There is a theme and perhaps a lesson in today's selection of posts from the femisphere. For some reason, this concept depicted above has always made sense to me when it comes to child-rearing. It has been especially driven home this week in regards to feminism and racism and the concept of true social justice versus the constant 'equality for all' rhetoric. So, go grab your afternoon latte and have a read.
By now you've probably seen the video of Emma Watson's compelling UN speech launching the new #HeforShe campaign. It's pretty good. A young woman, using her voice, her fame, and her privilege, to bring light to the oppression of women all over the world, to bring feminism into more of the mainstream conversation. This is all good. There was something missing though... I did share the video on my social media sites and applaud Ms. Watson's efforts, but it wasn't until I read this article from Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous that I was finally able to put my finger on what that missing piece was. Emma invites men of the world to "to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice…", and Mia points out why this is a flawed way of looking at the issues of equality.
The underlying message here is that women deserve equity and equality because of our relationships to men. Continuing to re-enforce the idea that men should respect women and fight for women’s equality because mother/sister/daughter/whatever perpetuates the idea that women don’t already deserve those things based solely on our status as human beings. It encourages men to think of women always and only in relation to themselves, as if our pseudo-humanity is only an after-thought of men’s real humanity. The truth is that women are whole, complete people, regardless of our status in the lives of men. This is what men should hear, over and over again. This is what everyone should hear, every day.
As a white, cis-gendered, middle-class feminist woman, I have quite a few innate privileges in my world. And I am not going to lie, when I get told that I am doing feminism wrong, when I hear that I am just another white feminist spouting off from her position of privilege, I sometimes get defensive. My instinct is to scream my ally-ship to the four corners of the world, and say the dreaded words, #notallwhitefeminists!
But I don't.
Because of people like Brittney Cooper and her ability to take a complex topic like the future of feminism, break it down, and make me almost spit out my morning tea while reading her words. Words that somewhat mirror what I have said before about changing the game/playing field, but in a much more succinct and eloquent way. There is a reason her Twitter handle is @ProfessorCrunk, this woman is a capital E educator and I am the white girl geek sitting in the front row, mouth shut, ears wide open!
White women’s feminisms still center around equality [...] Black women’s feminisms demand justice. There is a difference. One kind of feminism focuses on the policies that will help women integrate fully into the existing American system. The other recognizes the fundamental flaws in the system and seeks its complete and total transformation.
Ever feel like you have the same conversation with people, over and over and over again? OK, I have a 5 and a 7-year old, so this happens daily in my life, and it is less of a conversation, and more of me reminding them of the basics like socks and teeth brushing and please don't put [insert disgusting thing here] in your mouth or on your sister/brother. In all seriousness though, how would you feel if every day you had to be the one to explain to people the basics of human decency? Anne Thériault of The Belle Jar and Lily Tsui of Scantilly Clad, two Canadian feminists (yes, Toronto Star, they do exist!), have come together to bring you a compelling post looking at the parallels between the oftentimes explanatory conversations about feminism and racism.
That is some pretty heavy material for today, so I will leave you with your thoughts. Or you can share them with me in the comments too.
Have a great weekend!