Sunday, October 03, 2010

What would white feminsists do?

Imagine this scenerio:


A black woman walks into a shop with an object in her hand, she says ‘I have this object here that is shaped in a unique and different way. ‘Can you find me a bowl/container that will fit round it or be enough to ‘encompass’ it in its entirety?

There is this white woman there managing the store and she has a group of assistants, these assistants happen to be black women and they look at the object and after a few minutes their faces take on a semi contemptuous look towards the object.

‘Sorry’ they say, ‘Your object has to fit into one of these ‘standard’ containers we have here or it really isn’t a ‘valid’ ‘worthwhile’ object, in fact you will have to go and file it down and knock off bits of it to get it to fit one of these 'universal' bowls, which is really the ‘accepted’ container that all such objects need to be able to fit into!’

Well, this is exactly what bw are expected to do; to fit their issues, their responses and reactions, the nuances of their situation and their ‘understanding’ of what ails them into accepted feminist frameworks developed from a white female perspective and thought process. If these don’t fit, black women are expected and asked to take them away and make sure they cut off ‘an arm’ or ‘a leg’ so that it fits neatly with ‘white female theories’ and views of the female world and their acceptable analysis of such things.

RE: NWNW
Halima, virtually all of the confusion among bw regarding this issue and many others is due to bw contorting themselves to accommodate the damaged thinking and behavior of bm.

Since the bulk of black males in the West have adopted the thinking and behaviors that are out of sync with the norms of most cultures, societies and groups in the world, black women suicidally adjust their thinking and behavior to follow suit. This is THE pattern of behavior of the masses of bw.

For ex. I cannot imagine more than a handful (if even that many) of bw arguing that it's fine for them to have massive numbers of children OOW by white men or Asian men. LOL! They would NEVER do that. It's only because they're having these children by black males who won't marry them and assume the role of men and responsible fathers, that these women are making this foolish argument. Why? It's because so many AA women and bw of that type have been programmed for centuries to adjust for (emphasis added by halima) and be self-sacrificing for non-reciprocating, hateful bm- Evia


Most black female theorists have also gone on a mission to insure that they too fit their struggles into these 'boxes' created by white female thought processes and priorities. Yes it is fascinating for me to note how even fellow bw are struggling to force their fellow black women's issues into the neat box as prepared by white feminists, a box constructed with their world in mind, a box that fits and was made to fit with how their issues are shaped and how things 'occur for them'.

On the surface it might appear that black women's issues have fitted neatly into white feminists boxes and the 'elevation' of black womanhood is on the way 'thank God', but before long you realize that 'a foot is missing' or a 'hand has not been adequately covered' or the head has had to be twisted into a painful angle to ensure it is contained within the box.

It is worrying to note how fellow black women invalidate the concerns of other black women when 'it does not neatly fit into boxes' prepared by a white feminist thought process and priorities!

I indeed find it worrying to note that the way bw approach the concepts and terms of white female theory (read: feminism) as if it was handed down from mount Sinai (along with the ten commandments); perfect and universal, ready to apply to and fit with issues for every female of every shade, hue and culture and every female issue that ever occurs. I am even more concerned that many black women who puport to be feminist do not realize that we arrived at the current feminist theoretical framework through years of arguing and discussing and dissecting and putting together and again tearing apart and  revaluating and dissenting  (in fact there are only a few core ideas of feminism endorsed across all the strands of feminism and yes there are many strands some locked in perpetual battle with each other) and chopping and changing the structure to make it accomodate all white women were feeling, saying, experincing expressing etc etc.

I am surprise to note that many bw do not know that white women brought their feelings (honoured and valued how they felt about certain things even when these were sneered at by the wider community), to the table, also bringing their experiences, their priorities, concerns, their heart felt emotions, things they raged against, thing they could not fit neatly into 'progressive frames', things they couldnt justify yet felt strongly about etc etc etc and when these had finally been assembled, they now Encased All of these in a framework called feminism.

Many black women who 'pledge' to be feminists, act like feminist theories are set in stone, sacred and cannot be adapted to suit but must be applied as is! Many act like black women are to be held prisoners to the precepts of feminism rather than the precepts being there for the purpose of serving black women's needs be they practical, spiritual, intellectual, existential, and what have you. Essentially to serve the 'essence' and preservation of black womanhood!

Note the conversation that goes on when black women bring the enitrety of their issues forward to try to ensure a robust enough framework to comprehensively fit and address their situation:

BW- ‘I feel this way about this’,
Feminist Gatekeeper -‘Oh well it doesn’t fit well into this pre prepared box here, so it definitely is invalid to include as an important feminist issue.’

BW-'This issue keeps recurring so it is central to our situation'.
Feminsist Gatkeeper- ‘Well this issue actually goes against the ‘already prepared version of events’ laid out as acceptable feminist frame, therefore it has to be discounted.’


