Not All Feminists Are Created Equal

Originally posted at Black 'n' Bougie

By definition above, I've always considered myself a feminist. I'm about Girl Power and sisters getting ahead, women helping themselves, equality in financial and social strata. In my mind wanting and advocating an equal playing field where gender is not a detriment equates to feminism.

I've been told, vehemently that I am wrong. Apparently, I'm not a "true" feminist because I still have some traditional beliefs and behaviors based in patriarchy. I was raised by both a mother and a father and yes, I believed and was okay with the fact that my father was the head of household. I do not believe that his role as primary bread-winner or disciplinarian at all diminished my mother's role as authoritarian care-giver and organizer. I saw their relationship with its complimentary roles and responsibilities as symbiotic. One would not have been as effective without the other.

The bra-burning march-in-the street feminists of the seventies were more visible but to me just as effective as the stay-at-home feminists who started rebelling against the neat and narrow boxes men with oppressive old-school leanings tried to keep them in. Does an act of rebellion have to be overt and televised to be valid?

I was informed that because there are times when I "defer to men socially and sexually" and I apparently do not "elevate matriarchy and fem-power" above all else that I "wound the cause of feminism" and "deter women from reaching their maximum enrichment levels" - yeah, let that soak in. (What is a maximum enrichment level? Anyone, anyone?) I was told that "like Beyoncé", I pander to "male-driven sexual mores" thus perpetuating the continued subjugation of women worldwide. [Where have I done that exactly?]

Boiled down I took this to mean that because I don't hate men; I've been known to date one or two in my time and don't feel it necessary to take the wheel and steer in most of my relationships that I'm holding the sisterhood back.

Imma go 'head and call bullshiggity on that. In fact, I'd like to call out all so-called feminist groups that have become so divisive and exclusionary that they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Calling out Beyoncé for referring to herself as Mrs. Carter and being sexy does not help the feminist movement. In fact, calling out women who are powerful and exemplary in areas that could stand some emulation seems a backwards way to further the cause. Not to put myself in the same category as Bey but because I won't engage in male-bashing (unless it's truly warranted) should not negate the things that I do to empower and enlighten ladies in however small a way.

Code Pink sending that woman to holler at the first lady came across as an attention-grab, not cutting edge media savvy strategy spreading positive light on their message. The worst thing I heard all day was that in order to reduce the backlash, maybe next time they should pay a black woman to heckle Mrs. Obama. Don't you effin' dare. One of the problems I have with a lot of the feminist groups is that they rarely take into account the matrixed issues facing women of color. If we just look at this from a pay equity standpoint - review the 2012 study from the National Women's Law Center:

American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger for many women of color, with African-American women making only 62 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. These gaps translate into a loss of $19,575 for African-American women and $23,873 for Hispanic women every year.

I don't know about you but those numbers make me wince. Do we really have time to battle amongst ourselves about who is more "down for the cause" when we're all losing? I invite the feminists who have taken time out over the course of the last few years to tell me all that I'm doing wrong to instead send information on what we can all do to elevate the cause of women across color lines, nationalities and socio-economic levels.

I'm so irritated by the messages bombarding successful single women of color recently. If I'm strong and independent that makes me angry and militant to some but not angry and militant enough for others. If I say I don't need a man, that makes me gay (NTTAWWT - not that there's anything wrong with that). If I don't want or need a man, I'm set to be a lonely spinster with two cats and a knitting circle for companionship. If I say I want a man, that makes me weak. If I enjoy a man, that makes me whipped. If I want a better man, I should just be glad I've got one who still finds me f**kable (yeah, some actually said that). If I get a man and let him drive the relationship I'm a door mat. If I drive the relationship, I'm a ball buster. I think I need people to cease and desist on all the labels and instead do this:

In conclusion... to completely mangle two of my favorite female authors I offer this - Your blues may not be like mine but ain't I feminist?

Is the "neo-feminist" movement too fragmented to be effective? Are the "hard-core" feminists ruining the cause for the rest of us? Does feminism mean something different than we think? Please discuss.


"Feminist" Does Not Apply: On Conferring Labels Without Consent
I'm a Grown Woman: Beyonce and Feminist Discourse
Michelle Obama Feminism: For Black Women With Nothing To Prove

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