Who Needs Feminism?

by Renee Martin

Women of color and disabled women both have a long history of forced sterilization.  Our fight is to have the right to give birth, raise our children, as well as the right to have an abortion.  Our right to mother is constantly under assault and we are deemed either incapable of raising our own children, or irresponsible breeders.  Similarly, it is common to hear Latina women accused of having anchor babies.  The explicit racism and sexism in this term goes unchallenged.

The gender gap in terms of wage is under constant debate, but what continues to escape discussion is that those who occupy the poorest percentile are women of color.  According to the Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Work, women make up 60 percent of the low wage workforce; however, African American women make up 35.8 percent of that figure, compared to 26.2 percent who are White. Equalizing labor between men and women will not necessarily equal subsistence wage for Black women, but you wouldn’t know that from feminist conversations.

Women of color and trans* women are still struggling in 2012 to be understood as full women.  Trans women of color are subjected to extremely high rates of violence.  In 2010 The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released its annual report and it revealed that 70% of the hate-based violence was aimed at LGBT people of color, and of the overall total, 44% of the victims were trans.

Despite being in the so-called third wave of feminism, we have seen no advancement in respect to transphobia. Feminist Mary Daly called trans women Frankensteinian necrophiliacs. Germaine Greer who was recently glitter bombed by The Queer Avengers said that “the existence of trans women is morally equivalent to murder.” In 2009 Greer penned a piece regarding South African middle-distance runner and world champion Caster Semenya for The Guardian, in which she wrote about men passing as women and declared this to be a ghastly parody.   There is also Julie Bindel, who famously wrote, “I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women.” Feminism has a long history of anti-trans hate. A trans woman deciding to avoid the label of feminist, could rightly be seen as an act of self preservation.

There isn’t a single social justice movement that has managed to avoid problematic elements, and feminism is no different in that regard.  When it comes to feminism, the issue is the denial of the various problematic elements, while declaring a refusal to identify as feminist as an internalization of right wing rhetoric. Feminism needs to be honest about its past and its ongoing problems. It’s not fair to ask young people to identify as feminist without making sure that those who do take on the label are aware of what they are associating themselves with.  How many marginalized women have to go through the heartbreak of disillusionment with feminism, before feminist organizations decide to be truly intersectional or honest about their stated goals?

  • apple

    white women. i dont need it, because being black is more of threat of being a woman, maybe if i lived in another country i may take that back.. the more you move of the hierarchy of social class, less you have to worry about, and the more you have to fabricate things to worry about.

  • Fa

    Intersectionality is actually a very viable opportunity to understand women’s issues, particularly those that mediate one another. Also, some researchers (like myself) are using it as a methodological approach to explore women’s issues like mental health. So I disagree that it is a “buzzword”. It was created by black women to interrogate power relations and injustices, and it is central to Black feminist theory.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    IF you can honestly say as a black woman in the year 2012 your race impacts you more than your gender something is truly wrong. You are either not paying attention, ignorant about a few things or just in the denial.

    I personally would say it’s an even split. Race/Racism is a problem outside the black community and Gender/Sexism is a problem inside the black community.

    Black women don’t need white women’s brand of feminism….we need our own because we are impacted by both race and sexism.

  • Terrence

    @Toppin

    Please go educate yourself because black women created their own form of feminism in the early 1970s and get helped usher in the destruction of the black family.

  • Anon

    I am NO feminist. Those broads are CRAZY and only look out for the interests of wealthy white women while using the labor and creative processes of WOC to advance THEIR interests. Read Jezebel for a week and see if you can vibe with even the LONE black editor’s articles. GUURRRRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLLL, that site tosses up a black woman article at LEAST once a day for page hits so “feminists” can debate the basic humanity of black women and children. Go to that Feministing site. You can see the bias from across the room.

    I don’t know how any woman with sense of self-preservation can align themselves with that movement. 3rd wave feminism is so far off the rails, the train tracks aren’t even in sight anymore.

  • Crystal

    @Terrence

    “helped usher in the destruction of the black family” – are you serious? Issues that are attributed to that of the black family predate black feminism. Although our/my grandparents and great grandparents stayed together…the institution of the black family struggled long before the 1970s documentation and “definition” of black feminism, thanks in part to bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins. However, black feminist thought (oddly enough) is not just for black women. It does recognize that there is at least two oppressive factors that black women must address (race and gender), but the ideology is mostly about recognizing one’s ability to asses their own value and define themselves in society. This idea anyone can apply. Recognize the oppressive forces and assert your own power to reject them and define yourself. The misconception that black feminism rejects family-oriented values is just not accurate.

  • LN

    @Anon… I agree that Jezebel gets on my last nerve sometimes. While I am a daily reader (I have yet to find a more complete online compilation of women’s issues), it is certainly written from a very white, very priveleged, INSANELY whiny point of view. And their token articles about black women are INSANELY patronizing, for the most part.

    As far as feminism, I consider myself a feminist… but I’m not really a part of mainstream feminist culture. Just like I consider myself a Christian… but I’m not a part of mainstream Christian culture. Just like I support some of the principles of Occupy Wall Street… but I’m not a part of the mainstream “Occupy” culture. I support gay rights… but I’m not part of the mainstream gay rights culture.

    See the trend here? All of these movements were born from a white point of view, and I find that white people do an absolutely terrible job of incorporating people of color in a meaningful way. And you know what, I’m fine with it.

  • QCastle

    @Anon

    Are you really going to ignore the contributions of priviledged white women in the feminist movement? For better or for worse those white women put in work. Where was black women during Roe vs.Wade considering the number of abortions we have? Black women allow white women to be the face of abortion rights while we have the most abortions.

  • apple

    @toppin

    dont give sh*t! this is my problem not yours. and according to american feminism MY life as a woman isn’t as bad as it is as a black person. and its how I FEEL. if being a woman is more of a problem/equal for you then good for you or , but women issues aren’t really MY problem, if i say lived in a country with honor killings for rape or not being a virgin, female genitalia mutilation or domestic violence being legal then sure it would be a problem. but i’m more likely to be harmed/disenfranchised because i’m black, being a woman is just the icing on the cake!

