I am no longer a feminist

Immersing myself into blogging has given me unfettered access to a wide variety of viewpoints, writing styles and people I’ve come to admire for their expertise. It’s also given me a chance to solidify my belief that everyone deserves a chance to live a happy, healthy life.

However, over the past three years, I’ve grown disappointed at the rejection, appropriation, elimination and arrogance exhibited by traditional feminist spaces with regards to women of color, our opinions and life experiences. I’ve watched how feminists silently sat by and allowed conservative white men to ruthlessly attack First Lady Michelle Obama and other prominent black women, rush to the aid and defense of Hillary Clinton and other white female leaders who’ve come under verbal assault from the right.

I’ve watched feminists, who are the main proponents of female solidarity and alliance, routinely fall silent as black women come under the attack by well-crafted media campaigns that question why we haven’t gone the traditional route women are encouraged to take by getting married and having babies.

I’ve watched feminist remain mum on the viral attacks on Amber Cole and other black girls whose bodies are commodified and exploited by society at large–and the black community on a smaller scale–for profit.

I’ve even watched white feminists foolishly appropriate racial injustices black women are faced with each day, minimizing or erasing a woman of color’s experience in a society that values whiteness and white womanhood.

White female, cisgendered, able-bodied, straight feminists have effectively sealed off their arena from fellow women who do not fit into their box of who they believe should benefit from the advancement of feminism.

Recognizing this tragic exclusion of other women, I can no longer align myself with a movement that seeks to minimize and erase women who look like me. After years of performing what amounts to a life-changing, soul-searching quest for answers, I feel comfortable and secure in my values to liberate myself from the shackles of feminism. I am no longer a feminist.

Feminism as it stands is unwilling to accommodate, reach out and consider itself an effective ideology for women of color and other women who don’t identify as cisgendered, straight and middle-to-upper middle class white women. Visit after visit to feminist-oriented blogs leaves me frustrated, shut out and relegated to the sidelines. Attempts to engage in discussions with feminists about women of color and our perspectives leaves me with not only a sense of hopelessness and rage, but with a mind-numbing headache that not even the strongest dose of Oxycontin can subdue.

Feminism isn’t for me as it assumes all women, no matter what our race, ethnicity, class background, sexual orientation or disability status, should rally around the cause of eradicating gender discrimination. While this sounds innocent and harmless on the surface, women of color, trans-women, lesbians, bisexuals and disabled women do not experience gender discrimination the same way cisgendered, straight able-bodied white women do. Feminism has a one-track mind when it comes to addressing women’s issues–and that one size fits all policy is too rigid to consider the perspectives of other women.

Women of color continue to be silenced by feminists, our issued brushed aside and labeled as to divisive. Black women in particular are criticized for focusing too much on race and , according to feminists, should all unite behind the cause of fighting gender discrimination, as lifting up the mantle of white women will bring success and prosperity to all women.

This sort of mind game employed by the traditional feminist movement has routinely been proven not to be true. White feminists have  been all too willing to utilize their own privilege and position of power to trample on the backs of women of color and enforce harmful racist, sexual stereotypes that continue to hold black women in bondage.

Women of color have had to sit back and watch our research and documentation of our lives and experiences appropriated without proper acknowledgement for the grunt work we’ve done in advance. Women of color have had to watch feminists play white savior whenever they believe an act of racial injustice (ironically, it’s usually the mistreatment of a black man) was too horrific for them to ignore for political gain. Women of color have had their ideas and thoughts ignored by traditional white feminists only to be “rediscovered” when another so-called enlightened white female academic presents her findings on women of color to her fellow feminists.

Elements of radial feminism have been open about their unapologetic transphobia and trans-hatred, something the feminist movement on a larger scale has refused to address as one of many problems cramping its style.

Feminism is not and probably won’t ever be a safe space for me as feminism as a whole does not address the impact of white supremacy, white privilege, racism and whiteness has had on my life. Granted, patriarchy is a bitch and works to actively suppress women across the board. However, white feminists refuse to acknowledge patriarchy also works to protect their status as the model woman female POCs should emulate.  Feminists continue to hide behind their frustration of patriarchy, but continue to deny or refute any attempts by women of color to address the impact of whiteness on our lives.

