Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Should Women of Color Call Themselves Feminists?

So this link to came to me in an email from New Demographic which is a site dedicated to discussing representation of people of color (specifically multiracial people) in the media. I thought it was interesting that the topic of the article was about feminism. According to the article there has been a lot of discussion lately about women of color and whether or not they should call themselves feminist if feminist refuse to address racism as a feminist issue. I do not think this is a new debate at all, but I like to hear if any one else has opinions on this?


I personally do not have any problems with calling myself a feminist (speaking as a woman of color) but I have always felt that racism was an important issue addressed in feminism. Now that I reflect on my own experiences and some of the information I have read I can defiantly see where some of these women of color are coming from. However, I also recognize that I have some privilege as a white woman also, which makes my experiences different. Although I would say that I identify more as a person of color. Hmmmm.....


Chen said...


I'm so glad you brought up these two issues together -- race and feminism. It's something that's been on my mind for some time now, and been more pressing since I have become co-chair and since the Case Hall protest that WC didn't know about before it happened. (Granted, I heard it was planned last minute, but WC's exclusion from the list of cosponsors drove the point home even more for me.)

I tried to read some of that discussion on the link you left and I realized that I was going to dive into a long-standing discussion that would make my head hurt and rage.

I disagree with feminism being "race-neutral". There is no such thing as "race-neutral"! We can pontificate all this theoretical blah blah about how to keep race and feminism separate but we cannot in our flesh-bound lives, separate sex from race. It is tactically inefficient (READ: STUPID), if we want to instigate change, to send out one message believing that it will speak to everyone. It will not.

Joel said...

Mixing feminism and civil rights is the way to go. Obviously they have a lot in common, but they've been at odds before.

Sometimes radical movements want to make themselves appear less radical, which you can do by putting down other movements. It also happens that similar causes compete for attention from the same kinds of people.

But there's nothing more ridiculous and insulting than the idea that women of color can't be feminists. It reminds me of the Shahrazad Ali's sexist book "The Blackwoman's Guide to Understanding the Blackman." I don't think it's an idea even worth taking seriously (nor its reverse, that women can't be civil rights activists). Black women are black women.