  • feminismforall
  • QCastle

    @apple

    This may not mean much to you but I agree. I feel extremely privileged in America and the UK as a woman. Also the black American community is far more egalitarian along gender lines than say the Hispanic community or the Asian community. I’d s ay the Hispanic community is far more sexist than the black one. I dont even want to compare my life to that of a woman in other countries.

  • Jaslene

    apple are you stupid or ignorant? I’m serious in my questioning. Where do you live? The statements you made are beyond baffling. Have you ever read history books or understood the struggle that Black women had for being black and a woman. Sometimes the issues, obstacles and struggles we face as Black women are because of the mere fact that we are Black women not because we are black or a woman. So read up and learn because honey child you are in for a rude awakening. Go ahead and think that a as you move up the hierarchy of the social class the less you have to think about but you may want to ask a few of those Black men, Black women and any other race of women what the real deal is and they will definitely give you the lowdown as you make the come up.

  • http://www.medigapcost.com bhealthy

    I agree with the writer that the word feminist has a lot of bad publicity that goes with it. I feel the fight for women’s rights would go better if we didn’t label ourselves at all. Why do we have to be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or whatever. Why not just be a concerned individual who wants women of all races all over the world to be treated fairly.

  • ObjectivelySpeaking

    Today’s Feminism is the biggest form of bigotry. Fortunately, many men (and enlightened women) are waking up to take their stand where this unbridled ideologue goes too far.

  • http://www.whattamisaid.com Tami Winfrey Harris

    @apple,

    Feminism makes no claim about who has it worse: black people or women–mainly because some people are both black and women. This is called intersection. Black people are often paid less than white counterparts with similar skills; women are often paid less than men with similar skills. Black women are the recipients of both of these oppressions. In a sexist society, women face the threat of sexual violence, but statistically black women are more likely to be raped than white women. (American Indian and Alaskan women are most likely to face this threat).

    What I’m saying is that neither racism not sexism are mutually exclusive. In fact, any feminist worth her salt should also be anti other oppressions like racism. Any anti-racist person should be advocating for women’s equality, too. Because if we aren’t about justice for all, then we aren’t about justice AT ALL.

  • Anon

    @ Apple
    I hope that you’re 16 and under, because once you get to college and move out of wherever you’re living right now, you’ll catch a whole new clue. Did you see that cake story yesterday? That was done by a black MAN in front of a white audience. I hope that you NEVER forget that you’re a woman who is black. Focusing strictly on your race will get you in a heap of trouble later on in life. You’re a WOMAN too.

  • Anon

    Dude (I know you’re a man), don’t play this game with me. IF I choose to engage with you, it would be so that WOMEN reading this site could catch a clue. Spend some time at the barber shop and less time on a womens blog.

  • Yb

    @Anon actually it’s a women who suffers from extreme internalized misogyny. The best way to handle her is to either ignore her or pity her.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Crystal & Jaslene and everyone else

    Thank you. I wasn’t even going to respond to Terrance, who from I can tell (and I’m going by the comments he makes on this site period) is the stereotypical ignorant male. I mean seriously….READ A BOOK, READ A BOOK, READ A &*#$%&^ BOOK! The same applies to Apple, who is in for a rude awakening at some point in her life. SMH.

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    Seriously, intersectionality is REAL. Why are so many black folks, and other PoC, always trying to make it seem like ONE of their identities (race) is more oppressed than the other? We are all more than just ONE thing, which is exactly what the author of this article said. And they all related to, and feed into, one another.

    Being black, for me, has its own challenges. Add in my being a woman. And being dark-skinned. And being fat. And being in an interracial marriage. And being middle-class. And coming from a working-class family. And being a feminist. And being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. And being educated at a private university. And being X, Y and Z. All of that shit simply tacks on more and more challenges, disadvantages AND advantages. They are not singular. On their own, one might be more oppressed than another, but all of them combined creates its OWN challenge for me.

    White feminism… meh. One of the problems with white women — hell, with people as a whole, but white women specifically is who I’m talking about — is that they assume that all women have the same experiences. White feminism is based on this attitude that there ARE no other identities, and that the only one that matters is being a woman. It doesn’t take into account gender representation, or race, or class, or culture, or family background. It just assumes that WE ARE ALL MIDDLE-CLASS WOMEN who share the same struggle, and completely ignores the myriad details that make us individuals and, as a result, makes us have individual challenges AS women.

    At any rate, I am a proud, card-carrying feminist that recognizes that we all have our own individual shit to deal with, and just wants everyone to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of ANY visible or invisible characteristic or level of ability. I think that ANY woman who judges any other woman, even under the guise of “for her own good” or “out of concern” is full of PEA-GREEN BULL SH*T, and doesn’t deserve the right to carry the same card I carry.

  • Anon

    @Purple
    ” I think that ANY woman who judges any other woman, even under the guise of “for her own good” or “out of concern” is full of PEA-GREEN BULL SH*T,”-

    When did “don’t judge me” get popular? OF COURSE I’m going to judge other women. I need to know who to NOT surround myself with. Any parent worth their while should have taught their children “good” judgment skills. How do you discern good friendships from bad? Judgment. How do you discern a healthy romantic relationship vs. a toxic one? Judgment. How do you know when to not associate yourself with a group of people? Judgment.

    Judgment is a survival skill, one that I wish more BW honed.

  • Anon

    There are a few out there, but I won’t post them on this blog because I don’t want the random trolls here to follow over. You can still read Jezebel? Like the articles? Hats off to you! I can’t take that much stupid. I go for Dirtbag on Weds sometimes, and that’s about it. There are no good writers left in the entire network of sites.

