International Women’s Day and critical look at the ‘Dems’ - Pepper and Sugar

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Fri, 9 Mar 2018 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Today, we celebrate women and their contribution to the development of this world. I hope and pray that we get to the stage when such a day is marked to celebrate the normal lives of women and not special success in areas that have since ages past become the norm for men. Today, we celebrate successful women because we have always lived with systems that somehow prohibited women from striving higher.

19 November each year is dedicated to celebrating men but people don’t seem to care because it isn’t out of the norm to succeed as a man. In fact, that is your duty.

As we celebrate 35 Female MPs in a Parliament of 275 people, it should point us to the need to make more progress so that a woman becoming a Member of Parliament isn’t deemed a unique success. A young lady should be able to dream from Stage One that she wants to be the future President of Ghana without fear that her gender, regardless of her vision for the nation and qualities makes that dream impossible. But’s okay, a journey of thousand miles begins with a plan and this is why I pay a lot of attention to Gender-Based Activism particularly in Ghana.

THE DEMS: Pepper and Sugar

Pepper Dem Ministry

Currently, in Ghana, one group making waves largely on Social Media which is now the world’s largest community centre is Pepper Dem Ministries, Their mission paraphrased is simply to change the way we think about both Genders and particularly about women because that is the number one hindrance to THE-WOMAN-CAN ‘Gospel’

Yes, they have a great message but sometimes shoot themselves in the foot with the way that great message is conveyed. It is true that they have also suffered from massive factual misrepresentations in typical Ghanaian fashion but the fact remains that the approach gives birth to the controversies that erupt from some of their messages. The Cooking debate is a typical example.

With a group of accomplished and promising young ladies, Pepper Dem has succeeded in putting Feminism on the agenda like never before. Yes, we have seen many gender activists draw our attention to key issues affect women but none got us talking and sustained that discussion like Pepper Dem has so far. It is important to note that the Group was formed in just September 2017.

Sugar Dem

The controversies surrounding the cooking debating, which as stated earlier was the result of factual representation gave birth to a new group by the name Sugar Dem.

Sugar Dem, the flip-side plagiarised version of Pepper Dem, formed in the wake of the Cooking Brouhaha believe that women will be treated right if they do more for men. They admit that women have problems but their approach means that women have those problems simply because they don’t do enough to warrant a consideration from men.

In my estimation, Sugar Dem is bereft of common sense and an affront to the call for respect for women. That is like blaming the oppressed for her woes and asking her to do more for the oppressor. Asking the one suffering to do more for the one enjoying means that I cannot align with such a group.

Woman empowerment is not just about changing the perception of 'men' about women, it is also about changing the perception of women about themselves and that can never happen by telling women to do more and it will be well.

My Take

In view of my verdict on both groups, this article will largely focus on Pepper Dem because if we have to correct wrongs, we have to correct the wrong of the one on the right path.

Right and Respect for women or a Fair treatment of both genders should not be at the discretion of men, every man should be brought to the knowledge that Fair Treatment is for the collective good of the human race.

Right and Respect for Women in the same vein as for men is common sense thing. Even without feminists, the world was moving towards that direction. Feminists in my estimation are just here to expedite the process.

Unfortunately, the movement can become a hindrance and slow down even the natural progress being made if the cause is not strategically pursued. The message is not being built around how great the World will be if women are given their rightful place. A place where ramps are not placed in their way but a place where every woman is seen with the same eye as men are seen.

All the average man sees with today's feminism is: ‘Men, we are coming for your place’

The antagonistic approach worries me because some of us want women being women and by that being the best they can possibly be. Feminists give the impression that it is not enough, a woman must be what a man is to be deemed powerful.

Watch feminist-inspired pictures and videos of powerful women and they are almost always dressed like men.

Instead of a collective effort to achieve this, they are creating friction with men forgetting that the greatest contributors to where women have come are actually men. Look at favourable woman-centred legislations and look at the gender profile of parliaments that passed them.

Kindness is a natural attribute of women but some feminists see it as a weakness that leads to exploitation. To them, being strong, fighting regardless of how wrong you are and doing so as a woman is more worthy of praise. Walking bare-chested is a sign of confidence, wearing manlike suit demonstrates power.

Feminism today is rather becoming more about women being men than women being women without societal limitations.

I hate women football as a tool for advancing equality. Girls who like to play football can go ahead to play but it should in no way be seen as empowering women because, in the real sense, it doesn’t. We watch young ladies destroy their bodies lifting metals and give them a message while they themselves suffer an identity crisis. I have had a one on one discussions with no less than 5 National Football Team players about how the game has affected them personally and their worries are endless.

