Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.
The Combahee River Collective, for example, was made up of women who were veterans of the Black Panther Party and other antiracist organizations.
Black feminists such as Angela Davis contested the theory and practice of white feminists who failed to address the centrality of racism. Her book also examines the ways in which the issues of reproductive rights and rape, in particular, represent profoundly different experiences for Black and white women because of racism.
Each of these is examined below. Davis argues that the history of the birth control movement and its racist sterilization programs necessarily make the issue of reproductive rights far more complicated for Black women and other women of color, who have historically been the targets of this abuse.
Racist population-control policies left large numbers of Black women, Latinas, and Native American women sterilized against their will or without their knowledge. In , an Alabama court found that between , and , poor Black teenagers were sterilized each year in Alabama. The s and s witnessed an epidemic of sterilization abuse and other forms of coercion aimed at Black, Native American, and Latina women—alongside a sharp rise in struggles against this mistreatment.
A s study showed that 25 percent of Native American women had been sterilized, and that Black and Latina married women had been sterilized in much greater proportions than married women in the population at large. By , one-third of women of childbearing age in Puerto Rico—still a US colony—had been permanently sterilized. Yet mainstream white feminists not only ignored these struggles but also added to the problem. In , for example, a time when Native Americans and other women of color were struggling against coercive adoption policies that targeted their communities, Ms.
Wade decision was of paramount importance to all women and the direct result of grassroots struggle. Because of both the economic and social consequences of racism, the lives of Black women, Latinas, and other women of color were most at risk when abortion was illegal. Before abortion was made legal in New York City in , for example, Black women made up 50 percent of all women who died after an illegal abortion, while Puerto Rican women were 44 percent. That victory however was accompanied at the end of that decade by the far less heralded but equally important victories against sterilization abuse, the result of grassroots struggles waged primarily by women of color.
In , the federal government conceded to demands by Native American, Black, and Latina activists by finally establishing regulations for sterilization.
These included required waiting periods and authorization forms in the same language spoken by the woman agreeing to be sterilized. Had they done so, they might have understood why so many of their Black sisters adopted a posture of suspicion toward their cause. But rape also has had a toxic racial component in the United States since the time of slavery, as a key weapon in maintaining the system of white supremacy. Laboring in the fields or in the homes, men and women were equally dehumanized and brutalized. The caricature of the virtuous white Southern belle under constant prey by Black male rapists had its opposite in the promiscuous Black woman seeking the sexual attention of white men.
Brownmiller was not alone in failing to challenge racist assumptions about rape, with the consequence of reproducing them. The historical knot binding Black women—systematically abused and violated by white men—to Black men—maimed and murdered because of the racist manipulation of the rape charge—has just begun to be acknowledged to any significant extent. Left-wing Black feminism as a politics of inclusion This article has attempted to show how Black feminists since the time of slavery have developed a distinct political tradition based upon a systematic analysis of the interlocking oppressions of race, gender, and class.
Since the s, Black feminists and other feminists of color in the United States have built upon this analysis and developed an approach that provides a strategy for combating all forms of oppression within a common struggle. Black feminists—along with Latinas and other women of color—of the s era, who were critical of both the predominantly white feminist movement for its racism and of nationalist and other antiracist movements for their sexism, often formed separate organizations that could address the particular oppressions they faced. The end goal was not, however, permanent racial separation for most left-wing Black and other feminists of color, as it has come to be understood since.
Stereotypes and Politics: Reflections on Personas
Barbara Smith conceived of an inclusive approach to combat multiple oppressions, beginning with coalition building around particular struggles. And there are visible changes. Real, tangible, positive changes. This approach to fighting oppression does not merely complement but also strengthens Marxist theory and practice—which seeks to unite not only all those who are exploited but also all those who are oppressed by capitalism into a single movement that fights for the liberation of all humanity.
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The Combahee River Collective, which was perhaps the most self-consciously left-wing organization of Black feminists in the s, acknowledged its adherence to socialism and anti-imperialism, while rightfully also arguing for greater attention to oppression:. We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are socialists because we believe that work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products, and not for the profit of the bosses.
Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and anti-racist revolution will guarantee our liberation….
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At the same time, intersectionality cannot replace Marxism—and Black feminists have never attempted to do so. Intersectionality is a concept for understanding oppression, not exploitation. Most Black feminists acknowledge the systemic roots of racism and sexism but place far less emphasis than Marxists on the connection between the system of exploitation and oppression. Marxism is necessary because it provides a framework for understanding the relationship between oppression and exploitation i.
This is because both exploitation and oppression are rooted in capitalism. Exploitation is the method by which the ruling class robs workers of surplus value; the various forms of oppression play a primary role in maintaining the rule of a tiny minority over the vast majority. In each case, the enemy is one and the same. The class struggle helps to educate workers—sometimes very rapidly—challenging reactionary ideas and prejudices that keep workers divided.
When workers go on strike, confronting capital and its agents of repression the police , the class nature of society becomes suddenly clarified. Racist, sexist, or homophobic ideas cultivated over a lifetime can disappear within a matter of days in a mass strike wave. The process of struggle also exposes another truth hidden beneath layers of ruling-class ideology: as the producers of the goods and services that keep capitalism running, workers have the ability to shut down the system through a mass strike.
Stereotype essay persuasive
And workers not only have the power to shut down the system, but also to replace it with a socialist society, based upon collective ownership of the means of production. Although other groups in society suffer oppression, only the working class possesses this objective power. These are the basic reasons why Marx argues that capitalism created its own gravediggers in the working class. But when Marx defines the working class as the agent for revolutionary change, he is describing its historical potential, rather than a foregone conclusion.
The whole Leninist conception of the vanguard party rests on understanding that a battle of ideas must be fought inside the working class movement. A section of workers won to a socialist alternative and organized into a revolutionary party, can win other workers away from ruling-class ideologies and provide an alternative worldview. As an additive to Marxist theory, intersectionality leads the way toward a much higher level of understanding of the character of oppression than that developed by classical Marxists, enabling the further development of the ways in which solidarity can be built between all those who suffer oppression and exploitation under capitalism to forge a unified movement.
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Female Stereotyping in the Film Industry Essay
Gender and Sexuality. By Sharon Smith. Issue 91 : Features Share. Indeed, Crenshaw uses the following analogy, referring to a traffic intersection, or crossroad, to concretize the concept: Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Yet the court refused to allow the plaintiffs to combine sex-based and race-based discrimination into a single category of discrimination: The plaintiffs allege that they are suing on behalf of black women, and that therefore this lawsuit attempts to combine two causes of action into a new special sub-category, namely, a combination of racial and sex-based discrimination….
Barbara Smith, for example, argued for the inclusion of all the oppressed in a speech, in a clear challenge to white, middle-class, heterosexual feminists: The reason racism is a feminist issue is easily explained by the inherent definition of feminism. The Combahee River Collective, April Quoted, for example, in Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ed. The statement is available online at www. Barbara Smith, ed. See, for example, Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire.
Quoted in Crenshaw, Quoted in Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire , Norton, Available online at www. Combahee River Collective Statement. Coontz, A Strange Stirring , Friedan, The Feminine Mystique , — Angela Y. Brownmiller, Against Our Will , Alice Walker quoted in D. Davis, Women, Race, and Class , — Rickie Solinger, ed. Davis, ed. Guardian US , April 12, , 7.
Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, et al. Davis, Quoted in Davis, Smith, op cit. This subject is a wide but sensitive issue for some, especially those who have been subject to stereotyping themselves. All you need to do is sign-up using your name and e-mail and we will already create your account for you after your first order.
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