I’m a black woman of a certain age, a divorced mom of two teenagers who has no choice but to focus daily on the challenges of keeping a home, my family and myself on track. I’m college-educated, work in media communications, am precariously middle-class — and I am tired of what I witness of today’s feminism.
I’d hoped that the Women’s March might help me update my perception of feminism, at least as it is commonly portrayed and disseminated of late.
I’d followed the back and forth in the alternative and mainstream press during its hurried, urgent formation, and chalked up reports about internal squabbles over the race and class makeup of the group’s leadership to the same kind of growing pains that beset every activist group that I’ve ever followed or covered during my years in newsrooms. But now, a month after the Women’s March masterfully pulled off a massive protest in D.C. that also inspired similar ones in major American and global cities, my nascent investigation of the March 8 ‘general strike’ and 'day without women’ raised only more concerns, and a few questions, all located in what I see as a big void in today’s marketing-driven expression of 'feminism.’
At this moment, whether expressed by the second-wave, Gloria Steinem wing, or the third-wave corporatist Sheryl Sandberg arm, or the rowdy, genitalia-obsessed Lena Dunham arm, it seems that 'feminism’ in 2017 is more concerned with promoting superficial trappings of genuine equality than with doing the tough work required to address the hard, cold facts of gender and racial inequality.
The messages that landed in my inbox, Twitter mentions and even my newsroom mailbox became more vitriolic as November approached. Increasingly, it wasn’t what I wrote that angered these readers; it was that I wrote it while being me. It felt like they read my byline, saw my photo, barely skimmed what I wrote, and decided I was incompetent because I’m a 28-year-old Asian woman.
An email calling me the c-word was the first thing I read when I woke up one morning. One night after dinner, my phone buzzed with a Twitter mention from someone wishing I were sent to an internment camp (I’m not Japanese). Many emails began with, “Ni hao” (I’m not Chinese). I even learned a new slur word that I had to look up in the Urban Dictionary — but will refrain from sharing here.
“Who knew that ‘happy endings’ at the local DC Chinese owned massage parlor could earn you a press pass and journalistic credential? … Perhaps you are better suited for rolling egg rolls and making wonton soup. Get off your knees and go back to the kitchen.”
At first, I didn’t respond to any of them. But when I started getting so many so often, I couldn’t ignore them anymore. So I started asking questions.
We stood up for what was right.
We fought for moral reasons.
We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons.
We waged wars on poverty, not poor people.
We cared about our neighbors.
We put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest.
We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy.
We reached for the stars, acted like men.
We aspired to intelligence.
We didn’t belittle it.
It didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t– we didn’t scare so easy.
Ahem, we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed.
By great men, men who were revered.
The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.
America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.