Women of color entering feminist spaces routinely have to negotiate racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableist sentiments in order to not rock the boat. Women of color in feminist spaces routinely have to play the magical Negro for white women who refuse to learn the basics of what it means to be an ally and explain why certain comments, assumptions and stereotypes are indeed racist–only to have their reasoning fall on deaf ears as white women just can’t acknowledge their privilege.

Women of color entering feminist spaces are forced to play mammy and reassure white women, who somehow always learn the true errors of their ways through a faux epiphany, that they are indeed good people after their fellow feminist confirms hypocritical racist behaviors women of color initially point out. Women of color in feminist spaces are rarely allowed to hold white women accountable for reinforcing and promoting whiteness as it’s one of few spaces in which white women are capable to dominate due to the racist belief that our otherness deems us unworthy of respect and incapable of leadership.

This black woman is tired of trying to squeeze my ideas and activism into the narrow definition of feminism, only to feel belittled and disrespected by what is initially promoted as a safe space that turns out to be a hostile environment. The struggle for women’s equality and women’s rights existed well before feminism and will continue to be a thriving form of activism as long as patriarchy’s roots remain deep in society.

Woman of color have advocated for women’s rights and female quality long before feminism entered history and I don’t need the stamp of approval from white feminists to fight for women’s advancement.

41 comments on “I am no longer a feminist

  1. This black woman is tired of trying to squeeze my ideas and activism
    into the narrow definition of feminism, only to feel belittled and
    disrespected by what is initially promoted as a safe space that turns
    out to be a hostile environment.

    I understand what you’re saying and how you feel. I have experienced many of these issues on those other sites too but for me it’s usually the male supremacy that turns me off more than racism. But do you really want to label feminism white? I understand and sympathize with all your points I just think that feminism can’t be owned by one race even though the dominant population is white. Yes many and even most are doing it wrong but carve out your niche wherever you want it to be within feminism. There is room.

    1. I honestly do not want to label feminism white, but feminism as a whole has not been accepting of the fact that everyone in the movement is not white, cisgendered, straight middle to upper middle class women. 

      Women of color have been trying to “carve out” our niche within feminism for a century, but we are routinely criticized for focusing too much on race/ethnicity by feminism as a whole and our ideals are rejected as being too divisive. Furthermore, to suggest that any other form of women’s rights activism should exist within feminism minimizes the impact of racism and otherness women of color face each day. 

  2. I’m not trying to minimize. I experience the same racism as you. I’m just saying we women only have each other to try to effect change and the number of conscious women is already small. I have loooong since given up on men. If we give up on women too we have no shot. By the way I struggle with this issue of unsupportive, traitor women all the time. Very recently, in fact. But I can’t allow myself to give up on women even though I know most would throw me under a train to get to a man. Because then I would have no hope at all.

    Note:  Don’t know if it’s just me but your background is dark gray and your text is black so I have to highlight to read everything but the post itself.

      1. I’m talking about the entire web page including comments, poetry, who am i, etc. The blue blog list show up. The only readable sections (black text/white background) are the post itself and Politifact.com section. Everything else is monotone (black text/dark gray background).

  3. I think that Black women are natural feminists; we don’t need an official movement to assert that. The overall experience of Black women in America has been one of not having the luxury to just sit back, relax and be taken care of. No, we’ve had to step up to the plate on a consistent basis…when our fathers, brothers and husband were terrorized, incarcerated, overworked/underpaid and even murdered.

    But I personally don’t share an affinity with the feminist movement because it seems devoid of what I think is the greatest strength of Black women: our ability to nurture and raise (or ‘build’) strong families. When I think of the Black women that I most admire…it’s not Oprah. It’s not even the most professionally successful women in my own family. It is the nurtures…my Grandmothers, my Aunts, etc. I see my White peers who are mothers and the bond that grows from passing down a legacy of survival is just not there. That is where the strength of Black women lies. It may be hopelessly outdated in its concept…but that’s just how I feel.  

    1. And that is why most black women have never been able to relate to white feminists and feminism in general: black women love families, love their men and don’t believe they are being “oppressed” by men.