BW- 'I feel strongly about this and think my feelings must count'
FGK- 'Well those feelings go against our decisison never to upset A or speak out against C or to bring up B for revaluation or indict D for their inhumanity and since we hold these restrictions central please be off with it'.

And so on and on it goes until bw are forced into a feminist model that ill fits their struggle.

You would have thought that by now black women theorists would realise that you first gather together all black women’s concerns, needs, honor their feelings and cares and hunches, their observations AND THEN build a feminist model around all these, rather than cut of the salient and important parts of the narrative as it stands for black women, in order that it may ‘fit’ into the design that white female theorists (read: white feminists) have decided to be ‘appropriate’.

I can almost here Jesus say, 'The sabbath was made for (wo)man, (wo)man was not made for the sabbath'

BW need to take care because:
A whole bunch of folk are trying to force black women into modes and models that are not 'meaningful' for black women and the black woman's situation, in fact some of these models will lead black women into even greater 'tragedy'.


Feminsism is not about big language and something that exists in 'theorectical space'. Feminsism is about the practical and how women can make it better for themselves in the now (more so for black women who are at the negative end of so many social trends). I mean what is the point if your feminsim is simply theory and all about intellectual debating as black women fall deeper and deeper into the pit. Surely your framework can only be useful if it provides for the immediate survival and rescue of the black female!

If the terrain is different the wheel might need to be re-invented!


White women have been granted the 'social space' to hash out their issues and come up with the approporaite models to work with. I dont see this happening with black women with all and sundry (white men, black men and white women) closing in on what should be internal debates to lecture them on what should be 'the appropraite models' for their struggles (of course models that skirt the exposing of the major culprits in their situation). My question remains, 'Where is that granted 'social space' for bw to go through the process (as white owmen were allowed to), to come up with meanigful concepts, ideas and models for their situation? All I see is folks rushing in to force bw into models that continue to be ill fitting for the black woman's situation.

Indeed I hear folks saying black women should eschew any models that points a finger or lays blame on black men. Pity they didnt remeber to tell that to white women when they declared an all out war to extricate themselves from under the feet of men, not more than 5 decades ago.

White women were allowed to take men to task for their behaviour as a collective towards women with no one rushing in to supress their assertions about men.

Indeed I dont recall the likes of Gloria Steinem arguing for consideration to be shown for 'the good white men' out there. But then again maybe I am wrong and she prefaced her every comment with 'there are good men out there including my brother, uncle and father!' 


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27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Youre so right about that!! White women feminists want to be separated from men and fight their 'own battles' while black women are sick and tired of fighting for herself AND black men, that SHE wants to be on the pedestal white women wanted to jump off of; Yes, white women (even feminists ones) still get protection from their men as a collective [however not individually;theres lots of 'white trash' out there]

Anonymous said...

Interesting.

I would like to hear more though about how black woman's needs are so greatly different than a white woman's. It would seem class trumps everything else. Women from poor backgrounds (black or white) would have more and different needs than those born into upper middle class environments (white or black).

Sometimes BWE bloggers talk as if black women are a different species of woman altogether.

I wonder if this conflict doesn't stem from the Southern roots of African American women. Southern women historically were slow to embrace feminist ideas, and were very much into the old "stand by your man" thing.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

This is a long post, Halima, I’ll post in several sections.

When I think of this conundrum that you are discussing, I think of the responses many feminists made to the NWNW campaign. I found that a prevailing trend amongst the feminists lay in defending black women's autonomy, that black women should be able to do whatever they want and have children whenever they want and under whatever circumstances they want. The role of the rest of society should be to create the support for them to exercise those choices, ie., programmatic and financial.

Where do I see the problem with white feminists' take on this and the support given to them by black feminists?

Yes, as Anon at 2:54 suggested, this is a class issue, in that middle class feminists of whatever race can afford to adopt this position, ie., because they are more likely to be able to afford single parenting. And some of these critics of NWNW have said, for example, that they would be willing to pursue single parenting, or that they already have done so.

But there is something more going on here. THERE ARE race-based differences that make black women’s situations different.
These (white) feminists are not addressing the fact that a fair number of them support a strategy of autonomy that they themselves are not pursuing and which the vast majority of (white) women like them are not pursuing. White community ideologies don’t push the vast majority of childbearing white women to become single mothers because vast majorities of their men are capable of and have an interest in marriage and parenting WITH THEM. White women are not told that they are “strong” and have to keep the race and community going by themselves.

