Ain’t I A Woman Conference, Galapagos Art Space, NYC
Photo by Mimiko Watanabe + Christian Silva
I have been blessed to have a supportive group of family and friends who have respected my political beliefs and activism over the years. Sure, I have been challenged, my political stances have been questioned, and I have changed my mind regarding opinions I have had in the past-but never have I been told that I was a racist man-hating feminist… until now.
Part of my activism includes sharing pieces of myself so that others may understand the causes that I-and many others-fight for. So, for the person (or perhaps people) out there who believe that I am a radical, racist, man-hating feminist, here is my truth.
Feminism didn’t take me in like some sort of freakish cult and spit me out into a feminazi, bra-burning, hairy-legged lesbian. It hasn’t taught me to believe that I should hate men, or white people, or the very wealthy. Feminism, as a great friend and colleague says, has been hearing my pain, struggles and experiences in another person’s voice and realizing there is nothing wrong with me.
The feminist movement provided me with the words to talk about the brutal murder of my close friend by her ex-boyfriend. It allowed me to understand that getting roofied by a mentor at Lehman’s Brothers was not my fault rather it was the consequence of a larger system that excuses violence committed on women’s bodies. It was feminist activists in college who told me it was okay to love men and women, and antiracist activists who allowed me to appreciate the color of my skin and natural hair despite the hatred I experience because of it.
Like most people, the process of finding this level of self-appreciation and strength has not been easy, and the feminist community hasn’t always been perfect. Yet, contrary to some people’s beliefs, feminism allowed me to respect all people, to fight for peace, to act out of love instead of anger, and to extend a hand, smile or provide a stage for someone else to speak their own truth and reclaim their power.
There may always be those who hold hatred towards another group simply because of the color of their skin, their gender and/or sex, their wealth or poverty, but that simply isn’t me. I understand that each person has different realities. Through my activism, I not only try to respect and honor the different needs of individuals, I also try to find ways in which we can all work together to create transformative change.
For all those interested in watching the superbowl tonight, make sure you grab your computers as well and follower the hastag #femsuperbowl for feminist updates and responses.
More discussion to come…
Part of the beauty (or curse depending on how you see it) of being an activist is finding creative ways to make money.
I’ve started a B&B in New York City, painted entire houses to get reduced rent, founded an online marketing firm, and written travel blogs so that I could travel for free. Yesterday evening, I became a hostess for a Malibu Christmas party to start paying for a new engine for our Suzuki Sidekick.
I am use to hosting people and working with clients needs, but for some reason, this experience was different.
Most of the guests were appreciative and impressed with the work that we were doing. That being said, there were those few who couldn’t get up and help themselves (serving was not in our job description) and instead thrusted their cups in our faces with a “Water” or “Wine” or “Spoon.” There were also those few who were rude until they realized we lived in the Malibu area, had a successful marketing firm and were there to help the host, a family friend.
At one point, a guest said, “you guys are too good to be doing this kind of work.” Does that mean that people who work their butts off serving others are not good enough to be the ones at the party?
My goal here is not to bash the hosts or their guests. The point is to acknowledge the disturbing ways workers are often treated when serving people of presumably higher economic classes. No one should be spoken down to because of their assumed status.
Workers are the heartbeat of this country. We need to always remember to treat those who “serve” us with respect and kindness and remember that they are human beings as well.