"Feminism ain't about equality, it's about reprieve." ~ Ani DiFranco
I've had some thoughts brewing in this little head of mine. I'd say I'm listening to too much "down with the patriarchy" music, but there's no such thing as too much. I am a feminist. I don't say that to be proud. I don't say that to be a hero. I say it because it's true. Honestly, I can' imagine anyone not saying that. Feminism should be a movement in everyone. Anyone else is just in the way.
I've been working inside my own head. Turning thoughts over and around. Focusing on single topics to understand each one better and hopefully more fully. The fact is, women are not equal. There's a pause happening. A pause that has been happening for decades. We had first wave feminists who did a lot of good, but missed many great points. They ignored intersectionality and focused so internally that they left out a lot of the female population in their quest for equality. Essentially, they forgot to remember that there are many types of privilege and while being female is definitely a disadvantage in this world, it's not the only disadvantage. These things overlap. They intersect.
As a white woman, I have to understand that my fight is not the same of my dark-skinned comrades. We have many of the same goals, but we have to approach them from different perspectives. I have privileges they don't. Sometimes, I need to shut the fuck up so that they can get a leg up. I have to be willing to let go of those privileges if they hurt other people. Hey men, are you listening here? You have to be willing to give things up so that other people can get there. On the flip side, there are privileges that every person should have. We don't want to let go of those, but we want to extend them and give them to everyone. It's a balancing act. It requires checking yourself. It requires humility. When someone tells you that you're being hurtful, you need to be able to listen and understand. And for god's sake, do not say, "I'm sorry you feel that way." You will be ignored forever (by me) if you utter those ridiculous words.
Now, back to my quote. What is feminism about? It's about a lot of things and there are as many answers to this as there are women in the feminist movement. It means something different to everyone. Sure, there are universal truths. For example, you can't think that women's choices should be limited. You can't believe that women are second-class citizens. You can't believe that all people should have the same opportunities at birth.
Right now, feminism is in a transition. There are a few movements going on and they need to come together in order to grow. My favorite might be the womanist movement. It gets the issue of intersectionality spot on. Most times, I see it in a positive light. There are some factions within the womanist movement that seem to want to stay in opposition to mainstream feminism. I certainly understand why. However, I don't think that leaving a movement that has worked so hard and gained acceptance is the answer to fixing the issues within that movement. I'm pessimistic by nature and I can't see this as a solution. Ideally, I would want to see the womanist movement come into mainstream feminism in leadership positions. I would like to see it taking the lead and pulling the rest of us up to speed.
Speaking of leadership, the more I dig, the more problems are brought to light. There are well-funded, well-known organizations at our helm. NARAL, NOW and several others. These organizations are good. They give us visibility, but they are stagnate. They are being run by second wave feminists that haven't quite mastered intersectionality. They yearn for the spotlight, with good reason, but in doing so, they often concede much to the other side. They soften the message. They make compromises.
There is so much talk going on about tolerance. There are a lot of people that believe that we must, at all costs, be tolerant of opposing views. I can appreciate this to a point. I disagree with it almost fully. There are some opposing positions that are just flat out wrong. A side that spreads misinformation and rhetoric and fear is not something that demands tolerance let alone respect. Can you see where I'm going with this? I'm talking to the men. The ones that want to whine about how feminism is putting them down. Is that an uncomfortable position? The ones who claim that because of feminism, they now have to "do it all". I can only stare at that statement with my jaw on the floor. Welcome to the club. We need a fucking break. Take the wheel for a bit so we can rest.
This fight isn't easy. I had a daughter and I've been slowing increasing my will to fight. I watch legislatures pass bills that put women down. I hear people talk about the "good old days" and reference the 1950s. Have we learned nothing? Those days were not good. Not for women. Please stop whitewashing and sugarcoating history to make it acceptable to teach. When we strip it bare, we get something that is real. We teach our children how bad it was, how bad it still is, and we inspire them to change it. It shouldn't take them thirty or more years to learn all of this as it did me. My daughter should hold these truths to be self-evident. All men are created equal. Women are still not. We are not equal to men . . . yet. We are not even equal to each other. There are many who work to keep it that way. If you divide us into factions, we cannot organize and overcome.