ENCOURAGING THE F WORD
If you keep up with my Twitter then you already know what the daily conversation consists of: sinvergüencería , women's issues, the ratchet shit that we all know and love, talks about the Universe, some hardcore feminism and of course, Twitter threads about all the things that are wrong with men. These conversations are usually sparked by the problematic things I read on my timeline and provide a platform for the conversations I feel we need to have more often. While it can become exhausting to deal with the presence of rape-culture, the phenomenon that is ‘Pick-Me’ Twitter, and the people who quite simply hate women — these uncomfortable moments are paving the way for discussions like the one I’d like to have today.
I want to talk about how F is for feminism but why it’s also for men.
Let’s start off with the fact that I actually don’t hate men. Sometimes, I am exhausted by them and very confused by their train of thought, but I do not hate them. As a young, working class, woman of color I am on the receiving end of a lot of subconscious judgement and prejudices and I try my best not to do this to other people and lump folks into a category without getting to know their own story. So no, I don’t hate men. You’ll frequently read my opinions on their behavior and might get the feeling that I’m angry but please don’t mislabel my frustration as anger. If I’m angry at anything it’s the fact that the men who constantly share their dangerous, sexist views on social media aren’t more like the men in my own life. I can’t wrap my brain around some of the harmful ideas I've read about women's bodies and our right to self-expression. Some of it rocks me to my core because I have always been surrounded by men who are supportive of my expression and supportive of my radical feminism. And a degree of this radical feminism is rooted in the idea that men are also harmed by the way our societies condemn women and femininity. So I’ll put on for y’all too.
I have often said that real feminism is for men too. What I mean by real feminism is the idea that anyone who identifies as a woman and/or supports women needs our support. Real feminism defends women of color, trans women, disabled women, sex workers, the woman whose husband has multiple wives, the woman who doesn’t want children, victims, full figured women and it’ll make an effort to understand the different ways women are empowered throughout many different cultures and societies. Real feminism looks for ways to provide an equal amount of respect and empathy for all women, not for ways to condemn men or make them feel less-than. Personally, this leaves little room for me to spend time thinking of all the ways men have ‘wronged’ me and it would be a waste of my time to react to the world from this POV. Let it be know that I am so happy to have been born a woman, it is a blessing and the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.
I celebrate this gift at every chance I get and a part of this celebration is being ‘motherly’ and falling into the natural rhythm of femininity and caring for things and especially for the minds of those around me. I feel that I am most powerful and potent when I use my creativity to express my emotions — two things that are attributed to divine feminism. I think men should be encouraged to tap into these emotional, creative spaces without having someone side eye them. I have created such great things from this space of vulnerability and men deserve the right to visit this place without judgement.
So my feminism is for men too because I’m tired of the world telling you not to be emotional — as if you don’t deserve to express your sorrows, disappointments and frustrations. My feminism is for men too because you live in a world where you are mocked for being open or vulnerable and I’m tired of hearing people say ‘boys don’t cry’. My feminism is for men too because so many of you are fighting for the rights of women and the world is that much better for it. My feminism is for men too because there are so many great ones who are objectified and used for their money, cars and status. My feminism is for men too because I think you should be able to go to brunch with your male friends without people questioning your sexuality. My feminism is for men too because gay men have to deal with the mindless rage of the ignorant people who are afraid to see feminine qualities in men. My feminism is for men too because transgender men deserve to feel secure in their masculinity without people comparing their bodies to the one they left in the past. My feminism is for men too because not every outcry of rape is true and men, especially men of color have fallen victim to blind persecution. My feminism is for men too because a lot of the time the patriarchy is insidiously working against you.
And my feminism is especially for black and latinx men because you are my other half. We belong to one another, for better or worse. While I am a multi-cultural person and think that we should date whoeverrrr we want, I often consider the disparities in upbringing that exist between different cultures. I don’t have a type but if there’s 1 thing that I need in a partner — it’s a similar view of the world. I’m not saying that we need to have the same beliefs because that’s too boring for me but if we’re being realistic then I need a partner who understands the hardships that I go through because of my culture or the color of my skin. We owe one another so much and I want to see us honor one another more often and for no particular reason at all. Can you imagine what the world would be like if black men loved black women unconditionally and if black women loved black men unconditionally? We would form a solidarity so secure that outsiders would have no choice but to honor us for exactly what it is that we are. ‘Lightskin vs darkskin’ would be in the trash where it belongs and unhealthy stereotypes about Latina’s and Asian women would probably start to crumble too. It starts with us. We set every single trend, every one of them. And this includes issues of social reform.
So fellas where’s the love for dark skinned women and 4C kinks? I know y’all love curly hair but do you love all curly hair? I know y’all love a brown woman but do you also love the deeper shades of our rich, earthy hue? Do you love the big fines the way you love slim thicks? Do you recognize that Cardi B and Solange deserve our utmost respect because they both stand so firm in their womanhood? Do you respect a woman’s right to choose what she wears and to choose whether or not she wants to be pregnant? Do you acknowledge us as individuals with thoughts and aspirations of our own? Do you realize that everything we do is actually not for men and that we are autonomous beings with a right to express ourselves in whatever manner we see fit? Do you show up for the young women in your life? Do you teach your daughters, nieces, and sisters to walk proudly and to challenge rigid beauty standards and a culture that says ‘she shouldn’t have been wearing that’? Are you doing your best to challenge rape-culture? How are you paying back all the women of color who boldly demand that this country change the way it treats you? Are you putting on for all the women of color who have risked their safety for a chance to cry ‘Black Lives Matter’ to the world every time one of you have been murdered by law enforcement? Are you putting on for your mom? It’s always deeper than rap and we should reach those depths together.