    “INSANELY whiny point of view”- I’m always amazed that some of those chicks are out of college from the tone of things. Anyway, I personally just cannot in anyway claim feminism. Espcially as it is now. I’ve seen too many FOUL things go down esp. regarding BW and then they circle the wagons talking about “intent” or whatever new nonsense word is being used to cover their tracks. The “movement” is a mess.

  • http://harperdavis.hubpages.com Harper

    Okay, gonna try this commenting thing again (they won’t go through for some reason?).

    Anyway the current state of feminism is why I don’t want to refer to myself as one. I’m an avid reader of the likes of bell hooks and June Jordan, but the movement has gone very far from it’s original intent in many ways I’m afraid.

  • http://harperdavis.hubpages.com Harper

    Yay it went though!!!

    Oh *clears throat* sorry, lol.

  • QCastle

    @Anon
    @Yb

    Say what you want but you cant deny what I say is true. Its white women who are on the front lines fighting to expand the already grotesque laws we have on abortion while black women get to sit back and act like nice church ladies. You should thank those white women sometimes.

  • Chrissy

    I think you all were maybe just a little bit too hard on apple.

    I don’t necessarily agree but if that’s where she is at right now, then so be it. When she gets older (she might be older) she may still think that her blackness is the identity that will give her more problems

    We all have different experiences.

  • Whatever

    People are coming down on Apple but I somewhat agree. There is more than one feminist movement going on in America. There are white feminists that believe they are discriminated against just as much as black people and that is just absolutely ridiculous.

    Right now in 2012 in America you will be discriminated against for your race before your gender. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” still holds true today. A black woman’s plight in many cases is not the same as a white.

  • D

    Ugh. Really? Do you suffer from a significant pay gap? Do you fear walking on a street where there are mostly men in case you get followed and hurt? Are you continually criticized and taken down for your body no matter what it’s like? Do people discriminate against you for having too much and too little education and also assume about your sexuality? PLEASE. Feminism is a new movement. There have been very real repercussions for men, but the continued injustice towards women cannot be glossed over and left unexamined. A lot of men are talking about “men’s rights” and yes, women who abuse sexual harassment laws to get men fired, manipulate child custody cases, take the focus from violence against men, and form an audience for “stupid man” commercials are TANGIBLE problems, but our problems as women and the threat we face on the day to day just being that are far FAR greater than yours.

  • Alexandra

    I took a Women’s studies course a few years ago, and even then many young White women in that class couldn’t even grasp the concept of intersectionality.

    This is why a lot of non-White women choose to not call themselves feminist. The movement will never thrive as long as it continues to discriminate and dismiss the impact that race/health/identity has on any one woman. Feminism has picked up negative connotations in the past several years (various reasons I believe), and it is indeed mostly about White women’s issues. However, women’s rights is needed; as well as other movements. There are too many disparities across the board, and the lack of inclusiveness is what will keep division alive and lack of progress.

  • Anon

    Dude, you can feel free to thank them twice. Once for you, and then again… for YOU.

    Hey, now those chicks know they have a new stan, which is one more than they had yesterday.

  • Alexandra

    Wow. I’m going to respectively disagree with you as well, and I agree with the others.
    Sexism for Black women is a different ball game because it may not be easily identifiable if discrimination towards you is because of your race or gender. You can’t put one over the other, you are both. Sorry, but if you think your gender has less value compared to your race you are extremely mistaken; regardless of your experiences.

  • D

    I think that the reason a lot of women say “I’m not a feminist, but….” is that feminism has actually been a complex of evolving theories and “waves,” which is why some people refer to it as “feminisms” and “types of feminism” and not all women are comfortable agreeing to the complex of things under that umbrella. It is more than just the “simple notion that women are people.” It is academic and involves different theories and practices, that’s why a lot of the time, to fully understand feminism, one has to read up to know all the internal arguments between theorists and inconsistencies in theories, which I haven’t. Transphobia is the cause du jour at the moment and the fact that Germaine Greer said that nasty stuff is a sign that not all feminists are on the same page, or rarely are they ever. Someone can slam me for not having read Michelle Tea or exhibiting “cis privilege” or some stuff like that, so…. I guess I’m real lazy for not taking up feminism as a study, but wanting some rights as a woman. There is a crazy maze of politically correct terms that feminism has spawned, but they still fail to include people in a real way. And I am not willing to agree to the whole package of disagreeing viewpoints, just some.

    Jezebel pisses me off a lot of the time, too, partly because it also takes up slut shaming and taking weird sides against women’s bodies.

    Also, as far as “where feminism has taken men,” I’ve been hearing interesting debates about the fact that feminism has kind of messed up the arenas of sex, dating, and marriage. Like, a lot of women who want fulfilling relationships ask things like “when are men going to start courting women?” and despite the fact that women are earning more and getting more educated, men still have the power in terms of sex and dangling the carrot of a relationship. Apparently, these things matter to a lot of women, not just me, the idea that a man does not just want to have sex, but build a relationship. Makes me think of this Slate article I read http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/02/sex_is_cheap.html?wpisrc

    There is the idea that “female power and character” and “male power and character” are qualitatively different. And I find that interesting. I’m actually going to cite Chris from Stuff Black People Hate now https://stuffblackpeoplehate.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/feminism/

    I’m not entirely sure what to think of these ideas I’ve been absorbing, or how to describe them, but I do think that feminism has gotten us into an extremely difficult place as far as making relationships and building stable families rather than casual sex.

  • apple

    Whoa look I got a lot of nasty comments on MY experience as a black female. Feel better guys? Want a treat for being so mean? This is my experience not yours so don’t be mad for how i feel about MY life what you do/feel with yours is yours not mines.

  • H

    Wow. White women’s issues? We are all women, and while what you said about race, class, and gender are true, we face the same issues as white women. We just have more because of race. We face the same problems that black men face but more because of gender. I agree that we have some issues that aren’t even on their radar, but equal pay, representation, and ownership of our bodies is wanted by black, white, and other women. There is no need to be divisive.

