So when I think of feminism, I’m really benefiting from the toil of others. Most days I feel as if I’m stepping on the backs of the smart, brave, beautiful women who came before me. I appreciate their efforts and am proud to call myself a feminist, and I’m proud of its rich history—all of it.
Over the years, I have wondered about the place of a middle-class black woman in today's society. My problems are just like my non-black counterparts: I worry about everything from the state of the world to the price of milk. Yet, I feel when I go through the doors of a grocery store, I’m looking for other faces of color—female faces of color. Massachusetts is not the most diverse state in the union.
And while I’ve had great job opportunities, I have this constant feeling that I have to work three times as hard to fit in, yet fly under the radar—in other words, I have to be accepted. Not because I worry about job security. It’s because I’m never quite sure I’m being paid as much as the man (or woman) next to me. These are the thoughts I’m constantly having as I black woman. I was born with a healthy sense of skepticism; I question all motives and never take anything at face value.
Irrational or not, digression or not, my feelings about feminism are tied to civil rights. Maybe it all comes under the header of “do unto others.” I’m going to quote a passage I wrote about the Dodge Poetry Festival:
Probably the most important message I took away was something poet Taslima Nasreen said: “We [women] cannot be free until we are all free.” There are women in all corners of the world suffering. Not one of us is safe unless we all have the freedom to live our lives free of oppression.
I cannot imagine a time when I could not vote, work, take birth control pills, wear pants instead of a skirt, sit wherever the hell I wanted, or order dinner instead of cook. As far as I’m concerned, these are inalienable rights.
So what are the five things feminism has given me?
The right to choose
The right to vote
The right to use contraception
The right to smash the glass ceiling
The right to wear pants
(Thanks Twitches and Chief Biscuit for helping me tap into my inner feminist. If you're reading this and want to try this meme, consider yourself tagged.)