Fun fact! There are about 10 different types of onions that exist in the culinary world. True story! There are sweet onions, red onions, shallots and Spanish onions, each of which adds their own distinct flavours, smells and taste to a dish. Each one very different from the other but having the same function. And much like onions, Feminism, as a discipline, theory and school of thought, has several different branches. This week, WE want to expose you to the types of Feminism that have existed throughout time.
Under the Feminism umbrella, there are several iterations that propose varying responses, solutions and perspectives to the problem that is women’s oppression. In episode two, WE described the more well-known types which are Liberal, Radical, Marxist/Socialist, Black, Eco, New Wave and Caribbean. “You see why you can’t trust this feminiblahblah? Look oomuch kinds deh deh (Look how many there are). Yuh nuh see dem confuse (Don’t you see that they’re confused)?”
The thing is, the different kinds of Feminisms were birthed at unique periods of time as a response to the very particular needs and desires of the women in that era and the discrimination they faced. However, as new knowledge and more critical analyses of women’s lived experiences and the structures (the social, political and economic circumstances/barriers) that prevent them from living, well, their best lives, occurred…a newer, more fitting perspective had to be conceptualised. For example, Black Feminism was created to address the cross-cutting discrimination that African-American women faced by including race as politics in the mix. It was a revolutionary and critical move for Black women who could not find a community among White feminists (*cough*
White Feminism*cough*) or Black men who were political activists during the Civil Rights Movement. In the same breath, Caribbean feminists (And feminists from other Global South or formerly colonised nations) had to carve out space for themselves within Feminism to accurately represent their realities. For us, geopolitics, globalization and the impact of colonialism are significant when discussing the unique experiences of Caribbean women and their ability to navigate their home countries and the world.
So…no. Feminism as theory, politics and discipline is not cOnFuSeD. What it has done, specifically Black and Caribbean Feminism (WE make no apologies about where WE fall), is allowed us space and a base for which to constantly critique institutions, even the different Feminist leanings, and to constantly insert ourselves and our communities into the conversation. Marxist Feminists asked us to look beyond the individualism promoted by Liberal Feminists toward women’s labour under a capitalist structure. Black Feminists asked us to critique our societies through race, gender, class and sexuality lenses and Caribbean and Global South Feminists asked us to include colonialism and globalization inna the pot!
Stay with us where next week WE tackle the myths around Feminism!
- For a quick read: http://www.gender.cawater-info.net/knowledge_base/rubricator/feminism_e.htm
- For a deeper read: “The Variety of Feminism and their Contribution to Gender Equality” http://oops.uni-oldenburg.de/1269/1/ur97.pdf
- Defining Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/modern/Defining-Black-Feminist-Thought.html