    Most of the time black women place their problems under the topic of problems in the black community. Black men feel as if they themselves are too oppressed to tackle our issues, and white women can’t relate to some of the things going on. I think black women should just tackle their own issues outside of the black community and feminism. Black women tend to put their issues on hold when trying to help the community. Look at the Trayvon Martin case. What happened is very sad, but do you ever see black men walking through the streets to fight back against the violence that young girls and women face living in bad neighborhoods? Do you even see the women doing it? No. So yes feminism is whitewashed, but black women are too busy working on helping black men overcome “oppression,” and they are always sacrificing rather than putting themselves first. Black women need to focus on themselves and later black men.

  • QCastle

    @D

    “Do you fear walking on a street where there are mostly men in case you get followed and hurt?”

    Are you really…REALLY going to pose that question to a black man? You may be indifferent to the dangers black men/boys face when walking down the street because they are more likely to be attacked by someone who looks like them but lets not pretend its safe for black men/boys out there who just want to go about their business.

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  • Socially Maladjusted

    hmm?

    Well I’m curious to know how the “women” in this discussion propose to exert any transformative influence on society without the support of other oppressed groups.

    You reject solidarity with black men – erm . . because they’re black and male – and reject solidarity with non-black women because they’re female and not black.

    (Way to make yourselves irrelevent)

    Most of em on this site don’t even have any use for working class/lower income black women. Single mother = bad woman/mother to many here.

    On another thread the “women” commentors on this site are condoning the handcuffing of a six year old black girl.

    So I’m struggling to understand what can be accomplished by a group of people who are so intolerent of not only their own kind (?) but of others.

    Seems to me that the only people you are not offended by are white men.

    Now that’s curious.

    smh!

  • Anon

    @Apple

    Nasty comments? Nope, you got good advice.

    And here is some more good advice. Stop refering to yourself as “female”. That’s a degrading term and is associated with hoodrats and trifling behavior. Seriously. Calling yourself female is dehumanizing, and I’ve noticed this is a HUGE term amongst black women raised in poor environments, aka where rap and the dehumanization of black women took OFF in the black community.

    WHY do you refer to yourself as “female” instead of a woman or a girl? Think on that. You won’t like the answer, and I hope that you cease the practice.

  • Anon

    I KNEW YOU WERE A MAN!!!!

  • natalie

    One of my biggest issues (of the many) with feminism is the belief that any man that is anti-feminist is anti-woman or a misogynist. One is a biological demographic, the other an ideology. I too am glad that many women and men are beginning to reject the decades of indoctrination by feminist that has contributed in part to the rapid deterioration of black family and by extension the community. One of my practicum seminar students forwarded me this video regarding the alleged “war on women.”

  • natalie

    As a twenty year advocate for a womans right to choose I have of late found myself extremely conflicted given my work in the community with families.I wroite to you as a fellow progressive that served a mental health practitioner and long time advocate for CHOICE! Having worked in the field of psychology I have had to approach the unique challenge of providing therapeutic intervention for men whose psychological distress is directly linked to feelings of powerlessness as it relates to family and reproductive decision making. I have stood along side men in the trenches that have defended with great passion our right to “choose”. That is… the same men that fight so passionately for our rights have begun to on some level wonder why their voice in the discussion related to reproductive rights not even be heard in the discussion. I must admit that I have begun to evolve on this issue in a way that is more consistent with an old quote made by Karen Decrow of NOW..

    “Justice therefore dictates that if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support. Or, put another way, autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.” —

    Karen DeCrow, former NOW President ( National Organization for Women, U.S.A.)

    As I see the pro-life crowd amp up their attacks I cannot help but wonder howmany potential allies in the defense of roe v wade we have alienated by not including mens voice in the conversation on some level.

    In 2007, my nephew (19 at the time) committed suicide after a woman 7 years his senior admitted to pregnancy entrapment (contraception tampering) He was to attend college in the Fall but instead was served with CS orders. Absent the ability to prove in public what this woman admitted to in private my nephew was told to simply “man up” by the courts. After two years of depression his suicide note read… “I cannot believe this has happened. Some days are better than others, but I have decided that I would rather die than to continue to support – - – - . My entire life has been turned upside down and I pray that God recives me with understanding”.This has made it very personal for me.

    What I find most intriguing about the “war on women” is that I keep finding myself as twenty year choice advocate being perplexed by this dicussion. I work in community health. It is hard to ignore the statistics that 70% of our children are born to unwed mothers. Many of the very women for whom I have advocated for years don not even value or exercise the responsibility (use of birth control) that comes with complete control over reproduction pre and post conception. I am personally insulted by the suggestion of a war on women while we as black women continue to enjoy the right to complete control over reproductive decsions while abdicating ourselves of complete resonsibility that comes with it. With 20+ options for preventing pregnancy there is no reason for this statistic to be so high. What is disturbing is that we are marching in the streets regarding the assault on black men while I am (right now!) watching the police escort an unemployed neighbor to jail…not for robbery or assault but for his inability to pay child support! Listen I am a choice advocate but I am evolving in my beliefe that the very men that have stood in the trenches alongside me in defense of a womans right to choose would not even have their reproductive rights taken into consideration. Here is the hypocrisy as best illustrated in this cartoon

    http://www.tastymojo.com/LouisvilleMojo/photos_pgp/093/PG7432020080109062112593093.jpg

    Motherhood is a CHOICE in 2012 and we have alienated many potential male allies that do not desire to take that choice away but desire to simply have equal treatment under the law.You see by focusing on condom use and post-conception responsibility it focuses on male responsibility or lack of and absolves us of any responsibility for the personal choices that we made. When men “walk away” we refer to them as deadbeats but the top three reasons that they walk away are the very same reasons that women put their children up for adoption or abort. We dont refer to women as deadbeats for “abandoning” the responsibility that comes with conception but we extend compassion to our girls and women about the options they have should they not be in an ideal financial situation, relationship or the potential impact on career. Do we not believe that men experience the same anxieties and fears and can be impacted in a such a way as well? As one that has worked in community mental health and in private practice with men whose pain has often been dismissed and/or completely invisible to society I think its time we begin exploring these issues. I fought as have other women, too hard for a womans right to choose, while most simply enjoy the rights without responsibility.

