I'm a real life feminist. A lot of people don't expect that. Raised in conservative America, Christian, and product of an all-male historically Black education, I'm supposed to be some Big Brother Almighty and Mr. (from the Color Purple) synthesized evil Black man. If you let Tyler Perry tell it, the fact that I don't wear a shirt with my name on it to work is reason enough to vilify me. But I was raised by an incredible woman who proved to me the worth of the opposite sex before I ever knew what such a thing was. I repeat: I am a real life feminist.
The problem comes though when I have to interact with pseudo feminists. Too many woman think that being a woman make them experts on progressive women's politics. Now, I will admit that there is no way to intellectualize oppression. You can't study it or experience it vicariously. So despite having been taught by some of the greatest feminist minds this nation has to offer, I could never tell a woman what it's like to be oppressed because of my sex. I will concede that life experience gives you insight on the nature of struggle. But what is to be considered is not the nature of struggle but the anatomy of change.
This concept was brought to my attention recently in conversation with a close female friend of mine who was having some difficulty dating. She's beautiful and smart. She graduated from a great school and will probably go on to do great things. She considers herself a feminist but, in reality, is not.
|NaS and Kelis in happier times.|
Spousal support is, in my humble opinion, a legalized relic of a time long gone where women were helpless economically. It used to be that a divorced woman was ruined. Because of sexism in the workplace and a culture that did not tolerate a working woman, they once needed their husbands' support beyond their marriages and into the next phase of their lives. It was once reasonable. I'd venture to say that it was a moral necessity. Now it just serves to perpetuate the notion that women need to be taken care of.
In 2010, there are many who claim to be "independent women." The term is redundant and based in an assumption that women, by nature, are no such thing but I digress. These women work and support themselves. They buy their own Beyonce CD's. They are no longer accepting being the "weaker sex" - or so they think.
So when a women says to me that a man must pay for her dinner, I assume that she values her time as a commodity to be bought and sold to whoever has the resources (and any man seeking it as a resource.) When a woman asks me to lift something for her, I can only assume that she is weak or fragile and in need of someone to take care of her. When a woman defends outrageous claims for spousal support, I take it that she sees marriage primarily as a means of security and not a partnership between capable equals.
When I hear those women, I don't think of the Sojourner Truth's, Rosie the Riveter's, or even my mother. I think of people who are complicit in their own oppression, who are too comforted by the small gains of benevolent sexism to step out into their freedom. I think of them and walk the other way.
Read works by bell hooks: