NAOMI M Lather 2015 www.glitterdynasty.com
A STATEMENT BY ZOE SAMUDZI OAKLAND, CA
I am not a Feminist because I am “othered” by the whiteness inherent to cisgender heterosexual middle class able-bodied western [hegemonic] feminism. I am not a Feminist because in attempts to universalize womanhood, i.e. define “real” womanhood by a common set of traumatic or violent or abusive experiences, I am excluded along with other women of color, trans and queer women, disabled women, and every other woman excluded by this ridiculous standard. I am not a Feminist because the reified second wave binary of male oppressor/female oppressed constructed by the gate-keeping of “legitimate” experiences of womanhood is dishonest and reductive. We are not similarly oppressed through thesimple merit of our common womanhood because we bear identities outside of our womanhood. This lack of intersectionality fails to account for the dictation, domination, and paternalism of white women in Feminist spaces – a capital F for the denotation of hegemony. I am not a Feminist because I refuse to participate in a politics of gendered liberation that maintains the same hierarchiesfrom which we are trying to escape. Cisgender women dictate womanhood to transgender women; heterosexual women exclude the needs and concerns of queer women; able-bodied women are condescendingly “inspire by” or otherwise ignore disabled women; white women ignore and exclude the doubled oppression of women of color; non-sex workers paternalistically dictate best livelihood practice for women in sex work; women of the Global North coalesce to save and strip the agency of women in the Global South; and so on. I am not a Feminist because I cannot continue to strain my voice pleading for inclusion and consideration from the margins. I am a black feminist, I have no delusions about and will not assert its perfection. I am a black feminist because this gendered way of knowing takes my particular raced-gendered-classed identity into account when naming and describing experiences of oppression: it recognizes the multiplicity of identities that compound gendered oppression, it is intersectional. I am a black feminist because black feminism recognizes the various ways that women navigate the white cisheteropatriarchal capitalist system, the complex kyriarchy that actively subordinates. Whether a woman becomes a sex worker, a mother, a student, a domestic worker, or any other career (these range of options may be greater or lesser given a woman’s socio-economic situation), these choices are all valid. We seek not to judge or deride choices as being “feminist” or not, but rather to maximize women’s agency and put them in a position to have as many options and to make choices as agentically as possible. I am a black feminist because my womanhood and feminine sense of self is strengthened through a diversity of experience, identity, and way of knowing and understanding. This understanding of womanhood is not only raced and classed, but also queered in the recognition of the scapegoating and dismissal of femininity and femmephobia in many communities including queer communities. I am a black feminist because my voice is better spent strengthening and amplifying the epistemologies of other similarly or differently marginalized women operating in and navigating the margins.
Appeared in ISSUE #2
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