That alone says a lot.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Continued…
In addition, a high proportion of black women pursuing single parenting are not of the privileged type and this is something the black feminists are not recognizing, or if they do recognize it, they are pursuing what is today an impossible dream--to change the economic, social and legal structures and thus get what they want for the women, programming of various types. Forty years of feminist organizing, it seems, have reached its limits. If anything, there has been backsliding.
I really take issue with this newer type of "choice" feminism, because it presumes that whatever choices women want to make are to be supported, as a matter of women's autonomy. Thus, even choices that result in (or stem from) inequality or disempowerment become sacred because these are matters of “choice.” It is a very privileged type of feminism seen among the 40ish and under crowd, the women who came of age during and after all the gains of feminism. Very privileged women with choices who see their basic interests in equality as already existing can afford to play around with “choices”.
But when they want to apply this to women who are not as privileged, there is no corresponding scrutiny of whether there is true equality in women’s choices, and whether these choices are worthy of support--a mad dive into "relativism". They only want to discuss the context of choice insofar as they can make arguments for arguing that we need to support women regardless of their choices: a woman wants to be a single mom, so support her. Don't worry whether it is a reasonable choice--don't judge, don't ask why, don't ask about the consequences of that choice.
So this is one instance where black women's single parenting choice is not being scrutinized for its worth, its context and consequences.
At least older schools of feminist thought like dominance theory and cultural/difference asked about the context and consequences of women's choices. Dominance theory--are women being dominated--should they thus be protected from male domination? Cultural/difference--do women experience differences from men that are worthy of protection?
This is where I see significance in the NWNW message. Black women are different from men, they are worthy of protection. In exercising their sexuality, they are vulnerable to being dominated, ie., they alone experience the true consequences of accidental pregnancies. When they don’t empower themselves in their choices, ie., they don’t choose well the men they have sex with and the circumstances under which they have children, they run the risk of single parenting which can tend to limit their prospects (struggling to raise their children alone) and those of their children (the tragedy of fatherlessness).

PioneerValleyWoman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Halima said...

I really take issue with this newer type of "choice" feminism, because it presumes that whatever choices women want to make are to be supported, as a matter of women's autonomy. Thus, even choices that result in (or stem from) inequality or disempowerment become sacred because these are matters of “choice.”

PVW

Yes this is one of those where a certain situation, might be an indication of two very different things depending on whose party it shows up. Yes maybe marriage and relationships might just be an irritation for some white women but for black women coming from point XYZ to the white woman point ABC, marriage and long term relationships are a sign/indication (note I said sign/indicattion) of a shared burden for the upkeep of black families which black women have hitherto been left to struggle with alone.

You get a strong sense from NWNW critics writings of an insistance that the present orientation and situation of bw is their 'true north' which shouldnt be questioned but be safeguarded and supported. these critics strongly refuse to understand or even contemplate that maybe just maybe, bw are doing these things under the influence of a restrictive cultural dictate. At least we are willing to toss that discussion into the debating plate for contemplation.

It just seems to me that a whole bunch of folk have gotten access to a whole bunch of catchy new phrases which they are trotting out left and right to show they are so knowlegeable and possibly at the cutting age of equality thinking etc. but by so doing they are really showing the total opposite!

Evia said...

Halima, virtually all of the confusion among bw regarding this issue and many others is due to bw contorting themselves to accommodate the damaged thinking and behavior of bm. If AA men became cannibals, a large share of AA women would become cannibals too. It wouldn't take long.

Since the bulk of black males in the West have adopted the thinking and behaviors that are out of sync with the norms of most cultures, societies and groups in the world, black women suicidally adjust their thinking and behavior to follow suit. This is THE pattern of behavior of the masses of bw.

For ex. I cannot imagine more than a handful (if even that many) of bw arguing that it's fine for them to have massive numbers of children OOW by white men or Asian men. LOL! They would NEVER do that. It's only because they're having these children by black males who won't marry them and assume the role of men and responsible fathers, that these women are making this foolish argument.

I've noticed these patterns where the black male is the common denominator:

1. Since it's the norm for the bulk of AA women of the lower socioeconomic demographic these days allow AA males to convince them that marriage is not necessary and/or allow these males to dictate the terms of the interaction or relationship, bw in general end up doing exactly what bm want (no matter how self-destructive) IF they are to have an ongoing interaction or relationship with a typical AA male. He makes her understand that this is simply the price that she has to pay for that "relationship."

2. SOME bw are losing interest in or tamping down their pursuit of higher education because that's what they have to do to remain around the bulk of bm and/or remain non-threatening and non-"bougie" to large numbers of AA males/men for sure. This is the same as some black students letting their grades drop so that they won't be accused of "acting white" which makes it tougher or virtually impossible for them to be accepted by the ABCs. This is the price they must pay.

3. Many younger bw (some from working class/middle class) are now going to prison at much higher rates these days BECAUSE they are engaging in "relationships" with criminally oriented bm. These women end up as unwitting accomplices or also engaging in criminal behavior since this is the boyfriend's lifestyle. This is the price she has to pay to keep him.

And let's be real about this. There is only a relative small proportion of younger AA men, for sure, who don't fit one or more of the profiles above. Many of the bm who are in the relative small portion of "good" "normal" upwardly mobile bm who don't, do not want/choose a typical bw unless she has looks, hair, makeup, clothes, mannerisms, etc.) that resembles Beyonce's or Halle's or some other deified woman.