    There has been a war on our men and I will simply say that a community that despises its men run the risk of creating a community of despicable men. I watched coverage of the crisis in Syria a couple of days ago. As is common practice in western journalism it was reported “20 killed including women and children” I thought little of it until my nephew of 21 years of age stated “Theres the problem right there, we get the message loud and clear; our lives are assigned different value than everyone elses.” I must admit that it is hard to argue that the value we have placed on our mens lives has been reduced to their “doings” instead of value in their being.

    As our roles began to evolve in society, we maintained the expectation that mens should remain the same. So while we aggressively asserted ourselves as “independent” women with complete control over our reproductive decisions and an ability to STAND ON OUR OWN we maintained the idea that men should remain the chivalrous, protectors and providers that we believed they should be. The problem with the idea that we “should raise our boys to be men” is that while we focused on empowering and nurturing our girls towards a re-defining of traditional expectations of womanhood, we as women maintained a traditional defining of manhood for men. The problem is that women should not engage in defining manhood for men as our expectation is rooted in a definition that is most beneficial to those doing the defining, WOMEN! The emasculating use of the term man up is rooted in our idea of a man falling short of our idea of “what a man is” without any regard for the idea that men define what manhood is for them. Should the way a man defines manhood for himself not be good fit for us then it is not meant for us to define it but rather to move on until we find a better fit for our ideals about manhood. I would never say that another woman is less of a woman because of a,b or c I would simply say that I am not that type of woman. I always hear the argument that we wouldnt have to define manhood for men if fathers would step up, but the idea that ones choice to engage in recreational sex that led to an unwanted pregnancy and the womans unilateral decision to go to term with the idea that a consent to sex is a consent to fatherhood and non-compliance with our “expectation of what a man SHOULD do” because men are no longer manning up, as opposed to accepting responsibility for our role in the current fatherlessness crisis is beginning to be challenged by many in our community that have had enough! It is a very interesting dichotomy where we are vocal about our strenngth and independence while maintaining the idea of ourselves as victims of mens ill intent. The very concept of focusing our attention on condoms (male symbol of sexual (ir) responsibility) and mens behavior post conception is a blatant attempt to shift focus away from the 20+ options we have available to us to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the lack of responsibility we demonstrated pre-conception. We cannot continue to ignore the voices of our men in this discussion. We also cannot keep saying “he should keep it in his pants if he doesnt want to pay” as it undermines our efforts to protect choice. We would never support a woman being told that we’d call it a “war on women.We began emphasizing accountability for men while extending them very little compassion. This was ruthless of course and it is respecting men but not necessarily loving them. On the other hand society began to emphasize compassion for women while extending them very little accountability.. it is infantilizing and it is loving women but not necessarily respecting them. (Goldich, 2011)

    There are a number of byproducts of this but perhaps one of the most dmaging to my community has been the pivot away from referring to unwed mothers in our community as such to being lumped in with divorced mothers and widows for the now all encompassing term “single mother”. With this for example came the unintended consequence of empowering generations of women towards acceptance of the current “babymama” phenomena. You see referring to an unwed mother as a single mother is empowering in that it createss the narrative of a “strong black woman that made it in spite of…”. So if a child attends college it is the testatment of the strength of a single mother..if the same child were to become incarcerated it is an indictment of the colossal failure of men/fathers. Unbelieveable! Another uninteneded consequence is the current “boy crisis” where the education disparity is growing, male suicide is increasing and the anti-male bias and bashing in society continues to become common practice. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO REDUCE THESE ISSUE TO SIMPLY MEN NEEDING TO MAN UP IN 2012 WHILE WE CREEP TOWARDS 8IN 10 UNWED CHILDBIRTH! Im not excusing men but it is our turn to stop standing with our backs to the mirror. Our condition is getting progressively worse. I feel personally insulted with my life long fight for our right to choose while we continue to bring children into the world under the the worst circumstances. Im tired!

  • Crystal

    Reading this article along with the reactive comments, one prevailing point of tension surfaces – who has it worse? This is a very subjective question, even if one where to present statistical data to persuade towards a particular claim. It is my hope that we can move away from the unhelpful and unhealthy conversation regarding who has it worse or what is worse (my gender or my race…or any other -ism categorization). Personally, there are instances in my life where the oppressive force of race prevails, but other times it is gender or body image or class or color-ism…and the list can go on and on. It is healthy to be aware of oppressive forces in your life (whatever they may be) and oppose those forces to define yourself and assert your own value. However, it is unhealthy and unhelpful to society to diminish the reality of another oppressive force for another person or group of people. By doing so, you transition from being the oppressed to actually being an oppressor. It is my hope that we challenge ourselves to be compassionate and empathetic to others, seeking knowledge and posing more questions for deeper meanings/truths.

  • QCastle

    @Anon

    And I know you are an idiot. How ironic that you would be focusing on my gender and not my arguments on an article about the importance or,lack there of, of Feminism.

  • Anon

    Dude, you need to learn how to keep the “base” out of your voice when pretending to be a woman. Why you all up on this blog anyway? And what argument do you EVER have that doesn’t involve bashing black women? Actually, when have you ever had a presentable argument in the first place?

    I know that Newark doesn’t have much to offer, but it DOES have more than you stannin’ at a keyboard all day long.

  • QCastle

    @H

    I think you need to field stronger contestants for the Victim Olympics.

    “Black women tend to put their issues on hold when trying to help the community.”

    What you talking about? The white woman dealt with your issues. You got all the government cheese you can eat- housing, WIC, Crystal Stairs, Section 8 , abortion on demand, Affirmative Action, comfy government jobs, etc. What more do you want? Oh right, you want to be on the cover of Vogue mag, you want an end to Euro Standards of beauty, you want to be in hip hop videos etc. Black womens issues have been reduced to who rich black men are having sex with and what white women got.

