Mamie: Your (Black) Feminism Crash Course…

By Mamie Mooneyunnamed-1

As the saying goes,”You’re only as good (or as relevant) as your loudest idiot.” Unfortunately, feminism has had the pleasure of lining the mouths of quite a few idiots–so it’s likely that you’ve picked up some misinformation along the way. It’s ok, I won’t hold it against you. I am a feminist, a black feminist to be exact. And very proud to declare this fact to the world. What? You don’t know what Black Feminism is? Well, now, you’ve come to the right place.

Here Is Your (Black) Feminism Crash Course

Feminism (traditional) is an ideology that seeks to advocate for and attain equal opportunities, access and agency for women via education, health, law, culture, politics, etc. Black feminism has the same definition except the issues are tailored to black women as our concerns as black women will be different from the concerns of white women.

In short, feminism is about being able to have equal access to the choices and opportunities in life that keep us safe, healthy, and that contribute to a better quality of life.

Historically, however, white female access to equality has never included black women; it often excludes women of color, women with disabilities, women who prefer women, etc. Traditional feminism was created for white women by white women, to benefit white women, and eventually things like driving, voting, owning property – even not being considered property – trickled on down the line to other types of women, like your black ass and mine. It has always been assumed that the benefactor of ANY equal opportunity or choice gained was/is white. Hell, one of the first things a white woman could own was none other than a slave. So, while feminism won them the right to own property, that property was you and you didn’t even own the clothes on your back.

Black feminism is different in that the luxuries that afford white women the luxury of being upset that they can’t shave their legs without being called a lesbian, taking part in the “slut walk” (yes, that’s a real thing) isn’t really a luxury black women have. We can’t afford to invest our fight for empowerment on hairy legs and armpits and re-branding the term “slut” when we have bigger fish to fry. We are branded promiscuous and “over-sexed” despite the clothes we wear, 60% of young black girls will be sexually assaulted by age 18, and black women experience domestic violence at a rate 35% more than white women. Also, 72% of black women have children out of wedlock and most of those same women are low-income. Black women and girls are also more likely to experience sexual street harassment and to have that harassment escalate to violence.

Now, I get it. I’ve certainly seen the memes about feminism making black women manly, about single mothers “that don’t need no man,” and the movement making men effeminate, etc., etc. But these are NOT because of feminism. They are due to people applying the issues of traditional feminism to people who aren’t the main beneficiaries of traditional feminism. They are due to lack of black feminism and lack of the intersectionality that would lend its attentions to the plight of black women and our struggle for quality of life in all areas. We are often forgotten. And we take it out on the one ideal that can save us… Feminism.. Black Feminism. (Did anyone else get the Bond joke?)

Feminism did not destroy the black family nor make single black mothers proud and/or content in single motherhood. Feminism does not make men effeminate or woman masculine. Feminism does not make women think they don’t need men, nor does it make women hate men. Feminism is about choices. Choosing what is right for yourself as a woman. Not being forced to do things or accept behaviors that you do not like because of your womanhood; but also not being told by ANYONE what is or isn’t “being” a woman. Feminism is about being able to define your own womanhood, because different things make different women feel womanly.

I consider BB&W a black woman empowerment blog. It talks about issues most important to black women, especially where our relationships are concerned. Most of all, it gives Black women a voice. That is black feminism. Somewhere along the way, while everyone was busy liberating themselves and attaining their rights based on class and sex(ism), Black women were left behind; because race was never in the cards for those issues. And where race cannot be discussed, racism often shows up. There are issues that affect us that you don’t hear about that are very much relevant black feminism issues.

Some of these issues include:

Racialized medicine/Medical transparency. (Some medications work differently or don’t work at all on black women, however, we continually get prescribed these medications in hopes of being protected or treated without being told that they are ineffective.)

The amount of violence and sexual abuse perpetrated on black women.

Low self-esteem in black girls and women.

Body shaming of black girls and women.

Underdiagnosis of learning disabilities and mental health issues.

I implore you to read more about black feminism and explore the ways in which you can be a black feminist, support black feminism and empower other black women. What were your initial thoughts on feminism and do you think those thoughts were based on false info? Why or why not? Other thoughts? SOUND OFF in the comments!

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