None of this would be so bad IF it could be kept contained among the lower demographic (since ALL groups have a lower demographic), but among AAs, this self-destructive mindset and behavior continues to creep up and up into the middle class black girl or bw's thinking and behavior. Why? It's because so many AA women and bw of that type have been programmed for centuries to be self-sacrificing for non-reciprocating, hateful bm.

Errant bm's thinking and behavior really need a highly publicized chop-down by powerful men. As long as these DBRbm of all socioeconomic levels are allowed to reign supreme in their damaged thinking and behavior, more and more bw are going to adjust and accommodate themselves to fit into the damage. Or until bw can radically alter this chokehold programming, nothing much can change.

Evia said...

Halima, virtually all of the confusion among bw regarding this issue and many others is due to bw contorting themselves to accommodate the damaged thinking and behavior of bm. If AA men became cannibals, a large share of AA women would become cannibals too. It wouldn't take long.

Since the bulk of black males in the West have adopted the thinking and behaviors that are out of sync with the norms of most cultures, societies and groups in the world, black women suicidally adjust their thinking and behavior to follow suit. This is THE pattern of behavior of the masses of bw.

For ex. I cannot imagine more than a handful (if even that many) of bw arguing that it's fine for them to have massive numbers of children OOW by white men or Asian men. LOL! They would NEVER do that. It's only because they're having these children by black males who won't marry them and assume the role of men and responsible fathers, that these women are making this foolish argument.

I've noticed these patterns where the black male is the common denominator:

1. Since it's the norm for the bulk of AA women of the lower socioeconomic demographic these days allow AA males to convince them that marriage is not necessary and/or allow these males to dictate the terms of the interaction or relationship, bw in general end up doing exactly what bm want (no matter how self-destructive) IF they are to have an ongoing interaction or relationship with a typical AA male. He makes her understand that this is simply the price that she has to pay for that "relationship."

2. SOME bw are losing interest in or tamping down their pursuit of higher education because that's what they have to do to remain around the bulk of bm and/or remain non-threatening and non-"bougie" to large numbers of AA males/men for sure. This is the same as some black students letting their grades drop so that they won't be accused of "acting white" which makes it tougher or virtually impossible for them to be accepted by the ABCs. This is the price they must pay.

3. Many younger bw (some from working class/middle class) are now going to prison at much higher rates these days BECAUSE they are engaging in "relationships" with criminally oriented bm. These women end up as unwitting accomplices or also engaging in criminal behavior since this is the boyfriend's lifestyle. This is the price she has to pay to keep him.

And let's be real about this. There is only a relative small proportion of younger AA men, for sure, who don't fit one or more of the profiles above. Many of the bm who are in the relative small portion of "good" "normal" upwardly mobile bm who don't, do not want/choose a typical bw unless she has looks, hair, makeup, clothes, mannerisms, etc.) that resembles Beyonce's or Halle's or some other deified woman.

None of this would be so bad IF it could be kept contained among the lower demographic (since ALL groups have a lower demographic), but among AAs, this self-destructive mindset and behavior continues to creep up and up into the middle class black girl or bw's thinking and behavior. Why? It's because so many AA women and bw of that type have been programmed for centuries to be self-sacrificing for non-reciprocating, hateful bm.

Errant bm's thinking and behavior really need a highly publicized chop-down by powerful men. As long as these DBRbm of all socioeconomic levels are allowed to reign supreme in their damaged thinking and behavior, more and more bw are going to adjust and accommodate themselves to fit into the damage. Or until bw can radically change this chokehold programming, nothing much can change.

Khadija said...

Well, Evia has perfectly laid it out. BW suicidally adjusting to cater to damaged BM's thinking and behavior is the bottom line to all of this feigned confusion about NWNW.

Bellydancer said...

To add to Evia and PioneerValley Woman who summed it up nicely, just because you can doesn't mean you should do something.
As a feminist I noticed during discussions with younger white feminists they thought having a baby oow was no big deal then I would tell them I was a result of that and it was a big deal (crickets) you see I broke their idealic view of so called "happy" single motherhood down into pieces.
I was looked at as an anomoly because I was not happy or jolly about being poor, from an unwed home or growing up in the projects.
I knew it was not normal to do all these things. They were used to bw being "happy" with this type of life.
I think this is where racism can come in with certain feminist who don't want to upset the cultral apple cart by calling out certain behaviors that are damaging to women like oow births for black woman, forced and arranged marriages for muslim and hindu women, rapes and forced labor attrocities on latin american women and anti-semitic behavior towards jews in general.
Some feminist will tiptoe around these issues and even try to protect some bm by citing racism as a factor for their behaviour thus turning everthing around and blaming the big bad white man for the worlds ills. Of course while never allowing any of these damaging things to pass their doorsteps.

Anonymous said...

