There’s a photo going around Facebook of a black woman proudly holding up a sign that proclaims she “doesn’t need Feminism because” and then goes on to present a list of reasons that really just point out that she probably really doesn’t understand Feminism. I see this a lot from fellow black women and it’s a problem.
Now, Feminism does have a huge issue with intersectionality across the board. I’ll be using the term White Feminist in this piece to describe the particular brand of Feminism that tends to be exclusionary and is at the root of this particular woman’s objections as well as women like her. With this brand of Feminist thought, the needs and support for women of color as well as trans and disabled peoples are often ignored.
White Feminism is toxic, ablest, trans exclusionary and is basically just white supremacy in a female package. It’s different from radical Feminism which is all of those things but more blatant. The major problem with White Feminism is that it doesn’t realize it’s excluding anyone or that it harbors ideals that are harmful to other groups. It is a one size fits all version of Feminism and that size is upper-middle class White women. It is also unfortunately the version that many people have come to understand as standard but it is not what Feminism is. It’s very easy to see why so many women of color are against it.
Personally I was hoping that this letter would follow the opening statement with a lesson on Womanism but it did not. Instead it was a list of the oft repeated misconceptions of the movement and furthermore was extremely judgmental and hurtful to women who are not able to live the life that she is so proud of.
“I’m enjoying my role as a supportive wife I love that my man is the head of my household. And I value being a Stay at home mom over slaving for a corporation while neglecting my family.”
There’s nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom and focusing on the everyday realities of family life while your husband works but there is something wrong with implying that women who do work are neglecting their family.
This back and forth is actually one of the biggest issues in the representation of Feminism when it comes to black women. We have a history of always having worked outside of the home. As women we benefited from the inroads that Feminism made in the working world for opportunities for better work outside of traditional “women’s work” but the fact that having to go to work isn’t anything new to the black community is often ignored.
This is important because the push to “leave the kitchen” so to speak is a uniquely White woman issue. To women of color who have always had to work, the opposite is true. We want to be able to stay home. That is in and of itself a Feminist act which seems counterintuitive but it’s not.
Feminism is about choice. It’s not about leaving the home or staying in the home. It’s not about having babies or not. Getting abortions or not. It’s about having the choice to do or not to do as you please.
Some women believe that Feminism is at odds with traditional home making roles but it isn’t. The way that some women practice it may make it seem that way but the core of the movement is about choice. The choice to work or stay home. The choice to wear a hijab or not. The choice to have kids or not. Choice and equality.
This woman says that she doesn’t need Feminism but Feminism needs her. We need women in the movement who stay home and take care of their babies and husband. We need women who are fiercely religious. We need women from all walks of life to say, “Yes this is my choice and I support women who make different choices.”
Stay at home moms, you should support women who go to work every day because one day your baby might be one of them. Women who work you should support women who stay home with their children because someone may have done it for you or for someone you care about.
Feminism needs you to get rid of the toxic attitudes and stereotypes that surround it. It needs women to stand together and push back against those voices that create the division.
I’m really happy this woman can stay home and be a homemaker. It’s hard work! I will always support her right to do it. My hope is that she and others like her one day begin to support other women’s rights to live their lives in ways that make them happy as well without the judgement.