    “What happened is very sad, but do you ever see black men walking through the streets to fight back against the violence that young girls and women face living in bad neighborhoods?”

    Violence in the hood doesnt go unpunished. In fact Trayvon Martin was killed becuase of violence in hood and black mens association with it. As a young black man , he has to deal violence in the hood and suffer for it outside of the hood. Also if Trayvon was killed by Donte, there would be no marches nor would Donte be patted on the butt and sent home. Black women are far more likely to survive a bad neighborhood than a black man. Thats changing considering the upsurge of aggressively violent black women attacking black women. All on tape too.

    “So yes feminism is whitewashed, but black women are too busy working on helping black men overcome “oppression,” and they are always sacrificing rather than putting themselves first.”

    How about black women get their sons out of Special Education and graduating from high school since you so busy putting them first. Bull crap.

  • QCastle

    @Anon

    Just be quiet.

  • tisme

    the problem is anytime black women get together to discuss their issues and what ails them people like YOU all but scream how dare black women make themselves their sole focus in life.The more black women become the sole focus in their lives the better their quality of life will be.

    there are LESS black children in America being born because of the decisions that black women make.there will continue to be LESS black children born in America.apparently more black people in America will die today than are born.soon this issue that you are laying at the door steps of black women will be an issue for the non black women and the black men they are having children with.

  • tisme

    furthermore black MEN need to exercise THEIR reproductive choices just like everyone else.such as condoms,vasectomies,having women sign waivers stating that should she become pregnant during the act of sex they won’t be held responsible.

  • Dreaming

    “…Should she become pregnant during the act of sex they won’t be held responsible.” – Um, they already have the no responsibility part covered. They just walk away.

  • apple

    @Anon

    yea i dont relate to your advice. all i said is that as far as being a black female, my race effects me more than my gender, i will never be white to know it feels like to be screwed over because of my gender ONLY. which is why white feminism CAN’T HELP me, but you guys decided to call me a stupid child who don’t know shit because i went off my EXPERIENCE not yours. there will never be a time in my life will i will be disenfranchised because i’m a woman alone, i will be disenfranchised because i’m a BLACK woman. unless i’m in in all black environment then maybe my gender will take over my race, abut if it ever was because of my gender in the outside world, i wouldn’t know it, becasue i will attribute it to my race in conjunction with my gender. and i call myself a female because i am of the female sex. sometimes i call myself a girl, sometimes i call myself a woman,what ever rolls off the tongue is what i use at the time, whats wrong with calling yourself a female, is there some negative connotation that i’m not aware of?, im not calling myself a b*tch,c*nt or slut, i never knew that FEMALE was a bad term, i tried to look it up but nothing comes up on why FEMALE is bad, and i did not grow up in a poor environment, i’m upper middle class, i went to the best schools and i don’t care for hiphop music so please stop acting like you know me based off usage of a word

    @QCastle thanks even though we fight on sometimes thanks for that!
    @Chrissy thanks

  • tisme

    exactly @dreaming.it’s sad that people who don’t do anything for their children complain sooo much.it’s all about the child support enforcement laws.they wouldn’t give their children,even the ones that are proven to be theirs through dna,anything if they could get away with it.

    What’s even sadder is seeing women and men who were married and had children in their marriage the man stayed took care of the kids for the first few years and then walked away.now that’s f*cked up.when someone tells a woman to be responsible and have childre inside of a marriage and dude still leaves his children and no longer cares for them after a break up it’s sad.

  • Anon

    @Q
    Look, I know you’re mad that your father left, and you had no male role model to look up to. And so you blamed your mother for that. And now, by extension, all black women. But you are a grown man now, and perhaps you should really examine why you spend so much time on a black women’s blog. Is it because you have no male friends? Can you not compete with other men, so you come here to whine? I know I’ve mentioned NAMI to you before, but you should really get a handle on your mental health issues.

  • Anon

    Wooooooo chile. Upper middle class? Um, with no capitalizing your i? On “female”-
    “is there some negative connotation that i’m not aware of?,”

    I explained that calling women or girls “female” is dehumanizing and I’ve only heard it used by women (mainly black) to describe themselves who grew up in the hood or in really poor environments where everyone was uneducated. If everyone around you uses “female” instead of woman/girl, you ain’t upper middle class. It’s a basic form of disrespect, which is why you hear rappers and men of no consequence use the word to describe women.

  • Dreaming

    ANON – I actually first started hearing and seeing women be referred to as ‘females’ in a derogatory manner from Black men/boys and then it caught on to Black women/girls using it.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    qcastle You may be indifferent to the dangers black men/boys face when walking down the street because they are more likely to be attacked by someone who looks like them

    And this is where “you” BM must fix this. Why are you so prone to attack one another for the most banal of reasons?

    What are you going to do about it? We had the Million Man March how many years ago? We have had Blk male CEOs of Fanny Mae, AOL Time Wanner, American Express, Merrill Lynch in addition to Earl Graves, Cornell West, The Johnsons blk sports stars and blk academics like Cornell West and Dr. Alvin Poussaint. We now have the first blk president.

    There are an abundance of BM role models for you to model yourselves behind. Fix your problems and stop blaiming BW for everything that goes wrong in your life. After you are 18, you become an adult my friend.

    The pitcher can only throw the ball so many ways, you all must make an effort to hit the ball.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Qcastle typed
    How about black women get their sons out of Special Education and graduating from high school since you so busy putting them first. Bull crap.

    Why should blk women do this alone? You are a man, why can’t you help with your children?

    You got all the government cheese you can eat- housing, WIC, Crystal Stairs, Section 8 , abortion on demand, Affirmative Action, comfy government jobs, etc.

    Oh please, now you’re just being silly.

    I bet you would like to return to the 1950′s huh?