I am new to the BWE blogs and websites and I have to say the only thing I found confusing about NWNW was the criticism and backlash. I was completely unprepared for and saddened by the responses and criticisms.

Sandra77 said...

NWNW is such an absolute no-brainer, that it's hard to imagine any sentient being (especially one who wants the best for BW) to take issue with it. Yet take issue they have. People are advocating for BW and black children a life that they advocate for no others on planet earth! I shouldn't have been amazed, but amazed I am. Anyone who doubted what Halima, Evia, Khadija, CW and the other BWE bloggers have been trying to tell us for the last 5 years or more has just had all doubts erased! Enlightened BW need to know what's real and who is on our side. Just because someone looks like us (other BW and BM) or is the same gender as us (other women) does not mean they understand BW's lives and realties or that they want the best for BW (heck, BM and other women don't want BW competing with them for the spoils of this earth)! Nonetheless, I am glad that Chrystlelynn started and others have supported NWNW. It's had a two-fold effect - it's getting the word out to BW (young and old) who will listen that there is another way and it's helping BW to recognize and distinguish friend from foe.

squarlymade said...

I will probably need to make several post to fit every thing in.
When and where is the space for bw to come together and share what is creating their life’s circumstance /challenges, right here, right now.
YES, truth has come forth. Feminism isn’t for AA women. That needs to be said. It’s for white women. Of all the times in my life when I have been/am being oppressed or attacked it has been by a white woman, and here is the kicker-if any one ever did come to my rescue it was always a white man! Whether the ww was making an off comment about my daughter’s hair, treating me hastily in the library, shunning or holding back service to me, mocking my ethnic heritage, there was a white man that would come over and either give her (ww) a look(most often)/say “she’s fine leave her alone”/try to replace compliment for insult/redirect me in the right direction. I can say that bw’s needs are different from white women because ww are a large source if not the largest source in oppressing us. It was my white first grade teacher would walk by my desk and make snide comments to me. I was to young to understand the comments were wrong (she eventually held me back a grade). White women oppress black woman/girls.

squalymade said...

A lot of times when these bm/ww couples get together they share a common thread to putdown AA women. I have a white friend ( who came from a very racist ‘rich’ family) who was married to a black man. She told me that he (her husband) didn’t want to marry/date a black woman because they have really bad attitudes! She would go on and on about her hair, manners, stuff that she thought made her white and how wonderful she was in so many words. These were the sweet nothings he would whisper in her ear-you’re better then bw. I just kept quiet, until he dumped her told her she was ‘white trash’ and had her and his kids move out of their marriage home. He then married and Asian woman, which my friend was NOT happy about. My point is that both white woman and black men are oppressing bw with eyes wide open, and the pinnacle of that oppression is when they form marriages (together) which are based off their oppression of bw and their resistance to the big bad white man. That is why they don’t last! Black women need to know and understand that they must flee from DBRbm. This doesn’t need to be an apologetics message. AAmen –MOST, are DBR, if they appear to not be or are not, what you would consider DBRbm, then they don’t want you as a black woman! So to sum things up- there are no black men available to black women in any type of legitimate way (period). There are NONE available legitimately which is needed for a community. THAT is why the ‘bc’ can’t produce an effective, functioning, legitimate community. Abandon ship! Quickly!

squalymade said...

Yes our voice is different from white women-that’s not a strange/wrong/bad/undesirable thing. Our voice is what is going to set as apart and reveal our true treasures-watch as ww and bm try to hinder ‘our voice’.
Yes our voice is different from black men. The more of us and faster we separate ourselves from them, the quicker you will see AAwomen start springing forward!

tertiaryanna said...

Anonynous at 2:54


"I would like to hear more though about how black woman's needs are so greatly different than a white woman's. It would seem class trumps everything else. Women from poor backgrounds (black or white) would have more and different needs than those born into upper middle class environments (white or black). "

Ok, this could have been done with a simple internet search.

It should not be hard to understand why women of the same economic tier may have vastly different social, educational, familial and parental environments. This was one of the fundamental push behind the civil rights movement: to even out the disparity between people of the same economic class. Even a basic awareness of history would show the huge difference between how poor White and poor Black women are treated in a majority White environment. Even a casual look into contemporary events would show the disparities between people with similar backgrounds and different races.

In any case, it's a red herring here.

I feel like the statement: "class trumps race" is derailing the conversation at hand which is that different feminist frameworks are not applicable to women equally AND that there's little benefit in adopting a framework without checking that it's even fitting your cause. It's critically important to take a look at your own particular situation before blindly applying "solutions" that may not have been crafted with you in mind.

Debating on the particulars of how a Black woman and White woman are or are not similar with everything else being equal ignores the following:

1. The situation between Blacks and Whites is not economically equal.
2. Not educationally equal
3. Not socially equal.
4. Not politically equal

pretty much, disproportionate across the board.

