Friday, June 27, 2008

Where are the "feminists" now?

When it comes to defending Michelle Obama, where have they all gone?
Rikyah at Jack and Jill politics and in a Mary Curtis in Washington Post, are asking that very question:
In her piece called ' The Loud Silence of Feminists', Curtis opens with:
Michelle Obama has become an issue in the presidential campaign even though she isn't running for anything. An educated, successful lawyer, devoted wife and caring mother has been labeled "angry" and unpatriotic and snidely referred to as Barack Obama's "baby mama."

Democrats, Republicans, independents, everyone should be offended.

And this black woman is wondering: Where are Obama's feminist defenders?
One has to wonder, as Michelle Obama is being labeled unpatriotic, bitter, mean, angry. Where are those feminists who saw sexism lurking around every corner with Hillary Clinton?


Curtis wrote:
The campaign against Michelle Obama -- who went on "The View" this week to prove her everywoman bona fides -- has not caused a rift between black and white women so much as it has exposed it.

I've long been frustrated, as a black woman and a feminist, with our national conversation. I didn't hear the cause speaking up for women of color or for women who have always worked in blue-collar or service jobs. Choice was not their issue.

The woman who employed my educated mother to clean her house never quite saw her as a sister in the struggle for equality.
And there in lies the problem. The feminist movement has accomplished a lot, and has plenty to be proud of, and I don't want to paint with a broad brush. Under that banner of achieving equal treatment, pay and defending women's rights I am most certainly a feminist in that camp.

However, things that have been done under the feminist name have not been less than kosher. My first introduction to this was a lecture describing the imperialistic nature of "lets save these poor foreign women campaigns" that are much more degrading and insulting than they are helpful in any way. The intentions of some of the people behind these campaigns might be good, but the impression it leaves with the people they are trying to "help" doesn't exactly exude sisterhood as much as it breeds contempt. Telling people that their cultures are backwards and behind the times is greeted with same enthusiasm that forms of imperialism receive, and the tensions just grow from there.

Well, the other major fault line throughout sections of the feminist movement is race, and rikyah from Jack and Jill politics adds her 2 cents:
Well, it's no secret that I'm not a fan of feminism. I don't believe that it had anything to do with Black women's lives. I believe we already had our own brand of feminism, because Black women have always worked. Our ancestors - mothers, aunts, grandmothers, elders in the church- have been balancing work, relationships and marriage, well, since forever. We failed to uphold the lessons that they tried to teach us, throwing it away for something that NEVER had our families in mind. I can't be a Black feminist if I'm being separate from the Black men in my life. Just doesn't work for me. That's part of the reason why there was no real 'conflict' for me when it came to Obama vs. Clinton. Am I Black or Woman? I'm both, but I've been in this country long enough to know:
1. Being Black is the true designation of my life
2. Being separated from the men in the community has not done us any good
3. 'Sisterhood' is a one way street; I'm a ' Sister', when Mainstream Feminism wants something from me. When they're done, then I'm kicked to the curb. I understood long ago that Miss Anne wasn't studdin' about my Black behind, and I don't think I'm alone in that realization.

I said before that I wasn't going to hold my breath waiting for Mainstream Feminists to defend Michelle Obama. This was a job that those of us who cared would have to take on our shoulders.

Their silence has been quite instructive....don't you think?
Yep, and like she said... I'm not holding my breath waiting on Geraldine Ferraro's strongly worded condemnation.

1 comment:

  1. That's a really fantastic point. I'm usually wary of "we have it worse off than you" arguments (eg, why whine about FISA when Zimbabwe held a one-candidate election today because the other candidate had resigned in fear of his life?), but this is a pretty specific, causal point. And while I don't want to characterize "feminists," either – damn, the movement looks white right now, both in skin color and ideology. Michelle Obama should not have to put up with this bullshit, and the near-lack of outcry is downright shocking.