Feminism/Womanism/The Whole Nine

I’m struck by Daliya’s comment on The Third Wave.

Daliya, I’m interested in this especially:

Although I find myself at times reluctant, if only for a moment, to call myself just a “feminist,” Thus, I use the terms womanist or black feminist.
This is the case because I always feel somehow left out and out of place in this “movement.” The term feminist conjures up the image of a white middle class woman, and this is speaking out of experience. There’s this barrier between feminist women of color and white feminists. In a sense, it feels like white feminists are the drivers of the movement and women of color are merely subjects, students, projects…etc, but rarely ever equal members, unless they conform to an imaginary set of rules that I haven’t laid my hands on yet.

and…

That being side, I find many women of color who cringe at the word feminist or see that it has no place for them.

and…

I believe we need feminism more than ever, because women are getting too comfortable (“we have enough rights, what are these other women still complaining about?”…etc) but what they don’t realize is, what we have can just as easily be taken away. If we are not in constant awareness. Just because we have relative equal opportunity does not mean that we are getting it.

OK…now that I’ve quoted you to death, Daliya, my question for you (and others) is: if we need feminism more than ever, but women of color may feel left out of this movement (whether we want to call the movement the women’s movement, a feminist movement, a womanist movement, etc.), how can we get women of color – or anyone who’s felt marginalized by the movement, for that matter – involved in it?

I’ll ask it another way: as a young woman of color who defines herself as a black feminist or a womanist, what kinds of things/activities/programs would you/do you/would you want to participate in?

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2 thoughts on “Feminism/Womanism/The Whole Nine

  1. That is a huge question.
    -Attempts to hide from the spotlight-
    I admit when I had initially wrote the response I was all riled up from a different situation and the topic on here served as a rant venue.
    But now that I think of it, I mean after all, I am just a tiny freshman…I might have missed venues on campus (Groups, Websites…etc) for woman of color who jive to feminism.
    If such resources do exist, point me towards them…in case I have missed the signs.
    And as I type this it occurs to me, I don’t know if I can say this clearly…but here I go, It occurs to me that they shouldn’t be separate. There’s this nagging separatism. And I want unity…though real understanding and empathy, not just a gloss over “we are both women, woman power! Yay!” without actual examination.
    For example, especially in the online world I tend to find feminist communities that are made up largely of white women and then there are those feminist communities “for women of color” then there are those for “GLBT” feminists…”Muslim feminist” etc.
    This division bothers me. Because then when I follow discussions, I realize how disconnected everyone else is from the experiences of different women. And suddenly we are somehow pitted against each other because “we don’t see eye to eye” Hell, I have chanced on some blogs by feminist WOC who openly attack white feminists to the point of racial prejudice (but then it’s not tackled because well… “a feminist woman can’t be racially prejudiced)â€?…and…suddenly there’s this subtle hierarchy or disregard for different experiences or just lack of understanding.
    I don’t want a feminist group that supposedly adheres to all diverse women regardless of class, sexual orientation, religion or race…when in reality it doesn’t because those issues in regards to women are rarely discussed, there’s this assumption that it’s all cool, everyone is on the same page. Yes, it’s discussed in terms of the patriarchy (those “peskyâ€? men and how they effect us women), but not discussed often enough in terms of woman vs woman within the movement…for example how a feminist woman might have awry beliefs of a transgender woman. The “othernessâ€? of all diverse women’s (white, black, asian, middle eastern native, GLBT…etc) experiences tends to be a stumbling block instead of it becoming a way to bridge differences and becoming a pillar of strength for all women. It’s really hard to sum up in a short comment.
    I feel like there should be a group or a forum where we can openly tackle feminism through that lance.
    Tell me I made sense….
    And if I made sense, if you could point me in the right direction, it’d be super awesome.

  2. To say more…
    I like this feminist space.
    I think it can be used to expand our knowledge on different women’s experiences without ‘othering.’ Be able to truly examine different women’s cultures and understand them without just nitpicking issues without understanding their histories. Be able to actively work towards change without just sitting back and discussing why lipstick strengthens the patriarchy or whatever is a hot issue this days. We should be able to constantly be able to check our privileges (in conjunction with the unpopular act of checking others).
    My experiences as a feminist are different, my feminist believes are of a different make up, so I have a different drive because I do come from a “developing” country. I think as feminists it is imperative to understand where we all come from before jumping bandwagons, and work on understanding others, actually listening and…actively, A-C-T-I-V-E-L-Y work towards unraveling racism, sexism, homophobia, classism etc. It’s all fine and dandy for me to discuss things, but that’s not enough because for me actions are more valuable than words. I think through actions we’d be able to more accurately capture the experiences of other feminists when we come together for different causes, be able to create a higher more informative form of empathy and maybe be able to unravel the process of othering.

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