Thursday, June 16, 2011

Madame Noire Needs To Stop Talking About Feminism

Being a womanist, I clearly have issues with feminism.  I know that feminism has been guilty of all kinds of fuckery, but to claim as LaSaun Williams recently did over at Madame Noir, that it is responsible for single Black women being incapable of getting and keeping a man, is beyond a stretch, it is ridiculous.  Let's check out the seven reasons that Williams believes that feminism has gone to far.
False Sense of Sexual Liberation
liberation is an opportunity for regulation, not hyper-consumption. Women have to be smart and, sometimes, that means playing by the rules. Jesus will be back before it’s cool for a woman to break the five-finger rule.
Are you following this argument?  Okay men are still sexist and believe that they have the right to hump whoever the hell they want, but because they don't believe that this freedom should apply to women, we should keep our legs shut and deny ourselves sexual gratification.  What the hell does this have to do with feminism?  It seems to me to be evidence that feminism still has work to do to eliminate the sexual taboos that are constructed specifically to oppress women. Teaching women to participate in sex on their terms is empowering, but then I can see how that would confuse someone who has internalized patriarchal ideals.

Disregard for Gender Roles
Men are physically stronger than women and, mentally, they are programed to handle similar situations differently. It’s just that simple. Where women are weak men tend to be stronger and vice versa—each created to complement the other. Does that mean a woman shouldn’t run for president? No. What it does mean is that we should respect our position and take pride in being women. Femininity is warm, nurturing, discerning and genteel. Quite the opposite of the brash, hypersensitive, over-the-top-dot-com demeanor that defines black feminism. When gender roles are over-compromised, relationships are thrown off balance.
So, patriarchy enforces gender essentialism and gender performance, but feminism is at fault for women choosing to cast this aside and be who they are. So basically, don't hurt the fee fees of men and be sure to be properly submissive and nurturing.  Our position it would seem, is always secondary to a man.
Girlfriends First
But, friends are the reason some women are single. Whether it’s chronic single-to-chronic single advice, boyfriend-bashing or neediness, some of our girls are holding us back. While loyalty is very important, there comes a day when your man should slide into first place.
Okay, so relationships with other women is important, but they can never take precedence over anything else, because the focus in our lives should be a man.   Williams would like us to believe that feminism is the issue, but it seems to me that thus far she has spend a lot of time blaming other women.
Princess Attitude
Do you deserve to be courted? Yes. Should a man open doors and cover tabs? Yes; but, you should also be prepared to cook a meal or two and rub his back. Expecting something for nothing is childish. Relationships are a two-way street. It’s not just about you. Feminism has left some women feeling entitled to royal treatment.
Clearly Williams has never read anything about feminism if she can actually claim that it leads to a princess complex.  Feminism has for years been dedicated to breaking down the idea that women are delicate wilting flowers specifically because it is limiting. Feminist relationships are about reciprocity not about privileging one gender over another.
Independent Woman Syndrome 
If you act like a man you will be treated as such. Yes, modern women can do everything for themselves. We don’t need men for anything. But, we should still put them to work. Taking on all of the responsibility in relationships fosters laziness and complacency.
Williams clearly has no relationship with reality. Being independent and making sure that your needs are met is acting like a man?  Really?  Let's just be honest, a large percentage of marriage end in divorce no matter how lovey dovey the couple is on the wedding day.  Relationships take hard work and many are not committed enough to fight to stay together during the rough times.  A woman that is not prepared to raise her own kids and pay her own bills is putting her security in the hands of someone else and that is not only financial suicide, it is personally irresponsible. 
Fear of Disappointment
The radical feminism of black women left to raise children alone is one of fear—fear that no relationship is forever, fear that all men eventually leave you…with nothing. For that reason, so many of us are guarded and frown at the thought of not working outside of the home.
Okay, when did large swathes of Black women suddenly get the opportunity to be stay at home moms?  It seems to me that this is something that happened largely with White women.  Again, Williams is not only out of touch with reality, this time she is out of touch with history.  Most middle class families are dependent upon two incomes.  This is not something that feminism is responsible for. The real culprit is capitalism.  
What you won’t do some other woman who does not mind being “objectified” will. Period.
Ummm isn't this in direct contradiction to her earlier suggestion that women need to be more chaste? Oh I get it, don't be a whore, unless a man gives your permission to be one.  You should not have to give up autonomy over your body, so that someone else can achieve sexual gratification.  Further, I suggest that Williams has no understanding of what sexual objectification really means, and how it works to oppress women.

There are many critiques that can and should be made of feminism, but the list of wrongs that Williams assigned, are full of ignorance, and in fact argue for an increase in sexism. How is any of that pro woman or conducive to a relationship between equals? I also think that it is absolutely worth noting that these kinds of articles ignore that there are women who have no interest in men because they are lesbians or asexual. I wonder what Williams thinks of their gender performance and whether or not she has specific ideas about how their sexuality informs their womanhood.

Madam Noir's goal is to maintain a site that is relevant to the lives of Black women, but this article, like many it has published, quite frankly tells me that the editors and writers have no real idea how to empower women to make the decisions that make them happy.  Black women don't need police themselves because the world is quite happy to do that for us. If Madam Noir was truly interested in fostering a safe space for us, it would recognize that no monolithic woman exists and would therefore work hard to ensure that all women are not only represented but have a voice.  If we need a dose of sexism to make us feel womanly we can just head to an MRA site rather than listening to sisters suffering with Stockholm syndrome.