Feminism Tricked Me
by Stephanie Jones
In the United States, we have this myth that we’ve all been taught about individualism. That anyone and everyone can be anything they want to be. The first big struggle to prove this came in the form of feminism. In the 1800’s Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began a struggle that would continue for over a century. Women fighting for equality with the men in power. Well, let’s keep it real – white women. Black women were still ostracized to the kitchen to raise the children of those white women who were out traveling, lecturing and stirring things up. Feminism was the first big trick in the destruction of female relationships – with each other and with the men in our lives. We became enemies of our Black female friends rather than get involved in their struggle. Men became our opponents instead of our allies. Rather than working as a team, the fight became “ours” as individuals. The great American myth of rugged individualism took on a new gender, a new face, the story was re-wrote and a whole new generation of people signed up.
Fast forward to the 1970’s. Women felt that we had obtained some equal rights and we were going to use them for our own good – forget about our sisters in the struggle. We were going to cuss like men, fight like men, fight against one another for the attention of a man, sleep with each other as a form of shutting out men completely from our lives and continue the fight for equality. Rather than being beautifully and wonderfully female, we attempted to re-create ourselves as men with different body parts. It didn’t matter that in a purely scientific way we are built differently than men, we were going to attempt to do all that a man could do.
This is the decade I was raised in. In a fundamentalist family of faith which taught me that God was the head of man and man was the head of woman. A completely opposite message from the one I was receiving from the secular world. On Sundays and in my home I was taught one thing and outside of those arenas, I was exploring a whole new world. A world where I could have sex all I wanted with whoever I wanted and nobody thought a thing of it. A world where I could swear and use poor grammar and that was “cool”. A world where my female friends and I gossiped about each other, back stabbed, used each other and continued the struggle against one another for rights that we thought as individuals we deserved but never considered the impact of our individual actions on females as a whole.
Now I’m grown and see me and my female acquaintances engaged in the same activities. Black women are mad at white women for dating all the “good” Black men. We talk about each other more than we talk to each other. We send each other a note on Facebook saying “Let’s get together” but we never do. We neglect our emotional side because that’s not respected in the work place. We sleep around like tramps because if we don’t sleep with this man right away he’ll find someone who will give him what he wants. We trick ourselves into thinking that sex without relationship is “freedom” and “independence”. We can get the goods without having to do the work that relationship requires. “He ain’t takin’ my money” or “I ain’t cleanin’ his house” or whatever that particular “thing” is that we think subjugates us to a man if we do more than suck his dick on his way through.
Feminism of this nature is as insidious as color blind racism. By not acknowledging our differences, we deny them and we all try to achieve as individuals in a struggle that on our own we can’t win. The problem isn’t being female or Black, the problem is being a non white male.
We don’t need individual battles, we need a struggle that includes women of color, white women, men of color and white men based in the desire to not have a melting pot but to have a kitchen full of different spices, colors, traditions and tastes. We need to dismantle the system rather than becoming complicit in it.
I don’t want to be a man. I want to be a feminine, non-swearing, non- trampish, wife of one man who has no problem saying that I am in submission to that man. A little too strong a word that one? Submission. I want to create a home that is a safe place for all my children, their friends and our entire family to lay their head, get a meal and take a shower before they go back out into a world that doesn’t always welcome them or make them feel safe.
I want to be a real friend to the women in my life, not a comment on Facebook. What we need is a radical feminism that breaks down and dismantles the system of oppression – allowing each of us (males, females, trans people, white people, Black people, heterosexuals, homosexuals and everyone in between) to be who we are in a safe community. We need to fight oppression EVERY time we see it not just when it’s convenient for us. We need to be okay with a woman who dates women and looks like as man – which our community is – as easily as we are comfortable with a woman who says I want to be a good and submissive wife and mother – which our community definitely is not.
Facebook is a farce of friendship. “Social networking” allows us to continue to live a solitary life with little to no real human contact. We need to, I crave to, connect with my women friends over a glass of wine, a cup of tea, a meaningful conversation. I want to reach across the table to that woman and share in whatever her struggle is – without judgment and without saying to the next person who comes along “Girl, did you hear what Sable done did now?” You won’t find me on Facebook right now. But if you’d like to actually have conversation with me, send me an e-mail and we’ll meet somewhere for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine and some real conversation.