And even if they were totally identical, it's no excuse for following advice before knowing if it's even applicable to you.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Bellydancer:

As a feminist I noticed during discussions with younger white feminists they thought having a baby oow was no big deal then I would tell them I was a result of that and it was a big deal (crickets) you see I broke their idealic view of so called "happy" single motherhood down into pieces.
I was looked at as an anomoly because I was not happy or jolly about being poor, from an unwed home or growing up in the projects.
I knew it was not normal to do all these things. They were used to bw being "happy" with this type of life. I think this is where racism can come in with certain feminist who don't want to upset the cultral apple cart by calling out certain behaviors that are damaging to women

My reply:

But don't forget, that a fair number of black women have adhered to the "strong black woman" stereotype and have excused away black community dysfunction, and thus, when white feminists questioned those, they were called cultural imperialists.

I never did like the strong black women stereotype for the very reason you mention.

Returning to the strong black women stereotype, when black women adhere to it, and seem "happy" as you suggest, it enables white feminists to uphold them as the "poster girls" for a certain type of feminist strength and resilience, a feminist strength and resilience that only the most radical type of white feminists adhere to, the "don't need a man, I'm independent type".

[I have always been pragmatic about feminism. Women are discriminated against, they do experience domination, yet they are different and in need of protection. I like critical race feminism because it addresses black women's needs as women.]

More moderate to liberal feminists adhere to a vision of feminism that sounds more like that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a well-known feminist icon who was within the legal arm of the women's rights movement--I read a story about her recently.

She came of age and went to law school at a time in the 1950s when very few women, black as well as white, attended. [Constance Baker Motley attended law school around the same time.] Ginsburg married in her early 20s, started law school and gave birth to her first child while she was in school.

When most women were not working, she was concerned about supporting her family because her husband was ill for a few years early in their marriage. Once he got better, she found she liked working so much she didn't want to quit.

By the 1970s, she was litigating cases that enabled the legal changes that gave more women equal rights (regardless of race, ie., survivor benefits, and things of that nature). She became a judge in the 1990s and is now the most senior woman on the Supreme Court.

Her young clerks over the years have admired her as a woman who effectively balanced work and family within the context of an egalitarian marriage (her husband was a well-known tax lawyer) to a man who supported her in all of her interests. They were married for 56 years before he died recently.

Shan said...

Squalymade,

Your post was an eye opener. Bm do have a vested interest in oppressing bw because they don't want bw to surpass them in any way, as does ww. For the most part, I've had no real, serious problems with bw, but one thing that I have noticed is that if the bw is big and fat and fits the mammy image, they smile and laugh with her and are comfortable. They don't bother her or look for something to complain about, but if the bw is thinner than them and pretty, then there's bound to be trouble, especially if their white man is checking her out. They'll make snide comments about her weight; they've done this with me while smirking to make it come off as a joke. WW can't stand to see a bw that's thinner than them. That goes against what they stand for. LOL

To be honest, I don't take bm/ww relationships seriously. I never had because they seem to do it to get back at wm and bw, while wm and bw can date and pay no one any mind. If ww and bm could see how they behave in public in comparison to the way bw and wm behave, they would be embarrassed.

WW can't stand to see bw and ww men talking. If I had a nickel for every time, a ww either cut her eye at me or tried to cut into the conversation, then I would be rich. WW are afraid of something about bw. You don't see bw interrupting conversations with bm and ww, so ww have to be afraid of something about bw to do this.

I agree. Feminism is for white women. Bw and ww have different needs here in America.

Anonymous said...

I find this post very interesting. I do hope you expand on these ideas.

Feminism which encompasses the black female experience is lacking. I remember sniggering to myself when reading how women (read white) were prevented from working outside of the home. My mother was certainly not one of those women nor indeed were many of the black mother's I knew. I realised then, feminism as discussed on my course was not talking about moi. I think it is Khadija who is constantly reminding us to examine the practical outcomes of ideas and whether people are actually doing what they propose we do. How has being 'the strong black woman', feisty, loyal to those who do not reciprocate, single-mother, 'big mama' actually advanced our cause? What I see around me are many overweight, stressed, sick emotionally and physically black women. Those that are not are being told there is something wrong with them for not marrying below par black men or just something plain wrong for being successful, career minded individuals.

As others have commented we do need to be mindful of class differences and unfortunately much of the discussion on BWE blogs tend to confuse the lack of opportunity for poorer women with the greater opportunities professional or well off women have. There aren't for example many poor women who have the financial freedom to escape the damaging environments they live in.

That said I don't think we need to fear the naysayers. The more they oppose the better for seeing them. It will be a long struggle and I guess we have to be prepared. We are at the consciousness raising stage. The good news is we don't have to re-invent the wheel we can take what works for us from feminism and ditch the rest.

I would welcome a detailed discussion of the strands of feminism which does not work for us.

Evia said...

