Contrary to popular belief, feminists don’t operate as a monolith. The majority of us don't live to emasculate or browbeat men as most believe. Nor are we opposed to feminine sensibilities, sex, marriage, family, or whatever we supposedly abhor in the linear and limited thinking and misunderstanding.
Some folks seem to have this idea that most feminists are asexual, misandrist radicals, who hate everything and everybody, perhaps because some of you are averse to evolving. Believing the "feminazis are evil man-hating feminazis" narrative makes it easy for some of you to continue espousing patriarchal propaganda and think you shouldn't be taken to task for how you (mis)treat women and young girls, so you can have a reason to keep your foot firmly rooted on my neck while you spew venom and rationalize arguments for "legitimate rape", find reasons to uphold gender inequality, and maintain a stronghold on my vagina. And some of you women, while you're well within your right not to identify as a feminist or womanist, seem to think upholding misogyny will score you brownie points with men or get you dates, yet will gladly benefit from the spoils that gender equality advocates have spoken up and taken heat for. Good luck with pandering though.
Full disclosure-- I shave my delicates and armpits (because I want to) and I enjoy makeup, but I also value my reproductive rights and endorse gender equality, denounce the patriarchy, and believe in holding people accountable for using oppressive language towards and tactics against marginalized groups. I believe in exercising my right to be able to sit at the table with impunity and voice my opinion without being relegated to the fringes. Womanism/feminism helps keep me visible in spaces that would much rather erase me, and enables me to challenge conventional ideas of what's expected of women... especially Black women.
I should not have to walk around breathing a sigh of relief because I haven’t been sexually assaulted yet. I detest street harassment and have the right to say so without being crucified or verbally abused. I think little Black girls are just as worthy of protection as little Black boys and little white girls, and that their self-esteem should be cultivated without criticism.
The lives of Black women are just as valuable as anyone else’s, and I deprogrammed myself from engaging in respectability politics ages ago because it's counter-productive; if you’re a grown woman who wants to wind her waist to pulsating rhythms, that’s your prerogative. I’m not interested in policing other women’s bodies or determining: who’s more of a respectable 'lady', feminist, or womanist than I am; or who does and doesn't have the right to claim to be.
I am not here for rape culture, online threats of violence or harassment from virtually cloaked men because I, or some other woman writer, wrote something you didn't agree with. I also reserve the right to buck against intimidation in my offline life because you're upset that I said, “No” or “not interested”.
I don't care if you get mealy-mouthed over critiques about you stripping women of our identities by defiantly calling us ‘females’ in a derisive way that drips with the essence of eau de bitch, with discordant notes of cunt. If referring to a woman as... a woman... causes you that much distress, then that's a problem that may require the intervention of a therapist.
My humanity is not up for debate. If hearing a dissenting opinion from a woman makes you hot around the collar, then clearly you’re too remedial to engage in any kind of adult or social discourse and you might be a sociopath. My humanity is not up for debate. My humanity is not up for debate. My humanity is not up for debate.
I'm open to discussion and have no qualms about anybody disagreeing with me, provided we come away with some semblance of respect for each other’s views sans ad hominem attacks. But my humanity is not up for debate, and I've no interest in having anybody dissuade me from my beliefs.
Practice the social mores and ideals that work for you without infringing on my right to exist as a cissexual Black woman, who doesn't want to be marginalized or resented for being so. If words like womanism and feminism make you bristle due to antiquated ideas you harbor about what it means for a woman or man to identify as such, and you can't understand the need Black women have for feminism beyond some skewed view, I’m not interested in engaging with you.
If you’re a woman or man who identifies as a feminist, but words like womanism and intersectionality make your sphincter clinch and your brand of feminism or ‘empowerment’ is one that polices or criticizes Black female bodies, a woman's right to marriage and motherhood, single-motherhood, a woman's decision not to be a mother or a wife, or female sexuality… I’m not here for you either and you most certainly aren't my ally.
If us being allies or cool with one another is contingent on my silence about my lived experiences as a Black woman, or you thinking you get to talk over me all dictatorial-like, then nope… we can’t associate. But please be clear, I won't recoil just to placate egos because some of you are too self-serving to defend Black womanhood, and recognize that Black women are also worthy of protection.