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Beyond “I’m not a feminist, but…”

April 12th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Womanist Musings’ Renee Martin has written a fantastic article in the Guardian, in response to Chloe Angyal’s “I’m Not a Feminist, But” article (which channeled this and this). Renee’s piece is about why she consciously identifies as womanist, not feminist, and it really echoes a lot of what WOC in Girldrive had to say. I’ve been thinking constantly about how feminism is represented in mainstream spaces, and it’s just a really sad, sad state of affairs when it comes to being inclusive. Renee expressed a lot of truisms which rarely get the kind of platform it did today.

I’ll say it again: feminism is not an easier sell without anti-racism. Race and sex are intertwined. AND (most importantly): some women do have gender consciousness, know all about feminism, and still reject it because they feel it does not include them and never did–women like Renee and Cille and Bea and Jennifer Bartlett and the vast majority of WOC (or otherwise traditionally marginalized women) we talked to on our road trip. This narrative is straight-up missing from the mainstream analysis of feminism and gender activism.

The irony is not lost on me that I’m now interviewed as a feminist “expert” despite Emma’s and my attempt not to privilege our own voices in Girldrive. It’s frankly a little awkward for me, a white woman, to be publicly pushing the conversation forward when there are so many women in my book saying the exact same thing as Renee. In a way, our book deal itself is yet another example of who the world deems “qualified” to write about feminism. But what we tried to do with Girldrive is at least name what has been historically wrong with the movement. Everyone–black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight–has a responsibility to do that.

Sure, the “I’m not a feminist, but” convo is important to have. But if we don’t start talking about why marginalized women don’t relate to feminism, the same painful, embarrassing, shitty feminist mistakes will continue to be made.

Renee expands here in light of Jezebel’s “but we have black friends!” reaction to her piece. Meanwhile, kindly listen to the gently satiric lyrics of Gordon Voidwell:

Gordon Voidwell – White Friends

Tags: Redefining Feminism

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Renee // Apr 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to weigh in. I was very excited to get the opportunity to respond and positively shocked when I read the post at Jezebel the next day. Centering in on the word “largely” is ridiculous and the more it is justified the more irritating it becomes. It’s not a great way to convince someone that feminism is inclusive.

  • 2 Great Cancer Cure » Blog Archive » An American cancer survivor, cycling for a cure // Apr 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    [...] Beyond “I'm not a feminist, but…” [...]

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