“Wait…you’re NOT a feminist?” She stared at me confounded.
“Do you advocate for equality of the sexes?” Of course I do.
“But, you’re NOT a feminist?!” She shrieked, her p**sy hat about to fall off her head from utter shock.
It’s a hard concept to explain (by which I mean, it’s a hard concept for her to understand), so I don’t.
“I guess I’m just not into labels,” I say and walk away.
As a woman of color it’s hard for me to subscribe to the brand of feminism that white women are constantly trying to sell me on. You know, the kind that says, “All Lives Matter” and loses her s**t over some psycho kicking a cat, yet doesn’t bat an eye at the string of violent crimes committed against the systematically disenfranchised. White feminism. The type of feminism that focuses on the plight of white women while seemingly ignoring the issues faced by the less privileged. If that is your kind of feminism, then sorry, I’m not with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a woman, I love being a woman of color, and f**k yeah I want to dismantle the patriarchy. I want women to speak about sexual assault without being questioned about the length of their skirts, I want women to go to work and make as much as their male counterparts, and I want a woman’s reproductive rights to no longer be reduced to a vote by a group of wealthy white men. I want this for every woman, regardless of her race, age, income, sexual identity, and/or religious beliefs.
Yet that is my problem with mainstream feminism: the exclusivity of it. Mainstream feminism advocates for women rights, and that is great, yet it forgets that not every woman’s path toward those rights is the same. Whereas white women have their gender against them, women of color and other marginalized women, have their gender plus their race, or their sexual orientation, or their economic status, or sometimes all of these and more, against them. Feminism is not one size fits all. It should be intersectional and it should not prioritize the issues of one group over the others.
The fact is that feminism occurs across many different spectrums, and thus awards every woman the right to define herself as she chooses to. Is a woman less of a feminist because she wears a hijab? Because she was born a man? Because she makes her boyfriend a sandwich? Mainstream feminism will have you believe that yes, these things may get you a pink slip from the feminist club, but I chose to differ.
My feminism deals with many issues, not just the issues of middle class white women. Poor women, women of color, women of the LGBT community, we all have our struggles and if we feel your particular movement does not represent it, then excuse us as we choose not to join it. Does that make us less of a feminist? Nah, it just makes us more of a humanist.