One woman shares why she prefers to call herself a modern Black feminist but never a superwoman. For more Balancing Act stories, click here.
In my mind feminism is a needed movement that encourages the discussion and creation of methods to peacefully integrate gender equality. It's not about taking men down. It's not about hating men. It's not about removing all phallic symbols from the world. It's about uplifting women and giving them the right to choose. That said, one of the things I choose not to be is the "Superwoman," this amazing creature, that woman who does it and has it all: career, family, culinary skills, cleans and looks flawless at all times. I boycotted her IPO and refuse to invest in the stock.
I started using the word feminist when I was 11-years-old because I realized that Claire Huxtable was a character. I wrote an essay, "Fix Your Own Dinner', which basically said females need help, preferably a daily nap time or a personal assistant. At that point I saw many women chasing careers, going to school, being mothers and doing all the domestic work, and all I remember thinking is, "the world is asking too much." When I came out as a feminist to my parents, who are old school Black Nationalists, their first reaction was concern--the feminism movement has historically been associated with racism--then they realized that I was fighting for myself: the modern Black feminist.
In high school I read two books that shaped a lot of my thoughts, "When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost" by Joan Morgan and "Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman" by Michele Wallace. Both echoed my inner sentiment that Black women have been neglected, objectified and overworked. When I started college I was brash and enamored with my mission to protect feminine equality, by any means necessary. I was the stereotypical "Hard Core Black Feminist Girl" you'd hear about on any HBCU campus, but that wasn't me. As a true feminist I wanted to embrace every part of who I am and have the freedom to simply be. Today, I still have my big hair, but my approach is much more gentle and ladylike.
I may not be the face of every feminist or Black woman, but I know I represent many of us. I'm educated. I'm witty. I'm intelligent. I'll fight for myself. Thing is, I also like to cook, bake, clean, serve my man and can't wait to bare and nurture a brood of kids. Oh yeah, and I wouldn't mind staying home to raise them and let my husband be the primary breadwinner. I simply want to choose--and be respected. That's the life that I desire, but I also respect another woman's right to choose something different. She may want to work, have a nanny or wish to remain unwed.
Most importantly, I find the inspirational new wave "Ms. Independent" phenomenon troubling now that it's become an extension of the good old faithful Superwoman. The expectation that every young Black woman should have the triple C's --a banging condo, car and career--in order to be considered a good catch is as limiting, sexist and close-minded as thinking only women with light skin and long hair are beautiful. It also reeks of materialism and fosters negative values in our community. Now a sistah doesn't have it going on unless she has a six-figure income, wears size 6 and shops at Gucci? Yeah, she got her own--credit card bills!
I'm a modern-day feminist with traditional values. I don't have hairy armpits. I wear dresses every day. I have a degree. I have a great career. I love to cook. I'm natural nurturer. I don't own a house. I don't drive a luxury car and the only Gucci in my closet was likely a thrift store boon. Luckily, if you add it all up, I'm still a phenomenal woman, but calling me a Superwoman... nah, I'm not having it.
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