Slouching Toward Feminism

27 Sep

I want my girls to be aware, and I want them to feel that they are…enough. I grew up surrounded by women who felt inadequate. I grew up with women who gave away their power and essential parts of themselves to men, women who settled for unworthy men rather than sleeping alone. In the world of my childhood, good men seemed to be in short supply. So a woman’s social and financial independence and self-determination wasn’t something to fight or protest for; it was a given, a cross to bear. And it was lamentable and lonely. I learned this lesson early. So I dated a very good man throughout my four years of college, and I married him a year after graduation.

In college, I did not cultivate deep, lasting friendships with other women students; my social life centered mostly around my boyfriend. I have found in the 20 years since college that as my relationships with women, online and offline, have deepened, so has my embrace and understanding of feminist principles and practices.

But I wouldn’t make an unqualified statement that I subscribe to feminism, because it depends on whose feminism we’re talking about.

Squeezed Between Feminisms

By Guest Contributor Deesha Philyaw

Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was raised to see the world in Black and White.

This manifests itself as an ingrained wariness of White folks, built in for the purposes of self-protection when I was bused from my working-class-on-the-decline neighborhood to the suburbs, beginning in first grade. My handful of White school friends notwithstanding, this was an us-versus-them kind of black and white. No one else–religious minorities, other racial and ethnic minorities, and people in other marginalized groups–was really on my radar in any meaningful way until high school. Even then, I heard friends and relatives use slurs against Asians (the least offensive reference was “Orientals”), “foreigners” (everyone who wasn’t identifiable as Black, White, or Asian), “sissies,” and “bulldaggers.” But I never used those words myself. Even as ignorant as I was, maybe I had a gut feeling about…

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