Imaging Feminism

This week I had the most interesting conversation at a college with a young black man.

“I never thought you were a feminist,” he said in surprise after I mentioned I write a fashion and feminist blog.

“Well you have not been around me to really know,” I replied. He continued to express that regardless of that fact, people would usually “know” a feminist just by seeing them.  So what does a feminist look like? After a few minutes of dodging this question, he mumbled a half explanation about how well I dress and I’m “covered up” so “I guess that shows you’re a feminist.” That was the first indication the rest of this conversation was heading in an unusual direction pretty fast.

He continued, “Don’t think I’m against feminism or anything, but I have a general question. Do you think the government is allowing y’all women to have feminism…..”

Allowing us to have feminism??? Meaning, without the government’s permission, there would be no feminism?

Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Through this advocacy, women are able to feel empowered in a manner which allows them to seek out a life that is fair and enjoyable. (As you get to know me, you would notice that my interests lie heavily in the social aspect of this advocacy more than anywhere else.) With this in mind, I looked at the young man in disbelief as he continued to lament that the reason feminism has not been shut down and allowed to thrive in this country is because the government is using the movement as another way to keep down black men.

According to this college educated black man, due to feminism, black women now believe that they are too independent to “submit to the black man,” which is the root of the problem. Feminists do not wish to get married and they are of the strong belief that men are not important in their lives; well, according to him. I was also further informed that the government used white feminists to recruit black feminists who go back to their black homes and undermine their men, causing the men to become frustrated and resulted in the men abusing the women and going to jail. THIS, ladies (and my few gentlemen) is what the government has been plotting all these years to get the black men into jails – feminism!

Male Feminist. Photo: TUMBLR
Male Feminist. Photo: TUMBLR

Granted this appalling and extreme scenario is the opinion of a misinformed, misguided young man, some of these ideas do circulate when it comes to identifying feminists and their motives. This is the result of the variations of feminists that populate the earth. As with any other movement, there are some who are extremists, there are some who just touch the surface, and there are some who are neither here nor there. There are women who are strongly against feminism, and there are men who are feminists. Black feminists fight for different causes than their white counterparts. Younger feminists may have newer issues to attend to than their predecessors.

The divide is immense and can be the cause of such ridiculous misconceptions and misinformation. The correct ideology of feminism should be dispensed and understood even in the simplest form to people everywhere including those who live in the hood – where I later found out the young man is from and gathered a lot of his opinions. Let’s go back to the black race for a minute (because this is where the conversation took root). Many black men seem to be afraid of feminists. Perhaps it’s because they see feminists as loud mouth women who are argumentative and would undermine them at every turn – the self professed strong woman. However, I have observed that this type of behavior comes from the women declaring their independency and walking around screaming they “don’t need no man” to all those who will listen. The problem with that is, we don’t know if these women are actually feminists because there is another misconception that every woman who declares her independence is a feminist. Not true.

As I pointed out to the young man, many of the women who generally declare these sentiments do so as a result of their own personal experiences and not due to feminism: how many of the “don’t need no man” women turn out to be the ones who have had rough relationships with men or grew up observing broken relationships with men, resulting in what I call the “I don’t need no man syndrome”? This is just one example of the type of woman who use the independency umbrella to bring value to herself. However, this woman is not necessarily a feminist.

Common stereotype - Photo: Become Empowered
Common stereotype – Photo: Become Empowered

Personal experience and upbringing plays a large part in how we view the world. I’m a feminist who strongly believe women need men in their lives just as much as men need women. You are foolish to believe as humans one gender can survive without the other.

In addition, feminists are not man hating women who dress in loafers and bland slacks and are bitter because they can’t get or keep a man. They are not all lesbians either. The root of this movement needs to be resurfaced as I believe it is now lost in translation.

Female feminists, we need to get our act together because we are strongly becoming our own worst enemies. The one thing that has been circulating and I would have to agree on is most women – feminists and non feminists alike – have to stop keeping each other down. This treacherous act is our downfall and we will certainly never achieve as much as we would like to because of it. How can you win a war to gain equality when you’re divided as a unit?

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