Why I’m Not A “Feminist”: An Economics Lesson

Happy Labor Day folks! In honor of this holiday, a Federal (meaning it’s observed by all 50 states and territories) holiday that was designated to honor the economic and social contributions of women workers, I want to extend a thank you.

Yes, I have moved the blog topics du jour to include more ‘mundane’ topics and seemingly innocuous interests, but I will always keep it real when it comes to addressing injustice, hypocrisy and apathy.

Our country is undergoing one of the worst periods of unemployment in three decades. Certain ethnic groups and classes have been hit the hardest. We cannot ignore this, particularly when certain politicos and elites are using this to exploit those very same people by making things worse. If people are desperate, they cannot function at their best. They are more easily manipulated.

So, while this may not be a fashion, travel or recipe post in order to get to those things some of us have to be able to live. And live well. Freedom is not to be taken lightly and economic freedom allows for fluid movement and the ability to make better decisions.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with my public declaration about feminism. Well, regular readers won’t be surprised because one of the many shifts in perspective I’ve had in the past three years has to do with my place in the world as a woman…who is also African-American…who wants to live IDEOLOGY-FREE.

This is especially true for organizations, concepts, constructs, notions, religion and even my own internal motivations. I have literally been gutted and reordered every single aspect of my life…and it has been a very challenging process. I am certain that it will bring great reward, otherwise I’d go back to sticking my head in the sand or keeping my tunnel-vision blinders on.

I continue to do this because I don’t want to drift through life. I don’t want to settle. I don’t want to be ‘good enough’. I don’t want to equate “success” by material possessions or outward symbols of achievement alone. I want to be humble and live with integrity. That is NOT perfection! That is striving for MORE than the average life. I already have a big leg up being a citizen in the Western Hemisphere, so I want to create every opportunity I can.

Labor Day is an interesting holiday in that this is the most hostile political, social and economic environment for the “average” worker in the history of this country. There are people who want to send us back to the Stone Ages on their quest to acquire more power, control…and MONEY. I think it’s the catalyst that will destroy this country because historically every Super Power falls.

So what does this have to do with “Feminism”? It’s in quotes just so that you all understand I fully support social and economic freedom for women. I applaud the sacrifices others have made so that I have this freedom to even write a post about it. I have OPTIONS and I do not wish for a return to “the olden days” where women had less movement and other unpleasant things I don’t think I need to mention.

No, what I’m referring to is the political “Feminism” as employed by those who have a personal stake in promoting a radical perspective, one that’s just as anti-woman as some of the usual suspects we think about when discussing less women-centric thought leaders or countries.We need to use our power wisely and in ways that benefit us.

Why do I think some women who declare themselves feminists hate other women? Well..it’s simple: they want to elevate themselves NOT other women and especially NOT women who don’t look like them or they can’t “relate” to.

My post The “F” Word Femininity v. Feminism discussed at length my thoughts on femininity as being inherently MORE woman-beneficial (for long-term use) that each woman can do immediately to improve her station in life than relying on an organization or worse – keyboard activists – who at the end of the day will stab them in the back (or ignore them to their deaths) to get ahead anyway.

I wrote:

Before you think this is going to be a rant against white women and an evaluation of their ongoing racism, I’m going to shift the focus. We have numerous examples to draw from history if we want to continue tripping down memory lane. I also have removed a knee-jerk emotional reaction to this type of behavior as I know much of it stems from taking actions to preserve the dominant positioning they have. Which ironically is from being protected and elevated by the men of their group.

This is where the economic topic comes into play. Women and children are often the hardest hit in less bountiful economic times. The politicians are going to cut and gut everything in the next few years on their way to starting another “war” with some country to take their natural resources (namely oil). Everything is up for grabs!

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you which group of women will be the hardest hit amongst those who will sustain losses because I’ve written about this as well for two years straight. This is why I have a strong negative reaction when those women in more secure positions who are likely to remain so as being the wives and daughters of the men who still dominate society FAIL to make any attempt at protecting other women they know are not, when it won’t cost them anything to do so.

Of course they want to play dumb on purpose when called out on it, because it benefits them to do so. Any conscious-raising from their end means an increase in competition and they want to remain in the favored position even as they pretend to rally against it. I am aware of this and it isn’t my “fight”. It’s much more effective for those women who want to elevate their status in life to CHOOSE A MATE WISELY, to secure an education, to grab opportunities, use common sense and to think expansively – beyond that day with a generational plan in effect.

Do not limit yourself in any way. Think GLOBALLY. You don’t want the biggest house in the neighborhood, so to speak. You want to be the one who has the “secret” stash of resources, goods, services, money, etc that will come in handy in a pinch. An earthquake, tornado, flood or some other freak of nature event can take that house away AND your insurance company can refuse to compensate you for damage. What will you have left?

Women who talk a lot of smack when it comes to supporting “women’s rights” by validating known racio-misogynists because they attack other women are NOT ALLIES! In much the same way I sought to check certain black people (related to black women’s denigration), I have NO problem calling out hypocritical white women and the blogs they run for participating in black woman bashing, be it by hook or by rook.

So, it is with some recent conversations at Feministe. I commented at a post where the author while disagreeing with a black-woman bashing writer still gave him access to an audience of women and supported the downtrodden black male meme while ignoring the history of black-woman bashing by black males to begin with. Remember, Henry Louis Gates has stated black males are MISOGYNISTIC BY NATURE.

If Feministe had an established history of protecting and promoting black women’s interests then one might be able to give them the benefit of the doubt, but “not knowing” about the behavior (that could have been easily researched) is NO EXCUSE. One expects a forum that claims to be FOR women can at the very least lay down some basic qualifications of their contributors. 

To add further insult, this same idiot blogger had the nerve to write a post asking about intersectionality, not giving credit to Kimberle Crenshaw {an African-Amercan legal juggernaut} and appropriating it as something emanating from that site. As if!  Ignoring the OBVIOUS failure of forums like that are called out on their &*^% from time to time and yet again their hetero East Coast middle-class white woman privilege shows. I have linked posts there and have gotten weird trackbacks from white male anti-woman sites but even in their misogyny some of the posters have recognized the “double-burden” of black women so to speak). Ironic huh?

These “feminists” owe African-American women a great debt for being beaten and raped and murdered during the Civil Rights-era. Let’s Not Forget Them. Forums like Feministe wouldn’t exist without THOSE women. They were smart at seizing the opportunities, but also had the freedom to do so because white males continue to PROTECT and SUPPORT them

I have an unpublished draft that I wrote earlier this year about “Liberal Whites” and their racism and how certain go-to “feminist” white women (like Amanda Marcotte) also have engaged in the “all the blacks are men, all the women are white” games. This may not make me a “friend” or better yet, a “puppet” or the “safe” black voice to turn to for the approved messages. (That goes for “black” forums as well). Ask yourself who that benefits. Well, it’s a “game” to them because their positions are secure, but they will sell-out black women (and other women) at the drop of a hat to promote their own agendas.

This is why I continue to be bowled over by the quiet but determined movement of Asian women in particular for sidestepping ALL of this and marrying some of the world’s most successful men (of all races). They secure their positions for generations. I’m certain if some white women were honest, they’d admit how much it threatens them, but then they have black women to step over so it all balances out. This is why it’s important to Break Out Of The Indoctrination Mindset.

I am in full support of a sisterhood, but only as an equal partner at the table. Your loyalty must be proven and there’s an annual review to pass. There is no automatic lumping of disparate groups together just because. I am not a Negro pet begging at the table that you throw moldy crumbs to. I also hold black women accountable for not supporting each other over black male interests as well. That ship has looong sailed, however. We’d be in a much better position if we had taken care of each other FIRST.

I do not expect outsiders to care about “me”. Or even other black women as a collective since they’ve shown they don’t support themselves or each other when it comes to making a clean break from failed ideologies. So, this isn’t about trying to persuade anyone to do anything. Smart people are going to look out for #1. I don’t like the hypocrisy and BS in trying to PRETEND that you are supportive of me when you are in fact A RIVAL, but who’s actually going to come out and SAY that?!

The next step becomes YOU asking yourself why you are supporting entities that DON”T SUPPORT YOU???!!!! 

Just like certain employers who are trying to get over employees by cutting out benefits, lowering wages, “asking people to work for FREE (try-outs, internships that last for MONTHS) and demanding advanced degrees to answer the telephone at a company. There WILL be a reckoning! Obviously, if this doesn’t apply to you then perhaps you needed to be brought up to speed to what’s going on in the streets. 

It is very important for each woman to build her networks and support systems of PROVEN ALLIES. Some people are more likely to look after each other than others. Despite the lack of integrity of others and external challenges we can still live and thrive if we focus on our goals.

24 comments to Why I’m Not A “Feminist”: An Economics Lesson

  • Squarlymade

    I wanted to make sure I left some BWE rhetoric for people to read and comprehend. BWE thought is so new and people have a hard time deciphering things… that are so apparent to us. And, ya know I like to plant as many seeds-even if it’s just throwing them and moving on, to insure that there is as much shade in the future for me, my daughter and other black girls to “rest” in (to use an idiom ‘rest in the shade’ made by Nicole C. Mullen on one of her albums-as a tribute to those who came before her and made it easier).

  • Squarlymade

    This is what I said:
    “WOW these women are in it for themselves!!! Look at how they let this man say that black women are not women! He used this ladies 'blackness' to slay her with it, and then say that she doesn’t deserve to be heard/respected/understood. He hates women, and he (“Matt”) will go after which ever one(s) he can. These white women know this, and so they keep black ladies for these types of feedings-this has always been their trick! They shovel every issue (that) their white men have with them onto black women. Their-fat-[I should have said lazy]condescending-money digging-manipulative ways! Then they say-'get-her' for it! White women are the biggest oppressor I have ever known. Ladylike…nah. Feminist—YEP!”

    Squarlymade part 2

  • Squarlymade

    Yeah, I posted over there after reading…I wasn’t meaning to, but the way they play their ‘lil-o me didn’t know because I’ve been so set-apart’ (cue the “ just a girl” song by nodoubt) bs was pulling-on me, to- TEACH! So this is what I posted (if it gets posted). I signed in as “moretea” mocking at how they “play-cute” while slaughtering others in broad daylight. I don’t know if you’ll agree with what I said, but I stand true to it.
    Squarlymade
    part 1

  • GoddessM

    Thank you so much for this post Faith,

    Just with some of the things on yours and Khadija’s website I’ve been able to inform my closest female relatives about the need for things to insure financial security with great results. I’ve also noticed the discontentment of nearly all non-black women when even the thought of a black woman with a non/b man comes to mind. I have a family member who is part asian and very small in stature so she has to dress and put on make up to look her age. I myself am very tall, so she would dress down and put on pig tails or some other juvenile look and we’d go to stores and talk about her father in whatever city we could think of(Manilla, Hong Kong, etc.) just to see the looks they’d give us. I’m just glad looks can’t kill. It doesn’t matter what you look like either. I’m 50 lbs down from largest weight but still the same amount from my goal and I wasn’t even dressed up on those times. The need for black female autonomy is highly apparent. Every woman must be her own island and when she gets herself together she should find herself some more islands to associate with. Like a Hawaii of empowerment if that makes sense.

    • Faith

      Well, I don't know how isolating oneself is helpful towards implementing an abundant life strategy, but forming [good] alliances is a necessary strategy.

  • APA

    Your post definitely explains why I don't like to call myself a feminist. White women have the best of both worlds. They get to play oppressed minorities because their women, but they also have privilege because they're white, and they play role that will get them what they want. I used to work as a research assistant for a white, female professor, who would always complain that she was discriminated against because she was a woman working in a male-dominated field. If the a male professor didn't socialize with her, it was because she was a woman, and they didn't respect her. She never took the time reflect and find out whether the problem was her personality and not her gender as minorities are often encouraged to do when they complain about discrimination. However, she would always make side remarks (in front of me) about ethnic minorities receiving special consideration for internships, grants, etc. even though she was okay with (white) women being considered for the same preferential treatment she thought was unfair. I remember a time she got annoyed and went on a rant because a white, female lab partner couldn't apply for same internship that I did because she wasn't considered a minority. In her mind, it wasn't fair that a white women wasn't considered a minority like African-Americans or Hispanics. This was the sisterhood that a so-called feminist showed me.

    I respected her struggle, but she couldn't respect mine or even recognize that I had issues as a black woman. I see this with a lot of non-women (and men). They want black women to ignore/accept their diminished status and reject anything that might help elevate them even though they are exploiting an unfair system to benefit themselves, which is why you get backlash when you try to make step forward in your love life or career especially if it means you might be doing better than them.

    • Faith

      I concur but the lesson that AA BW refuse to get is how they need to be looking out for #1 and reciprocating support. We have ALL the resources we need, but don't utilize them. The biggest irony is how BW and WW (and to a lesser extent other groups {Asian, Latina}) DO SHARE ONE MAJOR COMMONALITY: they put black males on pedestals w/o merit at the expense of (other) black women. Whether it's hyper-male sexuality or promoting their victim-hood, it's pretty much ALL they focus on. I hope these conversations will encourage women to check their motivations AND discard agendas. I'm not expecting a sweeping change of course. This is just food for thought.

  • great post faith,

    ww feminists are not trying to overhaul the system (which would guarante bw full rights and full acess as everyone else), instead they want to 'tinker' with and 'tweek' the system in such that it yields benefits that are currently denied them as ww. I reiterate that nothing but a full system overhaul can give bw the same rights and benefits that ww have and until that time, bw should act smart and get themselves the life and concessions they need by playing the game with sense and thought.

    as long as a certain group has somewhat an advantage over another group, they tend not to be that truly committed to changing the overall system and paradigm that hurts them both.

    • Faith

      The only system overhaul I can think of is one where backs dominate AND elevate black women. Which depends on patriarchy -- not white middle class women to achieve. Besides, that will never happen because black males are not going to rise to the challenge and black women should have long moved on.

  • Shermy

    If it's ok Faith, I'd like to also suggest this post as well:
    http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/to-

    • Faith

      Thanks for the tip. I quickly skimmed the site and it looks interesting.

      • Shermy

        It is, though I can't quite decide how I feel about it. She makes tons of sense, but sometimes I find it challenging. Yet I read on!

        • Faith

          A woman who has earned a significant amount of money as an escort and got out of the business can certainly offer a few useful tips, but I take everything with a grain of salt.

    • APA

      The article is okay, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with some of the other stuff on her site. In some of her posts, she pushes the idea that the child and human trafficking is an overly exaggerated issue and a myth and is just being used by lawmakers as an excuse not to legalize prostitution. I get that she worked as an escort and loved it, but she doesn't have to downplay or dismiss the exploitation of others to make her point. She also claims that there is a "sex offender hysteria" in America and even plays apologist for some accused sexual offenders (http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/old-men-and-young-women/).

      Also, most of her commenters are males who frequent escorts and prostitutes, and most of the posts are geared toward this demographic. The article that you linked was the only article that I felt was remotely empowering for women. Most of her site is dedicated to reminiscing about her time as an escort, providing an insider view to the clients of sex workers, and discrediting negative statistics on child and human trafficking.

      • Faith

        Which is why I didn't endorse the site. Agreeing with one post doesn't make me an advocate to an ideology. There's some useful information there all the same, esp her post on why most of her peers decline AA black males as clients. She details their DBR behavior rather thoroughly.

        • APA

          I wasn't accusing you of endorsing her site. Just stating why I don't like it.

          • Faith

            My response was stated to remind you and the rest of the reading audience that nuance, discernment and thinking critically and strategically is a must. There are no permanent friends {be it an ideology, cause, political party, blog host or personal philosophy} ONLY permanent interests. I also wasn't polling folks for their opinions about the content at other forums. I allowed one link from another reader because it added value to the conversation. That is all. I don't have the time to investigate/read the archives of other forums these days, but what I skimmed seemed innocuous enough. Anyone who disagrees with someone else's content should take that up directly with the forum host. Not here. Thank you.

  • Faith

    I'm going to let you all talk amongst yourselves. This is a matter of respect. If we don't put ourselves first, we'll never be taken seriously. I don't have anything else to add, but this was a reminder to every woman to set standards and ask if things are helping her move up in the world or not, and if she's doing things that undermine her growth? This is about retooling feminism and femininity NOT trashing either one.

  • Karen

    Dear Faith,

    Very astute and appropriate. I hope that many take heed of your words of wisdom and action. "Who benefits" should always be the first thing to ask in any interaction with others.

    The best defense is a good offense and that is by living well. I have never underestimated the "real Agenda" of many so-called feminists who by action do everything they can to eliminate any potential competition. It is actually a very smart tactic.

    I on the other hand recognize it for what it is and never let it impede my forward progress. I hope others will do the same. To reference the Asian woman as an example, no marching or banner waving -->be feminine and marry well. In a patriarchal world, it is the best (and most time proven) method to advance in life.

  • Formavitae

    Anyway, I TOTALLY AGREE with what you've written above. I long ago thought about how "nice" it was for white women to be able to openly rail against their men, because they can fall back on a trust fund from daddy, alimony, child support, or a providing husband who "oppresses" them by giving them security without expecting them to work. Black women don't have those luxuries to fall back on. It's easy to bite the hand that feeds you, when you know it will continue to provide you nourishment regardless.

    I agree that black women need to focus on cultivating FEMININITY rather than fierce independence. Our "independent" mindsets have been cultivated enough, out of necessity. We now need to learn how to sit back, relax, and allow men to be our providers and protectors--AS THEY SHOULD BE. We need to allow our vulnerability and softness to be visible and accessible (within a safe context, of course). I think there is hardly a social movement (aside from blogs such as yours) that truly champions black women/girls and their needs. We are considered the "expendable" component of society. And, as such, we need to realize that even in our "friendships", we may be extended "the short end of the stick". Personally, I'm tired of movements, labels, and politics. All of these things wear me out and seem to require a major investment of my resources while I receive minimal, if any, gains in exchange. As Khadija said, and you have mentioned, "Qui bono?" I've decided that I'm dropping all of the political and classification system baggage, because it tires me out and gives me a headache. I don't feel like arguing. I want to be a pleasant, peaceable, highly cultured, and successful woman, wife, and mother. Picking up the battleax will promote just the opposite. (And, why should I disadvantage myself for the causes of others who don't truly care for me?)

