There’s no easy way to say this so I will just have to get right to it. I’ve been living a lie and it’s time I came clean. For the past few years, while I have been touting the feminist rhetoric, empowering young girls in my community, and proudly proclaiming myself as a feminist (even going so far as to write a whole blog entry about it), I’ve been hiding a massive secret. I haven’t burned any bras. I don’t hate men. I believe that men and women have special and important roles in society. And worst of all, I don’t promote promiscuity. You see, according to a large population of those on and off social media platforms like twitter, feminist women are man hating whores who “don’t need no man”. They are angry, unattractive, emasculating, and belligerent. They are why chivalry is dead and why many men (black men in particular), left the home.
If that sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, here’s why: because it is. But for an incredibly long time, I often found myself at odds with several sides of the feminism debate and within myself. One side was comprised of my religious associates and family members who cited biblical scripture to support their narrow-minded and often misogynistic views on women. I couldn’t and still can’t utter the word “feminist” without being barraged with all sorts of language around Adam and Eve, the “proper order of things,” and did I mention Eve?
Loud and prominent voices in the feminist community also made me feel that my type of traditional feminism was wrong or not progressive enough. For instance, while I do believe that gender roles are largely comprised of social conditioning, I also believe that there is a biological basis for behaviors in a majority of men and women that is shaped by our environments. So yes, I would prefer to date and marry a man who has physical strength, for instance. I would also like to be professionally successful but would limit my career progression for the sake of raising my children in a home where both parents are present, engaged, and loving.
I am not traditional enough or feminist enough for either side and I am certainly not black enough for those in the black community who say that feminism is responsible for the destruction of the black family. The idea is that white supremacists used black women as pawns to convince them that they did not need their black husbands/partners, thereby eroding the nuclear family and leaving children to be raised in fractured homes and disenfranchised neighborhoods. Largely based on assumptions and outright lies, those that spread this nonsense also say the absence of the black father is a leading cause of homosexuality and promiscuity in the black community. I won’t even dive into how dangerous this ideology is at this time.
What I will say is this: I am comforted by the fact that my feminism is just that- MINE. Yes, it is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. But it’s more robust than that. It says that my partner should not have to be made to feel like “less of a man” if he earns less than me, cries when he’s overcome with emotion, or has to ask for directions if he’s lost. Feminism says that I can come home from a late night at work (in which I am paid fairly and not less than my male counterpart) and dinner will be waiting for me because my husband got home 2 hours earlier. Feminism says if a woman is sexually assaulted, her attire at the time or personal sexual history shouldn’t be brought into question. Feminism says that Odell Beckham Jr. should be able to dance without having his sexuality come into question. Feminism says that black girls and women are also beaten and killed by law enforcement officers and their names should be uttered and shouted.
I am a woman. I am black. I am a feminist. And I will never apologize for what feminism means to me.