“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve been thinking a lot about being a woman over the past few weeks. It started with this video. Each morning after watching this, I’ve been contemplating over life and the pursuit of happiness with my morning coffee. I guess you could call it a social justice advocate’s mindfulness exercise. And though I’ve been wanting to comment about the video – to lay out my thoughts in a collective powerful way – I’ve been struck with complete silence.
Silence, not because I don’t know what to say. No, silence because I’m not sure if it’ll make any difference if I say it at all.
Over and over, women are told we’re too young, too old, too involved, too unconnected, too much, too little, too ghetto, too prissy, too “whatever”. Too, what??? Insert any adjective, and voila you’ve created a basic judgmental statement about women. Hurray! Not really… But here’s the clincher. The piece that makes me question the worth of my statements on this topic…
We’re doing it to ourselves!!! Women against women. Women who should understand and empathize over the intersectionality of being a woman. Women who themselves have felt oppressed by the social constructs created by our white patriarchal society. Women who other women would consider a friend on the battlefield. Now, turned foe. What is going on here? Have we given up on the true fight for equality and equity that we’ve resorted to attacking each other?
It disgusts me and it crushes me, in one desecrating blow.
Example A – the silly notion that the oppression of women isn’t connected to the oppression of gay rights, Black rights, Latino rights, student rights, etc. (Ahem, I’m talking about you, Patricia Arquette.) Example B – the lack of solidarity from white feminists around the increase of police brutality. We, women of color, are dying here – and you’re standing there watching. And, most recently, example C – the Twitter feud between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj in regards to the biases within the music industry. The music industry loves to co-opt Black culture: artists like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Iggy Azalea to name a few. However, if a Black artist decides to own their Black culture, no one wants to give credit where credit is due. I’m sorry Taylor, but you and women like you, are the reasons why I don’t know what to say.
It’s bad enough to have oppressors. What’s worse is having oppressors within.
When I was a child, someone told me that I could only have 1/8th a slice of a pie. I asked them why. And they told me because the pie was only big enough for that. Confused by the statement, I countered by asking why the size of the pie couldn’t be made bigger. They responded because this is how we make pie.
The reason why I remembered that story and why I’m telling that story now, is because the problem isn’t about the slice of the pie. The problem is the size of the pie. The same can be said about the inner quarrels within the feminist movement. The problem isn’t about what we have. The problem is about how can we have more. Sometimes I think we forget about that.
We forget that feminism is allowing and supporting women’s freedoms without questioning or judging their experiences. Feminism is not, cannot, and should not be us fighting each other for the one lousy slice of pie they gave us. Again, they gave it to us. They, being our society, years ago gave us one lousy slice of pie. If all of us can stop arguing about that slice and get back to fighting for more – or EVEN MORE RADICAL, fighting to make our own pie – we’d be far more powerful and capable of doing so. Don’t you think?
Because seriously, I don’t want us to keep fighting over the same sliver of social, political, and economic equality. I want more. We want more. We deserve more. Right???
‘Til the next time.
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