Yes, white women (even feminists ones) still get protection from their men as a collective

Yes, wm will always protect ww--even if their women dislike them and even if they have to do it from afar because they understand that if their women are beaten down and spiritually degraded, broken, etc. their race is headed straight for extinction. In general, AA men and black men of this type do NOT care whether AAs become extinct because AA men have been defeated and conquered. It would put them out of their misery if the AA collective becomes extinct. Think about it. I am convinced that this is the main reason why AA males are trying to breed-out or bleach-out what they consider to the "curse" of their melanin. Their melanin has caused them so much pain in the West until on a deeper level, it is logical on a survival level that they would want to get rid of it. I don't actually blame them for that, but what I despise them for about that is that they use and abuse bw (their mother's lineage) along the way to be the wind beneath their wings. In other words, these males are trying to step on bw's backs in order to get up and out.


I would like to hear more though about how black woman's needs are so greatly different than a white woman's. It would seem class trumps everything else. Women from poor backgrounds (black or white) would have more and different needs than those born into upper middle class environments (white or black).

IMO as a middle-upper middle class AA woman, I think that sometimes class trumps race and sometimes race trumps class. For ex. no matter how high the class of a bw, her race sometimes causes her to experience SOME of the same concerns of lower class bw because of some of the stereotypes about blacks.

For ex., I've mingled with higher class or wealthy black women in clubs and organizations like Jack and Jill and 100 Black Women of NJ, and they worry a lot about whether their black sons are going to be shot to death by the police, simply for being bm since bm are stereotyped for being very aggressive and unruly.

NONE of my several white sister in laws are ever concerned about their sons being shot to death or treated unfairly by the police, not even my one working class white sister in law. That's a remote concern of a typical ww of any class.

Also, I would say that MOST bw of ALL classes don't feel that black men protect them or CAN protect them from whites or even from other blacks, or from structural racism. That's another concern that my white sister in laws don't have. They never have to worry about structural racism for themselves or for their children. They know that their regular-guy white husband can and will usually intervene and protect them from other whites and the whole group of whites will protect ww from blacks. Actually, law enforcement is always going to protect ww because if not, then that means white genocide.

I could give numerous examples, but I'll stop here.

Evia said...

(Continued)

Class trumps race when it comes to things like income, education, quality of environment, lifestyle, etc.

Also money definitely does or can lessen the harshness of race issues for a black woman. Many black women who have money or are of a certain class never come face to face with racism. Some only do so, rarely. Their lifestyle, where they live, where they go to school or where their children go to school, friends, associates, job etc. and even things like the way they talk (good diction, for ex.) shields them. Some of them may worry about race issues (like those black mothers I mentioned above), but the overwhelming majority of them of them I've known don't experience it directly.

Also if you're really upper middle class, and higher you tend to know other people who are also in your class and many "sticky" situations are handled with a phone call because of networking, especially if you're married to a wm of that class.

Most middle and upper middle class white women and their husbands I've known and mingled or lived with tend to be a part of an informal or quasi network and that network is important to and for them. They consider it "just getting along with your neighbors" or your co-workers, etc. but it's more than that because those informal relationships help them a lot. They tend to try to keep the network working smoothly. They don't think of it as a network though--since it's just a way of life for them. This provides ww with advantages also.

Even when AA women are of a higher socieconomic class, it can't be assumed that there's a network of that sort to help them. I think this is why upper class AA women form those clubs like 100 Black Women of this and that and keep their sorority memberships and such. Those clubs and organizations can be quite helpful sometimes.

However, a really lower income/class white woman, for ex. does not have those advantages in most cases. The quality of her environment is usually not as good (in certain places, for sure); her education is not as good; her lifestyle is not as varied and good. She exercises much less control over these factors of her life. Her income is of course, not good. And without money, people simply don't have nearly as many choices as people have if they have money. Since she's white, she will usually have more control over many of these factors than a bw of the same class.

However, none of these are absolutes.

squarlymade said...

'Womanism' is the standard of feminism that does work for us. And even more simply, we just need to acknowledge what we experience and act/plan/prepare accordingly and help other bw do the same.
__________
Shan said
"but if the bw is thinner than them and pretty, then there's bound to be trouble"
Yes this is very true. And to be honest I just caught game of this a few years ago. I am thinner thin most white women I see, and I do catch wm eyes. I started to realize these women were in stark competition!

Anonymous said...

I remember waaay back in the 70s when they would talk about 'women and minorities' I've wondered if black women were being 'left out' then (women means white women) or else they would say minority WOMEN--my mom never did have to work away from home when i was little because it was a status symbol for most men to take care of their families financially--now there are sooo many uneducated men today, that women would have to take care of THEM financially(that is in all colors) but mostly black and latino. Unless she marries a nerd, she would have to be a 'breadwinner'--most young guys today don't even know HOW to work on cars anymore

Pat said...

WW can't stand to see bw and ww men talking. If I had a nickel for every time, a ww either cut her eye at me or tried to cut into the conversation, then I would be rich. WW are afraid of something about bw. You don't see bw interrupting conversations with bm and ww, so ww have to be afraid of something about bw to do this.

