I’ve faced this derailment tactic many times on social media! The fact that the general public has a misconception about feminism is a problem we need to collectively tackle. We have to work harder to educate more people about the many ways in which feminism has improved gender equality in different societies. Nevertheless, we also need to own up to and address the ongoing issues within branches of feminism. Mainstream feminism, that is, the brand of feminism that we see in the media and in popular books, and which is watered down for the “Lean In” catch cry, is dictated by White women’s experiences. We need to respect that White women’s femininity is not the universal norm. Like all social movements, feminism grows and changes.
The fact that misunderstandings exist, however, does not invalidate the word “feminism.” I’ve had White men show up on my posts demanding that I write about “equality” and “civil rights” instead of feminism. I’ve had White women tell me to stop talking about intersectionalism when they want to celebrate (White) women’s achievements (intersectionalism looks at the intersecting struggles of minorities, including sexism, racism, homophobia, disability discrimination and so on).
No. I will not stop talking about feminism or intersectionality. If an individual takes these general conversations about equality personally, the problem lies with them, not with the concepts that examine privilege.
Feminism is essential both as a set of theories and as a roadmap for social change. Feminism embraces all genders, and while there’s still much work to be done to make feminism more inclusive of minority experiences, feminism is an essential idea with great potential power for positive social transformation. Women continue to face many structural challenges at home, work, in politics and in other public spheres. We address men’s struggles, but women’s equality and diversity needs a dedicated platform. That is why feminism and its many branches, including Black Feminism, remain relevant to making fair and stronger societies.
[Image text] Question: “Why do you have to call it feminism? We all deserve equality and the term makes me feel left out. You should be an equalist or humanist.” Answer: “Because the continued disenfranchisement of women needs to be addressed specifically.” Q: “Why do you need black feminism? It should just be feminism. Why would you divide us like that?” A: “Really?