A recent Salon article defended Michelle Obama in response to a Politico article attacking her for being a “feminist nightmare.” The Salon article, written by a black woman, basically said, “Back off, white feminists.”
I love this and let me tell you why. I spent three years living in the ghetto, not to “fix the disadvantaged,” but to learn from them and help them; if they wanted help; and on their own terms. This approach was quite successful after I overcame their distrust of white do-gooders.
I cannot think of my black woman friends without smiling. Having been raised with four brothers and twelve boy cousins, I thought I was pretty feisty. My feistiness was only level two and theirs was level 10. They, like I, did not see them selves as victims and they rejected anyone else depicting them that way. Victims are by definition weak and defeated and need rescue. Screw that, they were survivors, no more than that-they were overcomers. If you didn’t like that-well, screw you, too.
I came of age about the same time as Women’s Liberation. As a child I had not been allowed to play in Little League, though the boys lobbied intensely on my behalf because they wanted someone who could actually hit a home run. My attitude to the Little League regime was: “Your loss.”
I affirm that women should be paid equally for the same job and they should have equal opportunity to get ahead.
But I was always amazed that liberating women seemed to assume liberating them to be men! To be even more heartless warmongers, corporate cutthroats and career-obsessed runners on the hedonistic treadmill. When I had kids I consciously decided to stay home and raise them, thus kicking myself out of sync with prevailing feminist goals.
At a party for journalists one night, I was amused that young women approached me to see if I was anyone important. “And what do you do?” they asked. “I stay home and raise my kids,” I answered. The disgust was written all over their face and they soon moved on. I was also an artist, environmental activist and studied philosophy, but they didn’t care to talk to me long enough to find that out. Their loss.
It is pitiful that a Liberation movement should be so narrowly defined. How about this: Real liberation includes respect for each person’s autonomy? Their free will? Their choice to do whatever the heck they want, including staying home to raise their kids?
Liberating someone to slavishly follow your ideology is no liberation at all.