  4. Well, I  stopped identifying as feminist for many of the reasons you listed in this piece.  Feminism just like any other social institution works to reaffirm hierarchy though it is supposed to be creating change.  The same privileged bodies inevitably rise to the top, and we are told to accept it, that we are being to sensitive or asked to repeat basic concepts ad nauseum. I think that as Black women we need to continue to confront sexism; however, feminism, or White women for that matter are not our natural allies.

  5. mmm, those are all the reasons I because a radical feminist, and started making fun of funfems.   But then again, radical feminists do seem to spend most of their energy on the biggest threat to ALL women:  dehumanization and objectification of women based on their biological sex.  From my perspective (and of course I could be wrong) what you seem to be saying is “those people aren’t donating to my own favorite charity as often as I’d like”.   Well, okay then, but how often must a white woman complain about racism which would indeed meet your standards?

    Put a number on it.  Seriously.  Not to trigger your defensiveness but hey — Name a percentage of their posts dedicated to racism which would meet your approval.  And the reason I suggest an actual number is because as long as you don’t put a number on it, then any amount no matter how large will always be “never enough”.  This is called moving the goal post.  It’s a fucking shyster trick.  So put a number on it.

    While you’re at it, name the percentage of blog posts which *should* be written by Black men on the subject of sexism, lest you remember to withdraw your unconditional support of them ALSO.  Here’s the thing:  your male supremacy is glaringly obvious to me and yet you expect a cookie from an ultra radical feminist.  get real.  start noticing the sexism which affects YOU for once.

    No, we’ve had to step up to the plate on a consistent basis…when our
    fathers, brothers and husband were terrorized, incarcerated,
    overworked/underpaid and even murdered.  Paraphrasing the rest:  We are natural mommies to our precious, precious boys.

    what about teh menz.  Er, what about YOU?  Who’s looking out for YOU?  Cos sure as shit it ain’t the Black man who’s too busy looking for an excuse to run another train, or keep you under his thumb. 

    Women of color have had to watch feminists play white savior whenever
    they believe an act of racial injustice (ironically, it’s usually the
    mistreatment of a black man) was too horrific for them to ignore for
    political gain.

    You’re complaining about funfems again, not radfems.  And notice what else you’re doing:  when white women do complain about sexism as it applies to women of color, you don’t like it.  Make up your fucking mind.   Anyway, seems kind of weird that a Black woman would accuse ALL white women of “not doing enough about racism” when so many Black women don’t even seem to recognize how they’re basically just funfems themselves, more worried about teh menz then they are about Black women and girls.  I can’t respect doormats, of any color.  When you start caring about Black women and girls, then you can be a feminist.  Until then, you’re just another apologist for patriarchy hiding behind racism as a pity shield. 

    One final thing.  When a funfem writes a post lambasting those evil radfems who keep attacking her precious menz, she tends to shriek when an actual radfem shows up to delineate the bullshit.  So go on, show me your funfem spiel.  If you don’t want to care about Black women and girls even half as much as you care about Black men and boys, then I can’t make you and I wouldn’t even try.  But please, at least notice the real reason for my contempt.  You’re a fucking funfem of color.  There is no solidarity possible with somebody like you, because you’d throw Black women and girls under the bus if a Black man even waved at you across the street.  I value Black women and girls more than you do.

    1. Agreed, this is what I came here to say. I am not a Black Nationalist or a Pan-Africanist- I am a Womanist. I care about women, especially Black women. Black men, just like all men have no problem screwing women, but they are not interested in us being on equal terms. To them we are objects for them to have sex with. I am not interested in belonging to a movement with beings who see nothing wrong with objectifying women and throwing us under the bus.

      However, let it be said that white women are higher up on the socio-economic totem pole than most non-white men in America. Sometimes I feel kinship with men because they are also discriminated against, however when I hear about how they truly feel us- all positive feelings evaporate. This is a complicated issue for me- it’s far more complicated than I can manage to explain right now. 

    2. Um…I have no idea what point you were trying to make, but I will try to dismantle your thoughts:

      You can try to distinguish yourself from so-called “funfems” by aligning yourself with so-called “radical fem” when in reality, both of these subgroups of feminism benefit from one thing: white male patriarchy. Both radical feminists and traditional feminists have remained silent on how you all benefit from white male paternalism and the otherness of women of color. Your rant in this post–and refusal to address that glaring fact–is a prime example of the defensiveness many white feminists have when their hypocrisy is dissected. 

      White feminists rarely do not complain about the sexism directed towards black women. Where were the white feminists when Michelle Obama has been relentlessly attacked by Rush Limbaugh and other right wingers? Where were the white feminists when that black woman with special needs in Kentucky was held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted, only to have her story denied? Where were the white feminists when the media dogged the black woman who accused some of the Duke lacrosse players of rape? You were silent then. 

      White feminists only speak out against the rape and degradation of black women when it benefits them or when it’s the popular thing to do. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the shining example of this. He represented wealth, and had repeated sexual harassment charges towards him, so he fit the bill as someone white feminists would love to hate. 

      While you’re at it, name the percentage of blog posts which *should* be written by Black men on the subject of sexism, lest you remember to withdraw your unconditional support of them ALSO.  Here’s the thing:  your male supremacy is glaringly obvious to me and yet you expect a cookie from an ultra radical feminist.  get real.  start noticing the sexism which affects YOU for once.

      Are you fucking kidding me? Have you even read my blog? I won’t even dignify that twisted paragraph with a response as you obviously haven’t taken the time to read my material before making that sort of blanket generalization. You’re a fucking funfem of color.  There is no solidarity possible with somebody like you, because you’d throw Black women and girls under the bus if a Black man even waved at you across the street.  I value Black women and girls more than you do.

      Oh, so you claim to value black women and girls more than me. You want a cookie and a pat on the back for that? How about a coke and a smile?

    1. Just looked at the website using an older version of Internet Explorer at work and it does appear to be a problem. I don’t have this problem when I use Chrome, Firefox or the latest version of Internet Explorer at home.

  6. Talk about being ignorant and patronizing.  This is one word for radical feminism and that is essentialist.  Radical feminists have a long history of transphobia as well as marginalizing disabled, and woc of colour.  There is no such thing as a monolithic woman and that is one thing you 70’s era theorists cannot seem to get through your thick heads.

    It is not a WOC’s responsibility to fix feminism because we did not mess it up in the first place.  The point of fact is that when it comes to racism, White women are just as culpable as White men as your disgusting little tirade proves.

    You what about the mehnz like was not only dehumanizing, it was absolutely racist.  I am the mother of two sons, and you better believe that I am word about some trigger happy racist cop deciding one day that one of them is a risk based solely on the colour of his skin. If you think that does not effect my life as a woman that you have no idea what we have to struggle with.

    I would say more but it is pointless to argue with someone who does not even have the basic anti-racist theory down.  You should take the opportunity to STFU and learn because the last thing we need is lecturing from the likes of you.

  7. This is a great sentiment and statement that needed to be said.  Black wonderful women now see we must be for each other not white feminist notions and ideas.  We do not fit the mold and I am so glad.  We are much more than that.   White women do not care of our issues through racist and bigotry through which some of them are the culprit.  Also some ridiculous black male  counterparts have created personal attacks and reeled against  black women’s, simply because of mysogynist  abuse, thug mentality,  lacking in manhood and principals.  We will stand up for what WE Are…. the Best of the Best in what a woman is.

  8. My heart aches after reading this. Not because as a Black woman you are denouncing the mainstream ideas of feminism that focuses on the experiences of white women by just “eradicating gender discrimination” because let’s face it, any WOC will tell you you’re 100% on on that. But because Black feminism exists! And Black feminist theory and Black feminist thought is around. You are right, before the mainstream feminist movements existed, WOC have ALWAYS advocated for rights and equality, and there are numerous Black women who have documented ways that show what it means to be a true champion for justice and equality. I absolutely agree with your disappointment but please know that Black feminism is here and it readily awaits all you have concerning intersections.

  9. I don’t undertand you all. I’m against sexism and oppression no matter who the victim is. Why does it have to be ‘stop focusing on white people and start focusing on black people’? Why can’t it just be ‘foucus on all people’? Obviously I can’t speak for all feminists, but personally I don’t give a hoot if it’s a black woman or a white woman being victimised, I don’t care a thing for white patriarchy, in fact I hate it, and I wouldn’t much go for black patriarchy either. Stop flipping arguing and start cooperating. Feminism isn’t just about women’s oppression, it’s about race, age, sexuality and any other issue of discrimination you can think of.

  10. ” All feminists are white, all blacks are men but some of us are brave” . While this statement about black feminism is not literally true, it does represent the focus of the proponents of feminist groups and civil rights organizations. I am not a Feminist I am a Black feminist. I did not chose to be one.
    In a culture where stereotypes abound and history is written by the winners, simply believing that that I am competent, beautiful and valuable person has but me at odds with the believed cultural norms and catapulted me into black feminist territory. I will not be apart of a movement that discounts my opinions and marginalizes me simply because I have too much respect for myself as a human being.
    Some may say that I should join the mainstream feminist movement in order to enlighten white upper middle women and create diversity. To those people I say, that is not my job. Oppressors love to turn the focus of the oppressed back to them by asking them to be spokes people and making them pander to the majority in order to make their opions heard. I would rather focus on cultivating a space where my views can be heard and working to advance my own goals and empowerment. In my very biased opinion black women are some of the most remarkable human beings that I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. We are beautiful, vulnerable , intelligent, and worthy of all the good things life has to offer. If we (or any women of color) align ourselves with people who refuse to acknowledge our problems, who “other” us and ask us to work for their advancement at the price of our own, we are selling ourselves short. Period.

  11. Thank you for this article. I am a French black girl, currently wondering about my activism, depressed and exhausted after all the things you listed. I thought I had just to keep on, despite my desillusions, and even this morning, I woke up and my back is tense because of all this wasted energy. Now, I feel like I can breath again, because you put words about what I feel, and I don’t know yet if it means that I am no longer a feminist, but I deeply know there are other women in the same situation. So, again,thank you so much.

  12. As a disabled woman I find feminism never mentions how this this affects my discrimination against in particular.Feminism has a real problem with disabled women because we actually are not strong able and healthy women so where do we fit? Answer to them is we don’t. I can see parallels with women who are not white as they also have double oppression.

  13. Sadly, feminism has elevated white women into a very privileged position class in the US. Women age 21 to 34 now make 9% higher wages than men the same age. Women make up 58% of US workforce. BUT: Women of color still suffer racism and oppression.

  14. An example I’ve used recently is the treatment of Mia Love, both during her race for Congress and after. I saw it as a win. Here was a black woman elected to Congress in what may be one of the whitest states in the US. What happened, however, was very public outrage from the political Left. She was the wrong kind of Black Woman. She was called an Uncle Tom…by white feminsts. She was called a slave of the patriarchy…by white feminists. She was called a puppet of the Republicans…by white feminist. She didn’t fit the model of Black Woman as established by mainstream white feminism. She was denounced for not staying in her place, which is in suport of white, middle-class, liberal, women. She was not seen as a force of change able to work within a party considered to be “The Enemy.” On top of all that, her faith was targeted. White feminism barely tolerates Christian women (FYI, I’m not Christian) and flat out ignores the fact that black women are often deeply connected to their communities through their church and religion. It becomes problematic when eligious institutions are denouced as tools of The Patriarchy becajse they are so oftwn the source of connection. Mia Love was all around wrong. When the left wing talking heads made blatently racist joke about her, feminism turned away from her.

    My own conflicts with mainstream feminism stem from also being the wrong kid of woman: A veteran, a disabled one at that, and leaning too much toward being conservative. Oh the things I hear! The assumptions that I didn’t have the option to go to college, that I was to stupid for school, that the military was a place to escape abuse, that I wouldn’t choose to serve simply because I wanted to. I’ve been told I deserve the disability for having done so. When pointed out that the feminist movement only shows support for female service members when it comes to rape (while ignoring all the men who are sexually traumatised in the military), I’m met with excuses, justfications, and victim blaming in the form of suggesting female service members brought it on themselves. From my point of view, we’re only valued by mainstream feminism when we’re victims. We’re the wrong kind of women.

    Mainstream feminism lies to itself every time it says it exists for all women. Even within the bubble of white women, only the right sort of women are supported. It reuses to acknowlege how it’s narrow definitions alienate entire demographics who would otherwise be strong supporters. It’s eating itself from the inside out as it regects anyone who questions it’s methods.

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