I identify as a feminist. But as a feminist, I can also acknowledge that feminism has a sordid history with black women.
My feminism is black, intersectional and womanist.
Womanism, often viewed as a shade of feminism, focusing more on the interaction of race and gender within the lives of women of color and other marginalized women.
Feminism, especially mainstream feminism, is largely a white space that only recently aimed to include and explore the experiences of women of color and trans women, though the later is still largely in progress. Too often trans women are excluded from discussions of the issues which feminism aims to address, a fact which I didn’t even know until I read Julia Serano’s Excluded late last year.
Although I personally love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists,” I can also acknowledge that even as a feminist and as a writer she sometimes uses language that excludes some trans- and nonbinary identities. I don’t think most modern day intersectional feminists even realize when their rhetoric excludes the lives, experiences and voices of trans- and nonbinary women as evidenced during the Women’s March. Many protesters donned hats meant to resemble ovaries and signs centered around “typical” biological components classifying with with ovaries and vaginas as the “real” women, with is highly problematic.
I was enamored with the idea of feminism and womanism before I even knew what the words meant.
I saw womanism acted out like a play, in the strength and compassion of my grandmother, in the freedom and stubborn will of my mother, and in the deference my grandfather showed to all the women in his life.
Feminism is for everyone.
And it’s more than the stereotypes and the bullshit.
It’s more than tropes of angry, unmarried women,
Than the idea of “bra-burnings,” shaved heads and unshaved armpits,
It’s more than 2am tumblr notes
And gifsets and memes
It’s a movement
Toward something better,
Towards a world where we can all stand in our difference and not cower in fear
Where we can see each other for the lives we’ve lived and find value in all of those experiences.
Feminism is a process,
Feminism, womanism, and all of its intersectional offshoots are always evolving. With each new wave and continuation, feminism has become more inclusive and aimed to solidify more rights and acceptance for women of all lived experiences.