7.10.2013

Black Feminism: Stop Negotiating For Your Humanity

I've been reading some highly-charged, misogynoir-ist, anti-woman rants about how feminism/womanism is supposedly ruining society and the black community, and is to blame for the contentious relationship between Black men and women. If women would just shut the hell up and stop speaking out against issues like reproductive rights, sexism, sexual harassment and rape, we would all get along swimmingly, because women are meant to be seen and not heard, am I right? 

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. 

11 comments:

  1. Lord, this. So much this.

    Alladis.

    My humanity is not up for debate.

    Every single word of this...is fucking LIFE to me!

    *does the praise dance and passes the collection plate* Amen.

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  2. By the way...did I mention the infamous Tiff J now scribbles for the Club?

    *blinks...then bows to the mistress*

    THIS was one helluva of an introduction.

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  3. Oh my god! Every word is the goddamn Stone cold truth! Sharing this!!!

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  4. Thanks ladies! Glad to be a part of The Black Girls Club. I see I'm in good company.

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  5. You know something that I've learned a long time ago? When black women finally give up on black men, the game is O-V-E-R. We know this, of course, but some of us wish to play a very dangerous game.

    Can we just get back to loving each other?

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    Replies
    1. I'd rather we indulge in *self-care* more, and stop foregoing our humanity and playing mule to everybody. It's *killing* us... literally. The sooner we stop allowing people who don't *see* or *care* about us, to shame us for looking after ourselves so that we can extend ourselves accordingly and productively, the better off we'll be. This has zero to do about hatred for black men and *everything* to do about self-love, advocacy, and cultivating safe spaces for [us] to navigate with impunity. Anything less than that, is non-negotiable.

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  6. @ diaryofanegress
    Black women have ALWAYS loved black men honey. We did not drop the ball on that one. Holla at them to make amends and get the ball rolling. But you'll be waiting a long time. Most aren't even aware there is a problem apart from some of us not paying their due "respect' to the and our duty of being mules and punching bags, hanging around only enables this. We have to get on and love ourselves, children and fellow black women. MY humanity is not up for debate. My skinfolk aren't not necessarily my kinfolk.

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    1. My skinfolk aren't not necessarily my kinfolk.

      Chile, you done said something right here...

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    2. Thank you!! I don't understand why (because I got a similar comment on my blog) people view this through such a one dimensional lens, and insist on framing it as hatred for black men-- some of who, let's be real, don't give a damn about black women, other than to write manifestos about everything that's *wrong* with us-- when it has *zero* to do with *them* and more to do with our well-being. Why is the concept of self-care so off-putting to some black women? Because we're *wedded* to the idea of being *loyal* and looking after everyone else.

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  7. "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."

    This and so much more. I had a big blowout on Twitter once because I decided to rebuke a post that said if women would sit down then they'd get more respect from men. It was posted by a male but I realized a) it was mostly females who were praising it and b) most of the people lashing out at me afterwards were female. It gets a bit disheartening to realize that level of brainwashing exists which is why it's such a breath of fresh air to read your blog.

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