Archive of ‘Feminism’ category

Pitfalls In Dating As A Young Feminist [BlogHer Post]

Dating While Feminist Featured

“You can’t curse, it’s not lady like.”

I was so stunned by the statement, I actually took a moment to think carefully about myDating While Feminist Pin response. I’d been seeing this guy for just over 2 months and this wasn’t the first battle of wits we’d had. After a pause I calmly explained that, as a person I was free to curse at will and that if he felt it was offensive he was free to state that, but at no time was he going to tell me that I couldn’t curse because I was a girl. (more…)

The Accidental Feminist

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With feminism being a hot button topic of 2014  it seemed important to take a look at it in terms of myself and even more importantly in terms of this blog. When I wrote my Jill Scott piece a month or so back, I pointed out the separations in feminism and their historical roots. When The Root quoted my piece they referred to it as “published feminist analysis”, as flattering as it is to be titled as such, I was a little surprised. Nowhere in the post or on my blog did I ever state that I was in fact a feminist. I’ve never stated it, not because I’m afraid of the word or the label, but because I never thought I qualified for the honor or being one. It was never my goal to be a feminist.

Discovery

Sometime in the late summer I was on somewhat of an awkward group date with a girl friend of mine, an old high school classmate, and the friend he was trying to set me up with. We were waiting to go into the movie and chatting about old times when my friend reminded me of a book I had lent him in highschool, Assata. He turned to his friend and said, “Ari’s really into that, she’s always been kind of feminist.” The words were so foreign to my ears, I never said I was a feminist. I panicked as I searched my girlfriend’s face for help in a response. She looked at me blankly and shrugged her shoulders. I quickly brushed over the whole thing, asserting that I wasn’t a feminist and advising my friend to chill with his statements.  When I got in the car later with my girl friend I turned to her and before the words were even out of my mouth, she looked at me and said “yea you are a feminist.” I was surprised at her blunt statement of fact and quickly began to argue that I was not a feminist. I argued that just because I thought people should be treated equally, that women should be respected for achievements, and are entitled to do whatever they pleased did not make me a feminist. As the words left my mouth I realized how ridiculous I sounded, so I started the car turned up the radio and drove us home.

Define It For Me

I’ve always had a hard head and a strong will. In elementary school I hung with the boys because I always wanted them toFeminst Rant T-shirt know I could do anything that they could. While girls dreamed about Mr. Perfect and a white picket fence, I dreamed about a loft on the upper east side, a droptop silver convertible, and my adopted daughter. I’d never thought about my life or future in terms of my relationship with a man, not to say I wasn’t a slightly boy obsessed teenager. My parents always encouraged my independence, my belief that I could literally do anything I wanted to, and how important being a woman was to me. The word feminism was never used in my house, so for quite a few years it was foreign to me. As I began to learn about feminism it was all very academic, not so much a social understanding of it. So I always viewed feminists the way I viewed activists, I assumed them to be like Dr. King and Malcolm X, extraordinary people. I typically only studied feminism when it intersected with race, since my minor was in African American studies. I never took a class specific to feminism. I never went out of my way to find personal readings on feminism, everything I knew about feminism was what I’d learned in experience or passing.

Bandwagon

2014 seems like it was the year for feminism. Everywhere I turned everyone wanted to be a feminist, everyone knew a feminist, and the definition of feminism changed so many times I just couldn’t keep up. I disagreed with people’s obsession with “Beyoncé feminism”, I felt like there was so much missing from people’s assertions that her music had switched to a feminist nature. Feminism became murkier and murkier as the feminist t-shirts and apparel rolled out 10 fold. Everywhere I turned there were hints of feminism, it was overwhelming and frustrating, because I genuinely felt that so many people were taking on a title they really knew so little about. For so long society has asserted an “othering” of feminism; it existed as a counterculture. Now all of a sudden it was the culture. I understood the push to include more people in feminism, to encourage everyone to embrace it as a positive, but what I felt was missing was the education. So many women who I saw repping feminism and wearing feminist apparel, couldn’t tell you much of anything about bell hooks, the Seneca Falls Convention, feminist theory, Gloria Steinem, or gender oppression.

My Othering

I never neglected a title as a feminist, because I thought it was a bad thing. I’ve left men who believed that because I wanted equality in the feminism is for everybodyrelationship, I was a feminist. Not because they called me a feminist, but because they didn’t think equality in a relationship was the norm. Just as I was frustrated with girls who knew so little about feminism claiming to be feminists, I didn’t want to become that girl. I never set out to be a feminist. I never set out to study and understand feminist theory and history. I don’t like to talk about anything that I don’t have knowledge on, like they say, “try being informed, instead of just opinionated.” So I still don’t call myself a feminist, I don’t think I’m educated enough in feminism to be considered a feminist. What I’ve realized though, is that people are probably going to continue to label me as a feminist. Since that seems to become more and more unavoidable, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to be educated in feminism, so I can support that title. I’ve purchased a few of bell hooks works, I’ve started reading up in-depth on feminist theory, I’ve even contacted some professors from my alma mater who specialize in feminism and women’s studies. I think feminism is an important thing, it should be a cornerstone in society, every girl should want to be a feminist, but every girl should want to be a feminist for the right reasons. Feminism isn’t about the awesome t-shirt slogans or the interesting mainstream feminist articles. Feminism to me is about freedom, it’s about a new and deeper understanding of yourself as a woman, taking back your identity from years of a patriarchal oppressive societal stance, and learning about who you are as a result of the women who came before you. I stumbled into feminism and I am still ambling around, but I’m glad and honored to be an accidental feminist and I wear that title proudly.

