Here’s Why We Should Stand Together In The Feminism Movement Instead Of Fleeing From It
Dear women nationwide,
The “F-word” and its effect on society is staggering. We live in a society where for the attention of patriarchal men, some women abandon or vehemently berate other women who claim to be feminists. We often shun even the more positive aspects of feminism, hoping that our adamant denouncements will keep us from being associated with those ‘bad seeds.’ Some of us trade our opportunities to champion one of the most oppressed groups on the planet for the prospect of a date.
To some men, we may win points for going along with the patriarchal program, but at the end of the day, is it worth it to turn our backs on or even mock and attack those who are tackling the very specific issues that affect us, our mothers, our sisters and our daughters?
I have found myself straddling the fence of feminism. I haven’t been a fan of everything happening within the movement, but I believe in the basis of its existence. I found myself at odds fairly often with male friends who just couldn’t understand how unequivocally ignorant, patriarchal and categorically untrue it is to tell a woman that her attire is the reason for her rape, and I have been called bitter when simply speaking in favor of women who choose to live for their own happiness and are not constantly vying for the attention of men. I knew two years ago when I decided to learn about and become part of the feminist movement, that I would be met with the same side eyes and eye rolls that I once gave to most talk of feminism before I was educated about the topic. I knew that I would have a lot of explaining to do, seeing as ‘feminist’ has such a wide spectrum of meanings in 2014. I knew that there would be men who would dismiss my concerns about rape and mindless subscription to gender roles and my issues with the word ‘submissive.’ I could prepare myself for those things, even if only slightly as I picked up the feminist/womanist banner. What I had no way of preparing for was the vehement and disappointing slap in the face I received from many women who, day after day, deal with oppression because of their gender – just like the rest of us. I had no way of preparing for women slandering other women in an attempt to seem more pleasing to men – the dominant party in this case.
Make no mistake, there is room to disagree. I disagree often with the approaches and practices of some feminists. What I don’t do is try to remove myself from the ‘F-word’ or bash those with whom I disagree.
Just as ‘proximity to whiteness’ is a poor lens through which to view the trajectory of people of color, so is ‘proximity to patriarchy’ for women. These two ways of thinking do more to divide and contribute to misunderstanding among us than they do to help us find common ground and progression. There is room to have our individual views of relationships, gender roles, marriage and more without tearing down one another. As women, we do not have to conform when it comes to our views to gain the ‘respect’ and attention of men. Why should we settle for dismissing our rights?
There is a marked difference between disagreeing with a point-of-view and pretending to disagree with said point-of-view for the attention of a third party. There is honor in disagreeing but choosing to engage in progressive discussion. Women could stand to learn this lesson well. There is nothing to be gained by vying for the attention of men who may or may not even want us once we’ve bloodied one another.
There is a deep need for us to look at ourselves, and the way we interact with one another. Are we kind? Do we engage to understand or do we simply close our ears and wait our turn to devour one another in argument?
We are not inherently catty and conniving. Many of us have succumbed to that behavior because of societal pressures surrounding relationships. The greatest thing we can do is to unite and to engage in dialogue with other women with whom we may not readily agree and attempt to learn from one another; to understand that to wholly love oneself as well as the fullness of womanhood and to believe in the fair treatment of our sex is not profane, nor should it be forbidden. It should be taught, discussed, embraced and endorsed. Let us be moved by what is going to uplift us as women. The men worth your attention will follow suit.
Follow La on Twitter: @ashleylatruly