My two cents on this fraught subject.
I have always been drawn to feminism.
Its raison d’etre, which is about equality and complete sameness of economic and political conditions between the genders has always had the greatest appeal to me.
As with every paradigm in the west, the gatekeepers have made a point of pushing white feminists to the very forefront, while paying scant (or no) attention to feminists of colour.
And that for the very longest time, shaped my world view on the subject.
A great deal of airtime has been given to the likes of Millicent Fawcett, Mary Wollstonecraft, Emmeline Pankhurst and their work in the suffragette movement.
But we must ask why the same sort of attention wasn’t given to the phenomenally intelligent and politically inclined African-American women, who were extremely active in the abolitionist movement and marched alongside Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison?
Do the names Maria W. Stewart and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper ring a bell?
The former was a profoundly exceptional orator and the latter was preternaturally gifted writer, who should both be listed among the protagonists of the feminism’s first wave.
The thing is, If you aren’t steeped in African-American history, you wouldn’t have heard of those names and it is precisely for that reason that I have embedded an excerpt of a speech Maria Stewart gave in the 1830s on the subject of gender equality and Black women:
I have asked several individuals of my sex, who transact business for themselves, if providing our girls were to give them the most satisfactory references, they would not be willing to grant them an equal opportunity with others? Their reply has been — for their own part, they had no objection; but as it was not the custom, were they to take them into their employ, they would be in danger of losing the public patronage. And such is the powerful force of prejudice. Let our girls possess what amiable qualities of soul they may; let their characters be fair and spotless as innocence itself; let their natural taste and ingenuity be what they may; it is impossible for scarce an…