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I Am Not A Feminist

deeandlouI am not a feminist.  For one thing, I’ve never really known exactly what the term means.   Thankfully, Murphy at PUMA Pac provided me with a clue by posting this quote:

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
– Rebecca West

While that’s nice to know, I’ve been more inclined to accept the “me, a name I call myself” type labels ever since I first learned the song that line comes from.  Which brings me to another point, if feminist means celebrating the “feminine” that lets me out right there.  I’ve never been, nor wanted to be, “feminine.”  While I’m perfectly comfortable embracing the “female,” “feminine” has always seemed to me to be the definition of  female as “less than,” and I can’t go for that.   The “just a girl” attitude I’ve always perceived to be associated with the word “feminine” has always pissed me off.

Some might say that’s because I was born gay, but I’m not buying that either.  While I was born gay, I didn’t really recognize that about myself until my mid-twenties, believe it or not, and didn’t really accept it until even later than that.  “Gay” was just not talked about in my house, or anywhere else I was exposed to growing up in the late fifties, early sixties; there were girls, boys and tomboys.  I was a tomboy.  But even once I embraced my lesbianism, actvism was never an option I considered; nobody I cared about, gay or straight,  discriminated against me, and that was all that ever mattered to me.

I feel the same way about my blackness; I’m not militant about it; like being a gay woman, it is simply who I am, who I was born to be.  I’ve always known I was black, everybody in my house was too, even though none of us really have the same hue.   The first time I was aware of it was probably about the same time I realized girls were just as good as boys, about the same time I first heard “doe, a deer…”  Seeing people on TV who were just like everybody else I knew, only a different color, made me ask my mother what was up with that one day around the time I started school.  The nature of society as it was reflected on the news probably had something to do with my racial awakening, but even with all the unrest roiling around the country, to me my blackness was no big deal.  Some people didn’t like girls and tomboys either, but that was their problem.  Politicizing my “me-ness” has always seemed to me to be accepting of other people’s definition of who they think I should be, in fact, in my mind, to be radical about one’s inherent physical qualities requires that one define oneself on others’ terms.

I am a black gay woman.

Deal with it.

But, first and foremost, I am a human being.  On that level, I’ve always been pissed off that some people think they’re better than other people, no matter what the reason.  So what if you’re rich, or white, or smart, or tall, or go to a different church, or pee standing up?  That’s who you are, we either like each other or we don’t; life goes on.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to abide anybody abusing anybody else.  Who do you think you are?  What gives you the right to try to impose your will on somebody else?  What makes you think you can hit, or hurt, or be mean to another person just because you’re mad about who they are?  Because that’s what just about all conflict comes down to.  We get mad at our lovers, spouses, friends, children, enemies because they’re not who we want them to be at that moment.  The same is true for religion; you don’t worship the way I think you should so I hate you, you’re not the right kind of believer.   You don’t drive the way I think people should drive so screw you, you’re not the driver I want you to be.  You’re gay, you’re white, you’re stupid, you’re wrong.  For some reason, too many of us think some aspect, any aspect, of other people’s reality is subject to our approval.

So people around the world blow other people up because they exist in places they don’t want them to be, people dedicate their lives to trying to force other people to behave according to the standards of their “one God who loves everybody the way they are,” people shoot other people because they own things they want and don’t want other people to have, people invent ways to hurt other people for being who they are.  And nobody ever stops to consider how silly it all is.

A man wants a woman to behave the way he wants her to; he wants what he wants, when she won’t allow it, he shoots her in the face with a shotgun.  That is the way he is.  He has done things like that before, if not stopped, he will do it again.  But, how do you stop him without becoming like him?  If you do, when will the cycle stop?  Because he hurts the woman, the people who love her will want him to be hurt the same way, that’s human nature.  But, no matter how unreasonable he is and always has been, somebody loves him, too.  And, even if they don’t love him, if he is hurt in return, some who identify with him will take up his cause and hurt people on his behalf.  Which will of course require further retaliation; and so on, and so on…Ongoing wars that began millenia ago have been started in much the same way, many feuds, fights, turf wars, etc., have been started for less.

And, that is not the way we should be.  But, what to do?  No one should bear the pain of losing a family member, let alone two, to someone else’s ego-driven rage of insecurity.  We can never, ever expect anyone to accept that kind of injustice.  Their anguished howls of outrage and pain are outrageous and painful to all who hear them, and if they are unbearable for those of us not directly affected, and they are, we can only imagine the depths of the despair they feel, which anguishes us even more.  Never would I suggest that anyone in that situation simply “take it” in the name of “getting along,” or “stopping the cycle.”   But my outrage, pain and anguish is not because I empathize with another woman, but because she’s a human being.

As am I.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as long as we, as a global society, a human family, approach our attempts at conflict resolution as feminists, blacks, gays, Christians, Jews, Muslims, whites, Democrats, Republicans, or any other kind of “-ists” “-isms” “-ians,” or “-ites,” we’re doomed to perpetual warfare, personally, nationally, politically, and ethnically.  Until we see ourselves and others as what we are, human beings, there’s no hope for any of us.

My thoughts and prayers go out to fellow PUMA Betty Jean Kling and her daughters, Denise Richardson and Louisa Richardson-Rodas.  May God bless them and show them mercy.  I support her in all her endeavors to seek justice for her family and all who have ever, or might ever, find themselves in a similar situation, which is, unfortunately, all of us.

This angry, black, lesbian, Baptist human being reaches out with open arms to another human being suffering a fate no one should ever have to even contemplate, and offers her and her family love.

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.

Though we have never met, Betty Jean, this post goes from my heart to yours.

If I have trivialized, misrepresented, sensationalized, or offended you in any way, please accept my humble apologies.

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