You’re Not Allowed To Throw Shade At Janay Rice

Janay Rice Domestic Violence

If you’re anything like me then every time you see mention, photos, or video footage of Janay Rice something in your skin crawls. There is something that bubbles up inside of you, fast and hard. Go with those feelings. Feel frustrated, pissed off, disgusted, and angry; but feel these things for Janay, not towards her. Since the release of the full assault video and the NFL’s decision to let go of Ray Rice, I’ve seen a lot of misplaced anger directed towards Janay Rice. The operative words here being MISPLACED. If there’s one thing I was taught about violence, it’s that you never blame the victim. Period. To see both men and women getting upset with Janay Rice, calling her an idiot for the decisions she made, is disheartening. Do I hate that this woman is standing by her husband after he physically and publicly harmed her? Absolutely. What I don’t hate, is the woman.

Domestic violence is a woefully neglected topic in society,  and in my opinion right up there with mental illness. Nothing in domesticJanay Rice Domestic Violence violence is black and white, ever. When I re-watch the video of Janay’s apology for “her role” in the incident, I focus on how uncomfortable she looks and my mother comments on her lack of eye contact. I genuinely don’t believe in her heart of hearts that she wants to be there apologizing, but there’s a reason she is. What the reason is we may never know. When she made a statement saying that she would stand by her husband and show everyone what a real marriage and what true love looks like, I couldn’t decide whether she believes her own words or if they were fed to her by her abusive husband. Either way it’s a problem.

When people are abused physically you should automatically assume they are abused mentally as well, because the two go hand in hand. Something in your brain has to have been battered to instill in you the belief that you are deserving of the physical abuse you’re receiving. There are excuses made and defenses go up. It is really easy to be upset at the victim or say that if she stays she deserves whatever she gets, but it really is just not that simple.

Since Janay has been unable to illicit any public display of outrage for the harm done to her, whether she has wanted to or not, feel free to feel that for her. Feel free to feel that outrage for all victims of domestic abuse. I’ve seen way more defense for Ray Rice than I have for Janay Rice. I read a  few posts that said that people understand punishing Ray Rice, but that we shouldn’t be trying to ruin his life, because he definitely isn’t the first celebrity to have been discovered as an abuser. As I browsed the list of other celebrities who had been exposed as domestic abusers, I must admit I was surprised I didn’t know about a few of them, but I think that what inflates this situation more than the others is the extreme visibility of this case. It’s not a photo of Janay’s bruises and wounds as we typically see in these cases. This time we have a video, a video where we could watch this man cold clock his fiancé and drag her unconscious body, her backside exposed to the camera, out of the elevator and across the floor. We watched this man drag his wife like a sack of potatoes. It’s like watching an episode of Law and Order SVU and feeling like a frustrated Olivia, trying to convince the victim that she is in fact the victim.

The whole ordeal is graphic, I don’t even have to discuss that, but I don’t want to see it echo rape culture, where we start blaming the victim and discussing how sad it is that this situation is ending the abusers prime. No one forced him to hit his wife like he did. Everything in life has consequences and the consequence for hitting your wife so hard that one blow knocks her unconscious, is not being given the opportunity to bask in the glory as an athlete. Past the ability to earn a living, being an athlete is one of the most highly celebrated positions in American society. We revere them as some form of role model. In all honesty, I don’t understand how catching a ball makes you more of a role model than someone who can successfully cut someone open, fix them, and sew them back up, but I won’t even go there. I know people think you shouldn’t ruin anyone’s life over one mistake, and I agree, but you don’t allow them to be celebrated either. Removing him from the league was the right decision.

At the end of the day we have to remember one very important thing. Janay Rice is a victim. She is a victim of an ugly, despicable circumstance. She has been harmed by the person who is supposed to love her the most. She was devalued by her life partner, and as foolish as we all feel it is for her to stand by the sanctity of marriage when her partner clearly does not, we cannot shame her into changing her position.

An Open Letter to AIDS

AIDS,

I wish you would just kiss my black ass. As a black woman in the year 2012 I am much too informed and have way too much common sense to allow you to catch me and ruin my life. Don’t I? But why does it seem like you still manage to catch and punish my peers? How is it that as of 2009 African American women still account for the largest share of new HIV infections among women (57%) and the incidence rate among Black women is nearly 15 times the rate among white women? What is it that we still seem to be doing wrong? We use condoms right? We as black women are smart enough not to just “trust” every man we choose to get into bed with aren’t we? I could have sworn we were! We’re much too clever to be wooed by the “baby you know I’m clean” or “I just wanna feel you & nothing else”! Besides, we get tested, every 6 months right? You obviously have no intention of laying off my people. But I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t going to win. Because as you continue to rage on we will continue to educate ourselves and our coming generations. We will arm our youth in the war you have waged and protect ourselves from your attacks. We are a strong, industrious, and brilliant group and we will fight you to the death. We’re gonna kick your ass, just watch!

Love Always,

Ari

Ladies, it’s World AIDS day, but today is not the only day you should be thinking about the effects of AIDS. This epidemic is and has been coming for us for years. Arm yourselves with information and physical protection. Do not forget to practice what you preach, because the hardest thing is deciding in that moment if you will pick your carnal desire over the safety of your health. Don’t make the wrong decision, because whatever 5 minutes a man can offer you physically isn’t worth the years of treatment and sickness that will follow. Love yourself, respect yourself, protect yourself.