My Daughter Won't Be a Feminist
While watching society continue to fight and formulate opinions regarding women and the ever-changing demands of womanhood, I came to a very specific conclusion. You’ll never see my daughter in one of those adorable “future feminist” onesies. She will be raised as a Black woman, not a feminist, because there is, and has always been, a difference.
Feminism in theory is a beautiful thing. Wanting women to be seen, respected and treated as equals to their male counterparts is what everyone on any spectrum should strive for. I love the idea of feminism, I just don’t respect the execution.
She, nor I, have the luxury of ignoring how feminism, from its inception, has dismissed, ignored, and refused to see her predecessors as an integral part of its progression unless it included stepping on their backs to move up. I’m not going to give my daughter a pair of rose-tinted glasses that cloud the history of all the times Black women have gone to bat for issues pertinent to the elevation of the community to, in return, be offered up to patriarchy as sacrifice to maintain the racial status quo.
She will not be of service with no compensation.
She needs to know, early, where and how her efforts will matter most. She will not feel responsible for continuing to try to uplift the same population that regularly denies her complex issues, ignores her blood spilled in the street, and remains stoic when she cries out in pain. She does not have to be loyal to women who request she stand behind them instead of beside them. She will not put her heart, mind or body on the line for the same 52% that voted their privilege was more important than her existence.
The truth rests in the miserable fact that being a woman doesn’t mean you’re a feminist. It doesn’t mean you care about any woman other than yourself. It doesn’t mean you want all women to have the same opportunities as yourself. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are willing to sacrifice the advantage you do have to increase the chances for others. Feminism is plagued and sullied by racial, sexual, economic and educational discrimination that limits and prevents its core objectives from ever being universal.
So, no, it’s not for my daughter.
I will tell her she was born into the bottom of the American hierarchy. That her body is rarely appreciated or respected. That her voice is always too loud to never be heard. That her needs will consistently be diminished as secondary. I will teach her that no one is going to save her. Not White men because they will never give up their power. Not Black Men because they want to increase their power. Not White women because they enjoy being adjacent to power. And not White feminists because they are so set on having power they aren’t interested in sharing it.
She doesn’t have to time to be a feminist. Her purpose is beyond those limits. She comes from spectacular Black women that were forced to support the weight of everyone else on their backs. They did it with such grace everyone wants her to keep up the good work. It is a heaviness she never asked for. A burden she does not deserve. But she has every right to choose how she wants to carry it. She gets to choose how to use the magic she has inherited. And should a feminist ever question whether she has loyalty to their cause, she can confidently and proudly tell them…
Her time must be spent understanding and utilizing her gifts as a Black woman for Black women. She must always prioritize herself and the women who look like her while she is trying to change the world. Because unless she does, no one else will. Even though White women and other women of color will automatically benefit from her efforts, they cannot be her mission. She may not be able to control the momentum of the waves she produces, but she can make sure that those who are thirstiest get wet. And I will raise her to drown every Black woman she can with her love, support and assistance.
Will that declaration go over well?
Well-intentioned women and men may be offended by her unapologetic mission statement. But she cannot be deterred by the hurt feelings of those who refuse to follow her lead but demand her to follow their direction. Her life and the lives of the women who will follow in her footsteps require more than her supporting feminism for the sake of saying she’s a feminist.
Feminism needs to look like her, sound like her, and feel like her without her begging it to do so.
Feminists need to ask her, seek her, and represent her without her campaigning them to do so.
It needs to meet her where she is.
They need to recognize her from where they are.
It’s not her job to be a feminist, it’s feminism’s job to be her.
I cannot and would not tell you how to raise your child. But my daughter will be raised as a Black woman. Honestly, that is enough.