We all should be feminists; I hope you agree. But what that means precisely has been a point of contention among thinking people. “That’s a good thing,” I’ve been trying to tell myself about the debate. Conflict among people seeking power is inevitable and I think we can see it as a sign of progress. But as a newish mother who works to empower her daughter and set a strong example while simultaneously (by choice) pausing a career to be her primary caretaker (of which I am grateful to be able) it’s also stressing/bumming me out to witness conflict among different ideologies of feminism. It’s a game I can’t win. I’m guessing many of you have found yourselves wondering the origins of your life choices, as I do with everything. “Do I really want to spend this time on my makeup or am I making myself acceptable to the world? If it’s the later, shouldn’t I resist that?” And so on with a hundred other things…
In stone: Feminism must be intersectional, and the more uplifting to disenfranchised people the closer to truth we are. We can’t be good feminists if we do not call attention to the great many atrocities unique to Black women and demand a change. I’m still learning what this really looks like in practice, but it at least begins with acknowledgement. If you haven’t yet, please take fifteen minutes to check out this amazing TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw to better grasp The Urgency of Intersectionality.
Beyond this, which seems self-evident, I believe the fewer distinctions the better. I hope you know I don’t mean to stop talking, stop questioning, stop calling people’s bullshit out, stop examining ourselves. That’s the good work that must persist. I mean stop with the judging other women doing their best to be good feminists, because we’re all in different places with our lives and understanding, and shaming is not helpful. Emma Watson’s comments on Beyoncé’s feminism (no hyperlink because I won’t waste your nor my time on this smut) tripped me up. I appreciate Emma Watson’s presence and I am a long-buzzing member of the Beyhive. I don’t wanna see this mess.
You know what I’m going to say and can probably skip this paragraph: We’ve been so creative with the ways we tear women down. We’ve criticized being too fat, too thin, too sexual, too prudish, too cold, too emotional, too ditzy, too intellectual, too basic… Can we quickly acknowledge the absurd horror of the slim thick craze? Now I have to nearly die of an eating disorder and maintain round, dimpleless T&A to boot? The day I hear the title “silver fox” used on a woman I will do a backflip. If I’m 90 I’ll get help with this. If it’s about me I’ll get help with two backflips. According the the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists the rates of labiaplasty (in general a cosmetic cutting/shortening of the labia minora) for girls under 18 doubled between 2014 and 2015 and interest in the procedure continues to grow. A microscopic focus on every godforsaken aspect of the female appearance just refuses to die, to say nothing of the real, important work that women could be doing if they might be clear-minded for a spell and taken seriously as equals in the world, and the real, important work that gets done despite the odds that is passed over. As strongly as I believe we are moving in a better direction there is clearly something pervasive and ill about the way we teach girls and women to see themselves. I haven’t the ability to write about it all and you don’t need to hear it. What I’m asking is: How can we break the chains of criticism while judging and criticizing strong, trying women as not enough?
We must uplift and hold precious what has been long demented and gaslighted and diminished and beaten. I want to share stories and see understanding in the eyes of my peers–not judgment. I want to meet women where they are in their vision of their place in the world, and encourage the ascension. We need to talk with open hearts for the purpose of learning and lifting. We can only do this when the necessary armor is off and our guards are down. We need to uphold new heroes. They are among us.
When I read the Rumi quote (top) I almost fell out of my chair. I had to read it out loud to make it real. It calls to attention the fabrication of women as support and not lead, as a rib, and says something so obviously simple yet so historically uncelebrated. We are creative not created. That’s some 800-year-old truth. And in the spirit of creation I hope that we find a way to give birth to a new future of female life that celebrates the great glory that is every woman, and stops criticizing her every move. Let us move on this spectrum freely and without fear of one another.