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Anon typed @Q
    Look, I know you’re mad that your father left, and you had no male role model to look up to. And so you blamed your mother for that

    You clowing Q but you know there is some truth in what you typed. I just hope that if he has children, he hasn’t done to them, what his dad did him.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Natalie, you made a very good argument for your point.

    The very concept of focusing our attention on condoms (male symbol of sexual (ir) responsibility) and mens behavior post conception is a blatant attempt to shift focus away from the 20+ options we have available to us to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the lack of responsibility we demonstrated pre-conception.

    Well we focus our attention on condoms because condoms not only protect against unwanted pregnancy but STDs as well. Besides not only do BM have condoms at their disposal but they can also have a vasectomy.

    From what I’ve read, there is a male birth control pill ready to put on the market but drug companies don’t think many men will purchase the product. Why don’t BM get together to push for the male birth control pill be put on the market.

    Honestly if I were a man, you couldn’t pay me to have s8x without a condom and I would bring my own condom too.

  • apple

    @Anon maybe in your world, but not in mines, you seem to know alot of about that word, is that where you grew up?

  • Anon

    @Dreaming
    I KNOW! I only really heard this nonsense in the past… 7 years or so? I don’t correct grown women anymore, but I DO tell young girls to not use it. Who refers to THEmSELVES as an adjective or an animal? This was started by rappers. “Females” weren’t women, they were body parts or jumpoffs. DUH. I don’t even LISTEN to hip-hop or rap and I found that out. And these dumb chicks are running around using that language to describe their own person like it is cute or something. LAWD. It is SUCH an identifier. I had to explain to a few young girls that when THEY use that, and allow boys to use that word around them, it is an INSTANT marker for what kind of behavior they accept. Hood rat RATCHETNESS.

  • Anon

    @Apple
    I mentored and tutored inner city kids through college and for two years after. Let me tell you, I was blown away.

  • Anon

    @Apple
    MINES???? MINES????? I laughed out loud at that one. Uh huh. Upper middle class… … … … =/

  • Furious Styles

    @ Q
    Yeah. And Rodney King was way out of line as well, while you’re at it.

  • apple

    @anon well that’s probably why I don’t kno about this as a bad term because I didn’t grow up around that environment. You know where I learn the term female? In biology class not a rap video

  • entro

    Reading the comments here is depressing. We have so many problems as a people we cannot afford this type of vicious attacking of each others opinions or experiences.
    Consider that the civil rights movement and the feminist movements primary beneficiaries were WHITE women so for those who want to discount race as the main battle we have to face as a people then you are deluding yourselves. I come to this sight to be informed and to see different points of view about the problems within our community but the tone of some of these discussion is like watching the bad girls club or one of the housewives shows. Why cant we do better people?

  • QoNewC

    @apple

    Enjoy the sisterhood throwing you under the bus?

    I tend not to use the term female becase of its (very recent) negative connotations. Nor do I use the term male because I understand it as being an attempt used by some malicious black women to one-up black men. I have my disagreements with black women here but I dont use my language to turn people into chattle. I understand your use was completely benign. Not sure why they decided to run with it.

    Lastly, I understand where you are coming from. There will be discrimination based on race, gender, or both. There are other factors like class that will mitigate against potential discrimination. You are upper middle class and benefit from that status. There are many social statuses that will affect us positively or negatively. Imagine being an immigrant after 9/11? Imagine being an AMerican of Middle Eastern descent? Imagine having a particular last name? Race and gender isnt the be all and end all of life experiences but judgeing by some of the comments here, it does look pretty dam lucrative.

  • QoNewC

    @Chic Noir

    What are you on about?

    You and Lady T have black men bashing tourettes. Seek help.

  • QoNewC

    @Chic Noir

    “How about black women get their sons out of Special Education and graduating from high school since you so busy putting them first. Bull crap.

    Why should blk women do this alone? You are a man, why can’t you help with your children?”

    Because I believe black women alone allow their children to be put in these death tracks at school. If you are a good mother, no one would have to run interference on your decision making. Its a shame that you think anyone should.

    Im not a man nor do I have any children. Just focus on what I am saying.

  • QoNewC

    @Socially

    Very well stated. I dont think anyone has brought up white men in a discussion that is essentially about power in American society.

  • QoNewC

    @tisme

    Do some research. Women innitate divorces not men. So its far likely that a woman will break up her marriage and her home and subsequently compromise the relationship a man has with his child because she is likely to become the custodial parent. Stop the lies about the man who ups and walks away from his family. Its not born out by facts.

  • QoNewC

    @Dreaming

    “Um, they already have the no responsibility part covered. They just walk away.”

    Because men cant have abortions when they dont want to be a parent unlike some people I can think of.

  • QoNewC

    @entro

    This may just be my bias talking but I think black women got off like bandits thanks to the feminist movement. For example, abortion was a feminist issue. Black women stayed retty quiet while white women took the heat socially. Yet black women access those services more than white women. Being black and female or black and male arent your only identities. Some of us are immigrants while being black and female. Some of us are monolingual and dont speak english while being black and female. Some of us are mixed race. Some of us are Muslim, Jewish, Amish, Sikh, Hindu, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, HIV positive, illegal immigrants, etc.

    “… for those who want to discount race as the main battle we have to face as a people then you are deluding yourselves.”

    Its up to the individual to decide what their main battle is. Also, battles do change.

  • CHE

    @qon/eshowoman

    Ill take the bait…because you are always baiting and you are amusing so:

    First off…Black women were apart of most of the social movements in America(abolition,lynching, clubwomen, feminism, communism, anti war, civil rights movement, etc- heck- some people think Black women started the civil rights movement; So blow it out your ass.

    LOL…at least you admit it….you are biased……because you hate Black women and yet you cannot keep away from us so you hate us even more. You can keep on thinking that Black women were/ are sitting on their asses while the world moves around us(something we have never done or had the luxury to do since we have been in this country) and keep on thinking we cause all the problems in the world and the Black community , of course, but some of us are brave, and will always stand up to demons like you.

