black feminism Feminism womanism
Why I Don’t F**k with Feminism, Even If It's Intersectional10/30/2015
by Jaimee Swift You know, the f-word has never really appealed to me. And by the f-word, I mean feminism . And whether it is femini...
by Jaimee Swift
You know, the f-word has never really appealed to me. And by the f-word, I mean feminism.
And whether it is feminism, white feminism and/or intersectional feminism, I don’t f**ks with it. Not nere’ one bit.
Many women (especially white women who claim to be intersectional feminists) get quite frustrated when I tell them that I am not a feminist. They question me on why I am not a part of the movement, even laying out well-versed academic and societal reasonings as to why I should be and must be a feminist.
Some points they use in their arguments as to why I need, or rather, why the world needs feminism include:
- Women still earn less money than men with the same education level.
- Women are still under scrutiny about what they are allowed to do with their bodies.
- Violence against women is a global epidemic.
- Cultural and societal norms prohibit women to advance in various avenues of life, and gender discrimination is rampant across countries and creeds.
I’ve heard it all. I understand it. I get it, I really do.
However, when I mention race, racism, Black cis-women, Black trans-women, Black women in the LGBTQ community, or Black women in the Diaspora and how we have been pervasively segregated, discriminated and physically, emotionally and verbally abused inside and outside of the feminist movement, many white feminists and intersectional white feminists seem to fall silent on these issues. However, they will rally behind the notion that women, all women, must come together to “lift every voice and sing,” “kumbuyah, my Lord” and “we shall overcome” for (certain) women’s rights.
But y’all don’t want to talk about how the disturbing video of the Spring Valley High School school resource officer brutally throwing a Black female student is too, racialized state violence and gender-based violence? Or how women of color make less than white men and white women? Or that Black girls are suspended six times more than white girls? Or that Black women are three times more likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence/intimate partner violence than white women?
While I want equality for all women, all men, and all people of all races, as a Black woman I cannot align myself with a women-centered movement that refuses to be inclusive of racial inequities and gender disparities. I am weary and will no longer advocate for inclusion in a white-female oriented space where I, and countless other Black women, have been constantly rejected. Just like Sojourner Truth stated in her 1851 speech, “Ain’t I A Woman,” I refuse to be a part of an ideology that historically and contemporarily dehumanizes and marginalizes the Black woman yet will culturally appropriate style and successes in order to advance their self-centered agenda.
I will no longer concern myself in trying to teach white feminists the importance of racial and gender intersections because some will continue to disregard the importance of Black women in the feminist movement no matter how much Black women try to educate them. Although intersectional feminism was created to distinguish itself from white feminism as a means to be inclusive of women of color, it still has feminism in its name. I’d rather disassociate myself from feminism altogether to be at peace in a Womanist space that was created for my Blackness and my womanhood than advocate for a white, feminist paradigm that is so pervasive that intersectionality is revered as an afterthought.
Now, more than ever, it is time that Black women define ourselves by our own terms and join spaces that are created for us and by us. Just as Clenora Hudson-Weems, author of Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves, advocates, by defining ourselves on our terms, Black women can exclusively share safe spaces where the cultural, mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual statuses of Black womanhood are revered, nurtured and uplifted.
While some white feminists/intersectional feminists will cry separatism or segregation after reading this article, please indulge and educate yourself in the hypocrisy and contradictions of the feminist movement in regards to Black women. Please and thank you.
Here, within this Womanist space, I can uplift Black women and other women of other cultures because in this paradigm, I am recognized. I am recognized as a stakeholder in my Blackness and my womanhood. I, as a Black woman, can thrive in a space where my vitality is not overlooked, disregarded and discarded.
With my own self-validation, I do not need feminism - intersectional or not -- to define my stake or my worth or the worth of other women in the fight for racial equality and gender equity.
Simply put, I don’t f**ks with feminism. And I don’t have to be one to advocate for women and girls’ rights and empowerment.
***Note: I blasted IDFWU while writing this piece. ***
Jaimee A. Swift is a graduate of Howard University and Temple University with a Master of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, respectively. A writer and truth-seeker at heart, Swift is contributing writer at For Harriet. You can follow her on Twitter @jaimeeswift.