The road is long and we’re unlearning so many old and rigid ways of living. I know that sometimes it’s hard to understand the way the other feels but what I’m trying to say is that between US — there is no other. At the end of the day it’s us vs them — the us being all marginalized people and the them being the privileged folks who think that we don’t deserve opportunity, justice and abundance. Women have always been the backbone of the civil rights movements in this country, we provide a creative and fluid approach to the issues that have plagued the black community for generations. When we are empowered, we empower. I believe that feminism is so important for men of color because our family dynamic is usually centered around a matriarch. Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and female friends are notorious for teaching life lessons to young men of color. I have heard countless stories from my male friends where they recount the times that women have coached them through their complacency, their anger and even helped them through trauma.
Feminism makes it possible for young black men to grow up with a single mother and become the incredible icons that we admire today. Both Barack Obama and Jay-Z were raised by their single mothers. These two black men have beat out the odds and are such an important part of history and make me so incredibly proud to be a black woman. The way Obama and Jay-Z (we know Jay took a little longer but let us live) love, honor and support their wives and put on for their daughters is the hallmark of a man who has been raised with a positive attitude towards women. I wish the public could see this aspect of our relationship and I wish this was showcased in our music, tv and movies much more often but the world is changing for the better and I know it’s only a matter of time. I want to see more of this. I’m ready for it. Feminism makes it possible because it says it’s okay for you to share that your masculinity is strengthened by our femininity. We are two sides of the same coin. We are made of one another and for one another.
So I would like to see more healthy debates that don’t end in troll tweets. I would like to see more discussions about a woman’s right to choose her lifestyle. I think that when we present our genuine feelings to our oppressor they are forced to reflect on their behavior and being that men of color also experience oppression — I think this honest dialogue makes it’s that much easier for them to see how some of their behavior may unintentionally harm us. But then there’s the issue of vulnerability being a sign of weakness in men. Feminism erases the idea that the things you do deplete your masculinity, the same way it erases the idea that a woman’s value is depleted by her sexual experiences.
We need to make space for one another, however, the oppressor should always yield to the oppressed and I hope that in the near future we can have open discussions with men about how they actively and inactively contribute to rape-culture. I hope we can talk about how some things they perceive to be social norms are really misogynistic and harmful. I hope that we can talk about the way my short shorts aren’t an invitation for you and how sometimes your presence is domineering and can cause fear. I hope that we can talk about how opportunity favors men and how it’s evident in places like the food industry where most notable chefs are men, while our society tells us a woman’s place is in the kitchen. I hope we can talk about why women are afraid to walk home alone and why we don’t normally talk to strangers without anyone saying ‘not all men’. We know it’s not all of you and those who aren’t the problem need to help us address it and not deflect. We’re in this together.
Your masculinity is determined by no one but yourself! Feminism reinforces that idea — feminism says that you and you alone can define your value and that your behavior and lifestyle aren’t a tool for others to use in attempt to gauge your worth. Feminism is for everyone. Feminism will remove you from the binds of having to act a certain way to ‘get the girl’, it says that no, you aren’t emasculated if you don’t pay for dinner. Feminism says that you don’t always need to shrink yourself in order to make a woman happy. Feminism says that it’s okay for you to have interests in a diverse range of things, not just sports. Feminism says that you don’t have to measure your worth as a man by the amount of money you have, how low you sag, how many women you sleep with or how what type of car you have. Feminism wants you to be exactly who you are and to be genuine so that you might find freedom in this act of self-love and be inspired to permit others the same liberating feeling: regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or any of that other mumbo jumbo we still trippin’ about.
Feminism isn’t a means to suppress your masculinity or the male experience.
Feminism is not an attempt to denounce men or make you feel unimportant, unwanted or useless. Those are all things that we ourselves experience in a male dominated world. We simply want the world to be a safe place for women, somewhere that we can have open dialogue about the things that we go through, the people in our lives and our bodies and emotions. Feminism wants to create a space in which femininity is celebrated just as masculinity. I want to live in a world where women are honored and protected, a world where my sexuality isn’t a factor in determining whether or not I should be protected and moreover, a world where I can raise my future daughter with peace of mind knowing that there is no longer anything to protect her from.
This world is possible, it is truly only a matter of time and as I mentioned before — we are two sides of the same coin. Things like misogyny provide safety net for things like racism to fall back on. The moment that men of color start demanding respect for women of color — they themselves will benefit from this respect. I think that you are what you repeatedly do and if mutual respect is a thing within our own community then the energy that we give off will truly be something to behold. We were kings, as cliche as that may sound.. we are the descendants of kings and queens who were well aware of the importance of women empowerment. I guess life is like chess after all, the person who knows to protect the queen usually has an easy advantage over the one who doesn’t. It’s about time we walk the walk that we so effortlessly talk. We won’t be free until each of us is free and feminism wants break those chains for us. It’s only a matter of time…
So lets encourage the F word, so that our brothers, fathers, bodega owners, kid neighbor and future community leaders understand that Feminism is not just for women, but it's for them too.
image credit: pinterest