  • CHE

    You are so *EDUMACATED*….You have practicums and citations and alla that……However, the post is about *Who needs Feminism*, not about the oow birthrate, contraception or reproductive rights for men or your relatives’ suicide(horrible as it was?).

    I have no children and apparently 42% of Black women between the ages of 15-44 dont either. Why is this group(almost half of Black women- who apparently know how to and do use contraception) never spoken about and why are the issues? you raise always dropped on our doorsteps alone?; But I welcome your and people like Qon, etc views….because if you all do prove nothing else with your half truths, untruths, and outright lies, hate and attempts to demonize Black women….You all are all the proof needed that if there is a group of women who need a feminist movement – its Black women.

  • CHE

    That comment was for Natalie.

  • QoNewC

    @Che

    Yes Im very famillar with the narrative of black women being the mules of the world. Speaking of which, a mule is a curious creature. An evolutionary dead end, its only use is for work and a kick in the behind.

  • CHE

    *sigh*

    @qon/eshowoman/kigali/demon

    You are so clever and DEEP!…and like a broken record with your same angry, vitriolic droppings.

    DO NOT ADRESS ME!…and I will go back to LMAO at you and IGNORING you.

  • natalie

    Sister Chic noir,

    I first stumbled across an article regarding the real reason the male birth control pill has not gone into production while overseas. I have posted the interview with Dr. Coutinho from Brazil after having received strong opposition from feminist (including Betty Friedan) at the WHO. Please listen to what he was told by American feminist when he presented what he thought would be received warmly by Western women.

  • natalie

    Teenage Boy: Broken Condom Means ‘I could be screwed for the rest of my life’

    This was found recently in the NewYork Times. This is what our young men are saying..

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/opinion/caring-romantic-american-boys.html?_r=2

    The conversation regarding mens reproductive rights among other issues are gaining traction because many are beginning to realize that feminism will never heal the divide between the genders and is no longer focused on equality (I personally would argue it never was). Many of these conversations are being led by women that are tired of their brothers uncles fathers sons being held to a different societal standard than women. I believe T.D. Jakes said it best when he said “the rise of women does not have to come with the fall of men, the opressed have to avoid becoming the oppressor.”

    And at Che..

    My post spoke to one of the many issues I have with feminism and its role in the rapid deterioration of family and by extension our community. I dont know who needs feminsim but I do know that the black community doesnt

  • natalie

    The majority of the individulas that are truly making the effort to achieve equality oare well aware of the tactics used and the underlying motives of feminist that are focused on keeping us divided. For instance…

    Domestic Violence Against Men
    According to a report by the US Department of Human Services and the US Department of Justice, an estimated 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year.

    MIAMI, FL, January 01, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — According to a report by the US Department of Human Services and the US Department of Justice, an estimated 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year. These assaults can be sexual or physical, and this statistic does not include emotional or verbal abuse.

    http://uspolitics.einnews.com/247pr/255076

    We only want the truth! I have suffered many losses personally and professionally due to the anti-male bias of family courts, false rape accusations, etc. The conversation is changing and the chorus of those that recognize the injustice is growing.

  • entro

    @che I don’t know how you have the energy to debate with someone who is and admittedly so biased it will not change its mind. It has its own circular reasoning it will distort the truth to support a lie. It has a need to feel superior because of its own inferiority . Its disease is documented in psych101. It cannot be explained and there is no rational reason for it because there is no rational explanation for evil

  • sogone

    “female”

    is an attempt to both

    sexualize and dehumanize

    female, in general (scientifically) just means that you produce eggs, versus sperm

    a bxtch and a heifer are both females. do you consider yourself as one of them, too?

    be cautious of your language and how it impacts you and those around you

  • SJ

    You’re right. I do try to stay away from the term “feminist” because I feel it represents the struggles of white women. I prefer BWE advocate or something similar to that… or no term at all. I just enjoy bringing awareness to black women’s issues and encouraging black women to love self and each other.

  • Guest

    @anon

    What Black feminist/pro-woman sites/news/blogs have you found online? I, too, find Jezebel often leaves me confused or queasy.

  • http://www.myspace.com/alishagray.com ZenMamaPolitic

    @ZenMamaPolitic Well Said…And I would like to add… ‘Womanism’ explains the many problems with Feminism that have already been identified by Black Feminists; again ‘Womanists’. We have long been waiting for a re-vamp in understanding the racist/sexist intersections of white Feminism. Including; the fact in understanding that standing up for a ‘no prejudice’ stance against discrimination towards women of any gender identity, is not necessarily the same as promoting a pro ‘lesbian’, ‘transexual’ agenda. I honeslty believe that we need to be PC, but should not be held accountable for all portions of questions with gender identity. This should be separate. Gender identity (although also oppressed) , is not the same as Feminism. This is yet another problem. In other words; being politically correct should not reflect a depiction of forced support. Sometimes this deters future supporters of Feminsim , who may choose to embrace its principles. Also; the misunderstanding that we are all white Feminists, starkly advanced within the notion that our only agenda is to ‘oppose the male dynamic’. These are the older White and Black Patriarchal males; along with their spouses-that feel inadequate primarily. Also; the ones who believe that we should be always competing against White males within the work force, eventhough we have been handicapped with both race and sex. Wrong! Not only are they stuck in ‘second-wave Feminism’, but wrong about the obviously prominent Intersection between women of color and sexism; which creates an entirely new problem. Race normally takes a space ahead of gender; yet women of color are subjugated under both White and Black males.There is a stark difference. So, again..you are correct. Perhaps we should define the avenues and transgressions of the word ‘Feminism’ a little better for the future masses. Great Article.

  • CHE

    Youre right@Entro but I find it amusing. It is miserable and I know it might be wrong but I enjoy its pain.

  • CHE

    Please give it a rest@cluelessBBM..uumm…I meant Natalie

  • D

    How’s that?

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