Did y’all follow the #HowToSpotAFeminist hashtag this week? No? That’s okay, you didn’t miss much. What started as conversation for
white misogynists was quickly co-opted by white feminists.
The misogynist MRA cohort (of which white women were many) lashed out at feminism for being an annoying declaration puppeteered by upper-middle class
white women who scream oppression while clutching their overpriced college degrees and frappuchinos. Feminists — who were predominately white — responded with equally witty quips.
#HowToSpotAFeminist: Look for the kind, opened minded individual who sees the importance of gender equality… aren’t they just the worst?
— JamesChats (@JamesChatsTV) May 6, 2015
And all the while, I stood on the ignored periphery feeling even more grateful that I refuse to call myself a feminist without placing “Black” right up front.
I don’t speak for all Black women.
Again, for the folks in the nosebleed seats: I DON’T SPEAK FOR ALL BLACK WOMEN.
But I know I’m not alone in my frustration of how
white mainstream feminist dialogue continues to ignore the racial nuances of gender rights.
And why should it? Viewing cis and trans* Black, indigenous, Latina, Asian, and other women of color as full humans deserving equitable justice after years of structural, intentional, and violent racist patriarchy, is a direct condemnation of global capitalist white supremacy.
Which is why I was over #HowToSpotAFeminist before it even began. Sentiments like “Feminists believe in gender equality!” doesn’t speak to why “feminism” is the significant element of my pro-Black politic in the ways it currently is.
“Gender equality” does not wholly confront centuries of debasement that my Black female ancestors face. To view more women working in the corporate sector, going to university, and having access to birth control and reproductive care — though laudable signs of progress — as paramount feminist victories leaves generations of Black women and women of color, whose experiences are drenched in painful complications, out of the mainstream landscape.
More white women working in patriarchal corporate environments might be a solid step for “gender equality” but is a huge impediment to gender equity in which power dynamics between white and Black women are further tilted and skewed.
More white women going to university is “gender equality” thanks to structural manipulation of affirmative action programs that ultimately co-opt Black youth to propel white female academic ascension.
Comprehensive reproductive rights are the result of medical apartheid — in which Black bodies (mostly women) were used in gruesome and unethical experiments because our bodies were considered disposal property. And still, reproductive health care between Black and white women is nowhere near “equal,” with widespread health disparities in STD and HIV/AIDS rates, infant mortality, and overall access to quality health needs.
But gender equality.
This is how you #SpotABlackFeminist. It’s not enough to profess gender equality without addressing gender equity. And I couldn’t allow myself to — yet again — see “feminists” and misogynistic assholes joust over a politic neither group profoundly understands.
Suggested Reading: “My Feminism is Black, Intersectional, and Womanist – And I Refuse to be Left Out of the Movement.” Jenika McCrayer. Everyday Feminism.