As we mentioned before, from time to time we like to highlight top comments or posts that garner additional discussion among our readers. SBM writer Tunde recently authored just such a post when he asked if a man can be a feminist. In response to Tunde’s question and to the theme of a number of other comments, @FeministaJones of FeministaJones.com provided the following response.
@FeminstaJones: I think the biggest issue in discussions of feminism are that the hyperbolic stereotypes of the White, wealthy, liberal female activists of the 1970s are applied to sistas who have also been rejected and pushed aside by those women. I think if we can move away from painting Black feminist women as new wave “bra burners” (bras were never burned, btw) who seek to destroy the “Black Man”, we might be able to have a more productive conversation. I also think we should contextualize the practical applications of feminism and how these applications have not only helped Black women, but also Black men.
My first exposure to feminism was via Salt-N-Pepa. I like that the author referenced Joan Morgan’s book on “hip hop feminism”, though I find her a bit campy and anecdotal lol. I appreciate her at least bringing the idea forward. I find bell hooks to be similarly anecdotal, but again, she has a very good way of capturing the love the Black women have for men coupled our desires to be respected and treated fairly within our homes and communities. I think, sometimes, taking the more anecdotal approach rather than a theoretical one can help with understanding.
Practical applications of feminism:
Voting- Women are now allowed to vote in elections and were KEY in President Obama’s election and re-election. Without feminism, women would not be able to cast their votes and he might not have won his post. In local elections, women turn out in support of local candidates who seem to care more about issues specific to their smaller communities. Candidates need those votes.
Contracts- As late as the late 1970s, women weren’t universally allowed to sign their own contracts (credit card agreements, loans, mortgages, utility bills, etc). Surely you can understand why a woman being able to have her own cell phone contract or internet bill is important? Why it is important for a woman to be able to sign her own lease for an apartment or apply for a car loan on her own? Or…cosign for yours if you’re in need of that help?
Healthcare– For men who have children with women to whom they are not married, it is important for women to have access to their own health coverage that can also cover their children. I read a report that most children born out of wedlock who have health insurance get it through their mothers. Without feminism, women wouldn’t be able to obtain the kind of work that provides that coverage, they wouldn’t be able to enter into the agreements without male cosignature, and your children might not have solid health insurance. Also, they need the coverage for the costs of birthing these children.
Economic– feminism helped women be able to open businesses and become active contributors to the economy. Women business owners provide great services that sometimes men overlook as being valuable: dining, aesthetic care, accounting, child care, event planning, retail, etc. Without feminism, women would be unable to get small business loans to open their businesses, they would not be able to provide these services that we all rely upon.
Banking– women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts and credit cards. How are we supposed to pay for the dates that we’re told we need to go dutch on or cover if we invite men? How are we to pay for gifts that make you smile? How can we order your favorite NFL season passes online or get season tickets for your favorite basketball games without having access to our own bank accounts/debit and credit cards?
Violence Protection– Brothers, you have mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters who are susceptible to violence at any time. Feminism has fought for laws that protect women from violence, harassment, rape, etc. If you’re pro-woman, you would support legislation that keeps us safe when we walk down the streets so that we can come back home to you safely. How would you feel if your daughter’s husband slapped her and she cried to you? Well not even 30 years ago, he could do that and it would be acceptable as long as he didn’t punch her. And now? It’s still hard as hell to get support for that. I suppose you could take it into your own hands, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing there are laws that can punish such a man for hurting the women you love?
All of these, and MANY more progressive acts that benefit all of us, were made possible by the feminism movement and the efforts of women of all races. Black women have our own narrative and we face struggle being Black and being women. It’s been difficult to watch some brothers advocate for fair treatment of Black people but then mistreat the women in their lives. If you feel feminism is a threat to your manhood or standing as a man, I hate to tell you but…you’re incorrect.
These seem like noble goals and accomplishments that both sexes benefit from, so why is it that men and women, especially women who self-identify as feminist, often find themselves in constant conflict with one another?