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A Black Man Replies To YOUR Reaction To “Feminism Tricked Me” Article

June 1, 2010

About a month ago, SV contributor Stephanie Jones penned an article titled “Feminism Tricked Me.”

Here’s a sliver of what she had to say:

“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.”

Stephanie’s stance brought about a strong reaction to readers here on the site and on facebook:

Reader 1

“Dislike. She doesnt know what Feminism is. I was there with white and black women who fought each other’s battles.”

Reader 2

“I’ll pass on the submissive femininity part – this is the part that allows men to continue the unhealthy male fantasy of being invulnerable and to continue abusive, macho postures”

Reader 3

“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.”

In a first here on the SV, we have a response to the readers who, er, responded to the article. Since the subject is as much about race as it is about gender, it seems only fitting this comes from a black man; D.J. Here’s his article:

Your opinion is created against the comparative construction of a mythical standard of white rightness.  Anytime a man attempts to define a woman’s identity, he is taking an aggressive stance against her ability to do this for herself.  She’s unintelligent, weak, vulnerable and lost when she doesn’t live in a way that meets male approval.

True feminism isn’t ‘limiting’ – wrong ‘l’ word. It’s liberating. It doesn’t speak to what a woman can’t or shouldn’t do, it speaks to everything they can do. Everything they are doing right now! It speaks to their ability to define themselves in all situations. A woman has the right to decide that she is strong, independent, assertive, confident and active (traits generally used to characterize men) as well as nurturing, domestic, caring and submissive.

One thing we men need to understand is that if we truly support feminism in all that it is, we must do exactly that…support women. Take a passenger seat and stop trying to oppress them by deciding their activity through defining their reality. I consider that dehumanizing and demoralizing, the mortar that holds the building blocks of sexism and violence against women in a sturdy position.  Systems  that privilege men’s ability to decide, define and control women’s bodies, possibilities and minds above that of women themselves have no place in true feminism.

I’m sure you’re aware of the 3/5th compromise where African slaves were considered 3/5th of a human being for voting purposes. Their reality was defined for them, but they spoke up, struggled and revolted saying “I’m not chattel! I’m much more than that. I’m a capable human being with the right to define myself and control the dictates of my own destiny. And I’m also a hard worker!”

Your perspective is most certainly appreciated. In fact, you’ve given the author something very valuable – confirmation that in choosing her husband she has chosen someone like herself – extraordinary! He must truly be a blessed man!

Now for a little history lesson:

The abolition movement was very closely tied to the women’s movement – that is until the era of reconstruction and the implementation of Jim Crow.  The women’s suffrage movement began as early as the 1830’s and in the 1840’s was in full swing with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglas, Lucretia Mott and others working side by side.  In 1859 Frederick Douglas escaped to Canada – with countless other escaped slaves.  The first Women’s Convention took place in 1848 with the presence of Frederick Douglas, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony working together towards rights for both freed Blacks and women.

Enter the reconstruction era and in 1864 we see a split of the issues.  In fact,  there was a split along color lines in the women’s movement in the early 1860’s and the creation of both the National Women’s Suffrage Association and the American Women’s Suffrage Association.   Because the human rights of freed people of color was too volatile an issue, the issues became split and no longer was it a ‘human’ rights issue, it was gender and ethnically based.

So, was Stephanie Jones wrong in her assertion that feminism causes a split along color lines?  Historically, this is true.  Perhaps it’s just the fact that we want to believe we’ve moved beyond the ideology that men define women in general and that white men continue to define the reality for all people – or at least attempt to.  The fight continues for those of us who refuse to conform, who refuse to be defined by others rather than ourselves, for Black and Latino men and women who won’t become quiet and continue to resist oppression, for all women who embrace ALL of their femininity and CHOOSE a life of submission while still continuing the struggle for equality.   A woman who defines HERSELF as intelligent, independent, confident, assertive, opinionated AND submissive is a powerful woman.   A woman who respects EVERYONE’S right to define themselves is not intimidated by your judgment of her choices – and that’s a powerful position which can be intimidating for those who can’t or won’t recognize their continued attempts to define others or their conformity to the definitions created by others.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2010 10:06 am

    ummm C’mon somebody! That was a great response. Love it!

  2. jade j. permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:38 am

    i enjoyed both peices as well as the comments.
    i whole heartedly agree with both stephinie jones and D.J.
    WE as a PEOPLE need a REVELUTION!!

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