This is what MY feminism looks like
Peering into the eye of someone I have lost all patience for, I try my best to look engaged while she talks, though I have already found my distain for her logic -not her- and let the ideology of suburbia wash over me. In a meeting, everyone was asked to write their name on a sticker, along with the career choice of a six year old ‘you’. Many were similar, and this was unfortunate. I was an ‘Artist’ in a sea of aspiring ‘Barbie’s.
When I was a little girl, I fantasied about being Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I wore her gold evening gown for my fifth Halloween and didn’t take it off until I was eight. She loved reading and had a endless imagination, and to think..that deviant Gaston would’ve crushed her world by making her bore his children and cook ALL DAY LONG! Granted, being a literal prisoner of your future prince charming is just as awful, but critical thinking came later. I found Gaston to be evil, not just the ‘bad guy’. That’s when I knew I was a little different.
I…. am a feminist. And before you roll your eyes to the point of permanent ocular muscle damage, think about WHY you eye roll. There is nothing really different about me. I groom like the average woman, I like pink and I LOVE clothes. But I’m not oblivious. And I’ve had privilege but I know what real privilege looks like.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be three things: a doctor, an artist and a fireman. I didn’t know, however, that social norms would sway me to thrive in ONE of those fields. Guess which one. When I was learning about self worth and consideration in Brownies, my cousins were being true explorers, building fires and studying nature in Boy Scouts.
Which brings me to my next point and a big misconception: I do not hate/envy men. I was constantly boy crazy a full decade before I hit puberty. I always wanted to join boys during recess but many times their social norms where stronger than my budding tendencies for equality.
These things helped me become a feminist; none of them ‘in spite of’. Though none of them more than what I’ve been counted as just as much as a woman: A black woman. Put these two together, and it’s as if you’ve disappeared out of thin air for over 400 years. I was never given a chance to be Barbie, just her dark friend no one ever buys and forgets her name. Being a feminist can be a dirty word to a lot of people, and it is for me some days when white feminists blatantly disregard their sisters of color, just as their male counterparts do. I can’t always be a part of a way of thinking if I’m not thought about, it just doesn’t work.
Once, on a Sex And The City afternoon binge, I asked my fiance to stop sneering at the television. “It has nothing to do with you”, I said, to which he scoffed “It has nothing to do with you either!” As awful as it was to hear, my favorite faux feminist guilty pleasure did not represent me on even the most shallow of characteristics.
One word I will never use in my vocabulary is ‘plight’. Another phrase I’m none to crazy about is ‘The Angry Black Woman”, which I know, astutely, how to balance. Most of us realize that it’s always hanging over our heads.
Words I love? ‘Aware’ ‘Ability’ and ‘Knowledge”.
It’s strange, I walk around waiting for others to realize my beauty, strength and intelligence, and that it’s been passed down from ancestor to ancestor; my complexion is a badge of honor to me and I embrace it, after too many years of being confused. MY take on feminism is to make that be known when my so called community doesn’t know how.
Look forward to seeing more from Vanessa in the near future. I’m sure she’ll become a regular here @ cos. Until then, feel free to check out her site, “The Bedford”, here.
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