny. In this context, the woman, man and/or the person not adhering to the heteronormative gender binary is empowered to equitably participate in the socialist society in a very democratic manner without having to be the master or the subdued — post-revolution Nigeria will dismantle the patriarchy and be for everyone, period!
Basil Abia is the author of the forthcoming book After the Revolution, what next? (2021)
NB: I appreciate feedback in the forms of fierce polemics and criticism — please feel free to do so.