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Feminism Tricked Me

April 29, 2010
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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.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca Lane permalink
    April 29, 2010 9:42 am

    You were tricked by a distorted and conservative story about feminism… I’m sad and sorry that happened. Feminism includes both men and women, and is the radical notion that women are people too – and have the same rights that men do. That’s a significant statement in a sexist society.

    I haven’t heard the ‘I don’t want to be a man’ disclaimer since the 70’s! Feminism is no more about wanting to be a man than the anti-racist and undoing institutional racism movements are about wanting to be white.

    Race & class have been poorly understood in the middle class feminist movement… but not all feminist groups & initiatives are white or middle class. In fact, the myth of the feminist movement being a white, middle class movement ignores some of the most powerful legal gains made by women of color, such as the environmental justice work done largely by women of color.
    http://www.ejrc.cau.edu/SummCrowning03.html

    This topic is worthy of a PhD thesis – and no doubt someone has or is doing this… these are my initial thoughts, as a second-wave feminist.

    Thanks for your writings.

  2. April 29, 2010 9:59 am

    well said as usual…

    and im glad you sayin it, cuz when i pose this arguement i’m…well i’m being a..what’s the word?

  3. Stephanie Jones permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:30 am

    Rebecca-
    I appreciate your comment, but I think you missed the majority of my point. That being: modern theories of equality actually work towards separtism rather than connectedness. And the technology we use furthers the disconnection agenda. My point is not to negate the work being done by certain groups, it’s to point out that those groups need to stay connected and not disjointed. My point is that we’ve lost our own humanity. And we act outside ourselves and in ways that don’t make sense trying to get it back.

    Sah ril –
    Most of these words came from my husband. He gives me the freedom to tell the truth – even when most people don’t want to hear it. If he said them, he’d be called a male chauvanist pig. This argument made from a man would garner anger, instead people just feel sorry for me! He’d be labeled an oppressor. So maybe when you make this argument you’re called something similar.

  4. Rhonda permalink
    May 6, 2010 7:13 am

    Thanks for this post.

    I can appreciate any criticism of a theory, concept, or movement. We should look critically at how things effect our lives but I’m amazed at the number of women that blame feminism for the state of their relationships between men and other women. You really don’t seem this in other movements or not at least at the level we see feminism have to take the blame for the state of womanhood, and the especially the state of black womanhood today.

    You state that Feminism is the cause of the separatist nature of women including the behaviors you see your sisterfriends exhibit on Facebook but is that a product of Feminism? is the lack of Social connectiveness a feminist issue or other issue? Is that solely a female issue?

    We all tread a fineline in how we appropriately criticize something we’ve benefitted from.

    I’m all for saying that women need to value other women and I think for the most part, women do. I just think there was a lot of issues mentioned that have nothing to do with or are not directly tied to feminism.

  5. May 30, 2010 7:02 pm

    I think your post is interesting and definitely raises some valid points. I also think that our movement to end oppression needs to be more linked and less separate. Unfortunately, oppression (sexism, homophobia, racism, etc) still exist. I agree with Rebecca that your article takes a pretty intense slam towards feminism. I would add to her critique that I sense some male protectionism as well. As a black feminist I am grateful (and continuously inspired)by the work of Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Barbara Smith and other feminist women of color. I think these women (and current women of color and queer feminists) absolutely included the oppression of men in their analysis while still holding that we live in a world in which sexism still exists.

    I think some of the examples you cite re: women not connecting with one another is a result of issues such as internalized racism and sexism and the impacts they have on how women connect to one another. In your response to Rebecca you wrote that the article was intended to highlight the way in which technology has disconnected women from one another which wasn’t totally clear until the end. And even at that point I wasn’t sure where it connected to the issue of feminism.

    thanks for your article.

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