We can stretch it and say that the alienation they suffer are also part of the backward mentality the advocacy seeks to change but we know that too much physical work that stresses the body increases the male hormones (testosterone) in women. Some things are for men only. Activists should teach women to be proud of the things that are women only because it is not a weakness

An example of proper equality is making Ampe or Ludu a commercially recognised sport and well-paying for the woman. It is about giving credence to the things that are women by design and making the average woman proud to indulge in them.

We have to fight for equality the right way so that we don't destroy potentially great women by making them men.

Today being International Women's Day: we want a world with Confident and independent women free to be whoever they want to be without being judged. Strength has no gender.

Feminists must, however, take note that it is possible to stand for a good cause and be a hindrance to the progress of that very cause due to the wrong approach.

My advice to Feminist is: fight for women: don't fight against men because some of us are with you. The role of men is paramount in realising the dream of Treating Men and women with an equal level of respect and dignity. Women have played massive roles in making men what they are today. If we have realised that the right balance is the way to go, men have to be part of it.

And so to Pepper Dem, 21st Century Feminism isn't about fighting to achieve because we've gone past that stage. People need to change the way they think and everything will be fine.

We are making progress, we are. The demands of the modern world alone that oblige both husband and wife to bring home money to be able to sustain the home, the proof over time that women can be as much productive as men if given the same chance are leading this drive than anything else: any Activism that does not navigate along these lines might be detrimental to the cause.

When you use the example of the Koko Seller or Hairdresser and conclude that we haven't made progress because she has to combine house chores and work: don't forget that her husband is probably a mason who leaves home at 5am, comes back at 8pm tired after carrying bricks all day.

Unfortunately, modern day feminists deem the woman's part of every gender-based ascribed responsibility as tantamount to inequality and the man's privileges.

They defend every bad woman action. The only group of people they attack are men and women who disagree even in part, the very people the advocacy should target. Working to take care of a whole family is a burden that has played a major role in ensuring that the global average life expectancy of men is almost 10 years short of women. The message should be that it is for our collective good.

Successful advocacy is done in the spirit of diplomacy because you don't use guns to free people from mental slavery. You need to caress them and convince them that life is better on the other side. Once they are convinced, they will accept change and adapt to it. Fight them and they will find solace in the abode of their ‘slave masters’ and attack you from the 'comfort' of what should have been a discomfort. Sugardem is a typical example.

In recognition of women this month, Red and Black Label decided to replace the ever-present Jonnie Walker image with a female version by the name Jane Walk. This created image of a woman came with one dressed in the same way as Jonnie Walker in the traditional Scottish male apparel with a cowboys’ hat. Feminists all over the world touted it as revolutionary.

To me, it was regressive. It was regressive because Jane Walker would have resonated better with the message of woman empowerment if she was dressed as a woman. Power is the confidence a person has within that makes him move to do exploits without fears regardless of what she wears. Dressing Jane like Jonnie simply means that Jane cannot be Jane enough.

Unfortunately, this has been the style of most feminists movements over the years. The very people detoxifying people from toxic narratives see nothing wrong with the toxic idea that a woman is powerful when she behaves in a manners known to be manly.

To my Pepper Dem ladies: I know you are not always receptive to advises that disagrees with your philosophy and approach but hey, you too can learn something from those you disagree with, you will never be the epitome of knowledge. Don’t fight critics and treat them as enemies. Don’t respond to every disagreement with sarcasm and subtle digs. Every advocacy gets shaped by the things it cannot change so that real progress can be made in the things it can change. Changing everything is impossible.

Beyond that, fighting for women is now a lucrative venture, once the money comes and with the promise of more, most advocates lose focus and shift to being sensational and controversial because it appeals to funding agencies. Raise issues in a way that forces people to think and rethink. Don’t raise issues that only encourages needless argument debates and name calling because it’d give you fame but with little impact. Feminism can be dangerous if it adopts a political approach.

In view of the above, I nominate myself as an eternal pamper and pepper to Pepper Dem. A good cause only needs truthful supporters who’d criticise with just the goal of making it better. At the moment with Pepper Dem, all I see are mostly people who hate even the good they stand for and those who praise even their wrongs.

On this day, I stand with them to shame those who call them names, attack their personalities because of what they stand for. We must encourage independence of thoughts and critical thinking in the youth of this nation instead of killing potentials with needless attacks

Congratulations ladies for the progress made in just about six months.

In conclusion, I have seen a lot of feminists on Social Media but I haven't come across anyone who wants women better served than I do.

But hey, I don't want my daughter to lift metals or be a footballer.

She can be a professional Ludu or Ampe player: the body's tenderness is part of being a woman and it isn’t a weakness.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh