Thursday, November 20, 2014

Black Feminists Hate Men

" Guilt is not a response to anger, it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the communication of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness" Audre Lorde 

As a black feminist, there is this notion that I 1) hate men and 2) blame men for everything that is “ wrong” in my life.

To set the record straight, I think it is important to note that I am human. I can experience both joy and pain simultaneously. I can both be happy and discontent. I can constructively critique systematic, institutionalized barriers that impact my livelihood as a black women while claiming my joy as a black women law student. These things are not mutually exclusive.

Before I had the language “black feminist”, I was still me. The academia and shared experiences of so many black woman has only helped build community and ensure me that I have not been crazy all these years. This language has also helped me grow as a person and into a young woman who is unapologetically herself.

Back to the matter.

I find that the term “ blame” is used as a silencing tactic to absolve men of responsibilities. I feel like it is a cop out. To believe that so many women enjoy being victims. To believe that being oppressed or experiencing struggle is somehow a want or a blessing speaks more to you than it does feminism.

I do not hate men nor do I blame men for everything that is wrong in my life. I happen to have a very good relationship with men in my life and if you took a journey through my blog you would find my appreciation for men and love.

What I do hate is misogyny. I hate sexism. I hate patriarchy. I hate white supremacy. I hate classism. I hate ageism. I detest them. I abhor them.

I am not here to place blame.  I am not here to make you feel guilty. No. 

I want everyone to take accountability and responsibility for the systems that benefit some and harm others.

I have a deep resentment for men who know better but don’t do better. I have a deep resentment for people who understand systems of oppression but choose to ignore it or only discuss it when it benefits self. No one is perfect. Yes. But I value integrity. I value honesty. 

I am angry. I am angry at the fact that we live in a society where people excuse Bill Cosby and Ray Rice's behavior. I am angry that I am constantly battling in my head what is and what is not acceptable as a black women. I am constantly at war with what I have learned and what I am unlearning. I am angry at the fact that I have to continuously explain to people why having the ability to make choices as a woman, free from judgment based on gender and outside of society’s constraints is necessary to my humanity.

That is what I am angry about. That is what disgusts me. I am not disgusted by you individual men. I am disgusted by the system that places you on a pedestal for none other than our difference in sex organs. No other than the fact that I menstruate and I have the capability of carrying a fetus for 9 months. I think this is both irrational and illogical.

I am disgusted by the fact that both women and men have been socialized to internalize these norms.

I do not hate you men. I don’t blame you individually for my woes. But what I must point out that while it may seem that I speak about “ society” as an idea, I am acknowledging that society is made of individuals.

So while I am not attacking you personally, I am attacking you as a a collective who is part of a greater society and system. I am challenging us all to step outside our comfort zone and view things from the perspective of the vulnerable and the oppressed.

I want myself and others to ask, “ Why?”.  Why. Why. Why.

When something becomes normalized, we internalize it. It is very hard to bring our subconscious thoughts into the conscious. It is very difficult to see how our subconscious thoughts manifest in a way that is harmful. But I do not think it is impossible.

All I ask for is accountability and responsibility. I do not ask for guilt because you think I blame you individually for my woes. That is a cop out.

Do not reduce black feminist to their justified anger. Do not make blanket statements without context. If I am angry it is for a reason. I can be all things at once. I am a whole human being who has the capability to experience different emotions at once. I am a whole human being that can experience both pain and joy. I am a whole human being who can both love men and critique patriarchy.

I am a whole human being that can step outside of my comfort zone and objectively view systems that hurt my sisters and myself.

Feminism is not a slur. My feminism does not harm me nor does it harm you. My feminism does not blind me. My feminism allows me to view the world in ways that I would not have otherwise. My feminism gives me the language to speak on my experiences and connect with other women in ways I have not before. My feminism allows me to create community.

But most of all my feminism allows me to define feminism for myself because as a woman I should have the choice to do so. 

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