Of course they are. I have an interracial couple across the street from me bm/ww. She still gives me crazy looks! They think that we hate them (ww) but ironically they seem to have the problem with us. I am happy to see black men with white women. I hope that it gets up to 50% (ww/bm). I hope that bw/wm gets up to about 30% like it is in England. Black women have the most to gain given the vast amount of wealth is had by white men and some black women will benefit from that...

Divine said...

I am a 25 y/o bw who is happily married to a wm. I am a former feminist of A Lady Divine who closed my blog and stepped away from (white) feminism after a vicious attack from a yet unidentified group of white women. I say this to remind folks who may have interacted with me (bellydancer being one.) Also to validate and support what Halima is saying here. I will never forget the gem Halima gave me just before I closed my blog, it has helped me tremendously. It was along similar lines as what she said here and was filled with so much wisdom.

White women can afford all this anti-marriage crap. Lesbian women can speak against marriage, and i do not discourage them to do so both among themselves and to other lesbian women/girls. But what about hetero black women? What are we to do? Should we all become lesbians because bm have issues? Should we all become lesbians because of the patriarchy?

I don't think that feminism will ever be ready for black women like me. I understand the arguments and theory, and I support lesbian separatism for those who choose it. This is not the only narrative though, and I struggled with the perception that being pro-marriage (to decent men, even while understanding that men are socialized through misogyny) is anti-woman and anti-feminist. White women are greedy gate keepers and want to keep control of the movement that said, there is no room in white feminism for black women of any sexual orientation, and especially not hetero black women. I was involved long enough to know that and to know that the core message, these days, in feminism is anti-bw overall and counter-productive to our needs.

What would white feminists do in our position? I honestly say they couldn't live through it, moreover they WOULDN'T. Feminism was borne out of white women's frustrations with losing their rights to EVERYTHING upon marriage. When white women were fighting to own property or to retain rights to inherited property after marriage, black women were fighting to not be ANYONE'S property, white men, white women, and black men alike. We weren't human, we were chattle. I think it is fundamentally important that EVERY black woman and girl remember that whenever they consider joining white feminism.

There is nothing about our experience and existence that a white woman can identify with. Even non-white identified women wouldn't be able to identify with and submit to the standards black women are expected and demanded to endure. Black women cannot afford to join or even trust white women. Let me say this again, black women cannot afford to join or even trust white women. I don’t care how nice a white woman may be to you, you had better make sure you know her good and well, and we need to apply this vetting process to ALL people, even with each other as we have seen that even some black women are anti bw. It is actually in our best interest to stay as far away from white feminism as possible. It is yet another way white women get black women to do their bidding for them. It’s almost as if black women have been trained so well and it is so deeply imbedded in our minds to SERVE and become ENSLAVED to those privileged over us that we are bound to seek out different masters until we wake the hell up and realize that every social movement uses us for its causes and discards us when we attempt to add our issues to the agenda. It is high time that the message preached is to not become ENSLAVED to anyone, not your church, not your faith, not your husband, boyfriend, family NO ONE.

Divine said...

A woman I know just went through a TERRIBLE experience with her sister. The girl has always been a selfish black male identified prick who used her body and looks to get what she wanted, and expected everyone to contribute to her delusions of victimhood. When said prick’s sister (lets call her tammy) got fed up, finally after YEARS of abuse from the younger sister, and demanded that she stand on her own two, pay back what she owed to her and to other sisters younger than tammy, tammy hauled and tried to start an argument. When her sister didn’t fall for it, she called the cops and lied and tried to have her sister arrested, her own damn sister, because she couldn’t have her way. She then tried to slam and bash her sister to family and friends in a tired effort to rally support and ostracize her sister. That said, even your FAMILY will expect and demand that you serve them. Especially those of us with good hearts who have been brainwashed into believing that blind, constant servitude is a good thing.
So we know what white feminists do and what they would do and will do. What we black women need to do is stop being afraid to take care of ourselves. There is a difference between being selfish and being a sucker, and bw have bought the switch. Self preservation is a survival instinct that everyone needs to have. There is nothing self preserving about serving everyone elses interests and needs above your own. And I say this as someone who is fighting tooth and nail to liberate my mind and thought process from these chains. That is what feminism represents to me, a prison of black women who are tasked with securing freedoms and benefits that are available damn near exclusively to white women and white identified/white looking women. This includes Latinas, Asians, etc. imo

Divine said...

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db18_Fig_5.png
This chart is the breakdown by age of oow births.

This chart is the breakdown by race of oow births, for anyone who might need to see it for themselves.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db18_Fig_3.png

These statistics are FRIGHTENING! It absolutely stuns me that there are damaged effed up women out there ADVOCATING for this mess to continue. I'm so glad someone is speaking out against the baby factory!