feimineach.com

If I had to pick a couple of myths about the women’s movement that are most wrong, I think two might be tied for worst place. One is that this movement—also known as women’s liberation, feminism, womanism, mujerista, grrrls and more—is only for white, middle-class women. The second is that the need for a movement is over, and we are now in a post- feminist and post-racist age.

From the beginning, the first myth was the opposite of fact. For instance, a 1972 poll by Louis Harris and Associates—the first to survey U.S. women on issues of our own equality—showed that black women were almost twice as likely as white women to support these issues. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. The same could be learned from listening to Shirley Chisholm, or reading Alice Walker or, later, reading Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks or blogs and websites by girls and women of color who are on the cutting edge. That “white, middle-class” claim turned out to be mostly a way of turning women off change. So was its global version: that feminism was a luxury of rich Western countries. As we now see, women’s movements for equality are global and basic, from New Delhi to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from Liberia to Liberation Square.

The second myth is that women of the ’70s did all that could or should be done, and young women can now relax; feminism was their mothers’ movement. Even the abolitionist and suffragist era shows how ridiculous this is. If it took more than a century for black men and all women to gain a legal identity as citizens instead of chattel, it’s likely to take at least a century to gain a legal and social equality as everything from workers to candidates to parents. Even equal pay for women who do the same jobs as white men is still in the future, and parenthood and housework aren’t equal either, to put it mildly. There is also a powerful backlash to the victories won, with right-wing extremists passing misogynist, racist, immigrant-fearing laws in state legislatures, and redistricting their way into control of Congress. This country still profiteers on the underpaid or unpaid work of females, comes near the bottom of modern democracies in electing women to political office and is at the bottom when it comes to child care or family-friendly work policies.

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