    Yes, my views are highly influenced by (what I understand to be) traditional, Judeo-Christian values. But…so what? I like them. YES, I think the husband should be the head of the household. (He must be QUALIFIED. And, that doesn't give him the right to be a tyrant. Vetting is CRUCIAL, for this type of marital/family arrangement.) YES, I think men should be the primary breadwinners and protectors of the family. YES, I think children should be obedient to their parents. (NO, I don't advocate child abuse to secure such obedience.) YES, I believe in one man/one woman marriages/commitments. YES, I believe in fidelity. I ALSO believe that the man should "love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave his life for her". (Men don't get off easy in Christianity. They just ignore the parts they don't want to comply with. Lol!)

    In sum, I AM NOT A FEMINIST EITHER. I look forward to being a loving, sensitive, and supportive wife to my husband. And, I am HAPPY to allow him to shine as the representative of our family (after he has PROVEN HIMSELF, of course). I want to build a loving and lovely home, while maintaining my own resource independence via career development. All of this is for my family and posterity. But, I can always utilize it for my own protection and the protection of my children, should the need ever arise.

    Onward and Upward…

    • stellas

      Well said. I am a real fan of femininity as prescribed by the bible. Asian women put their plan into motion years before and today they reap the benefits. I can't figure out whether it was deliberate, or, just many following the brave actions of a few. I wish there was a way for black women to have these discussions in a more private setting. Anyway, it's time to pull out the old books on femininity and apply the principles that could work in our context.

      • Faith

        I do think there are women privately discussing such matters of importance. I think there are women being taught tools that will empower them. I also believe people may be skimming and reading to pick up information. Those women who want to make changes that benefit them will.

  • Formavitae

    Tell it, girl!

    Preach!

    :) Lol!

    I was JUST making a related comment at another blog earlier today. I will repost it here:

    "While I believe STRONGLY in the equal value of men and women, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not a “feminist”. I used to say I was “slightly feminist” or “somewhat feminist with traditional values”. However, I’m just not saying any of that anymore. Men and women are distinctly different. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. We are designed differently. We have different roles. That doesn’t make one more or less valuable than the other. The older I get, the more I move away from labels, because the definitions can be too nuanced and complicated. Overall, it just gives me a headache, and I don’t need that.

    Having said that, I DO believe that white/non-black women are threatened by the idea of their men being involved with black women. I’ve experienced the negative response and discouragement firsthand. Even as they, their sisters, etc. pursue relationships/marriages with black men, they have problems with black women pursuing relationships with men from their (or other non-black) populations. I’ve even seen an Asian girl get highly upset and disturbed while I was out with a white guy (as though she is white…give me a break).

    Black women have few friends and allies. That’s reality. The older I get, the less I talk to other people. Sometimes, it seems people just like to get you engaged in conversation just to challenge your rights to your own opinions and/or to weaken your resolve. Or, they want to learn how you think/what you know, so that they can sabotage you. I’ve always been open and friendly. But, based on my experiences, and after reading commentary online (such as this post), I’m making the decision to stop discussing/explaining who I am/what I do. I’ve decided that if someone asks me if I date non-black men, I will say, “Yes, I do date (white/non-black/enter category) men. But, I don’t discuss my personal relationship/dating choices. I just make them.” [An aside: I've decided I will directly state what group of men I date, if asked, so that if any of those men are in proximity, they will know I am open to dating them. Sometimes, saying I am open to dating "others" can be too ambiguous. I want the right men to know that I am receptive to them.] Part of my beauty is my great, friendly, and pleasant personality. I cannot afford to allow myself to become flustered and act/respond in a manner that tarnishes my image and makes me undesirable. You never know, a person may just be trying to get “a rise” out of you, just so others will lump you into the category of people to avoid. So, I think it is best to keep things “short, sweet, and simple”, to maximize one’s own positioning.

    But, yeah. No one is more hated and viewed as undeserving than the black woman. But, instead of feeling discouraged, we should utilize this intelligence to formulate our winning strategy."
    ————————————————————-
    (to be cont)