Friday, November 30, 2007

"The Anti-Feminist Manifesto," by Aaminah Hernandez

To me, as a radical feminist of color, I support individuals where I find truth and inspiration. Agreement is not a prerequisite. In fact, the more thoughtful and engaging the argument- regardless of stance - the more intriguing I find it.

Testament to the part of me that forever genuflects before Truth, I post words that I find beautiful, even if I whole-heartedly disagree. With that, here is a strongly written post by Aaminah Hernandez about her anti-feminist identity.

Why I am Not a Feminist, or “My Anti-Feminist Manifesto” 26 11 2007

Preface: I am not at all in this manifesto saying that other women should not use the terms “feminist” or “womanist” or any other term that they choose to own and identify by. I have great respect for many Muslim women who call themselves “Muslim feminists” and for many non-Muslim women of color who self-identify as feminist etc. I am not trying to in any way degrade these women. This manifesto is not about them, but about how I self-identify. Because I seek the right to identify myself by my own terms, I fully respect their right to identify themselves as they see fit as well.

My Anti-Feminist Manifesto
1. Being a woman, and being a woman of color, and being a Muslim, I choose to not be a feminist or in any way have the term feminist applied to my person, my choices, my thoughts, my writings or my art. I reserve the right to self-identify as I see fit and to define myself in relation to my culture and my ideals. I do not wish to take on the terminology of another’s movement nor bend it or re-invent it to suit my own.
a. As a Muslim, I believe that Islam is the answer for everything. I believe that we have been given the tools with which to free ourselves from oppression here on earth, and I do not find those tools lacking.
b. I do not feel compelled to look to other cultures to find the answers to my problems. Feminism as it began in a movement by and for middle and upper class white women offers me nothing. It is not my desire to take their movement and somehow prove that my movement is the same. It is not. Theirs has its role in their lives, and mine is different.
c. As a woman of color and as a Muslim, I choose to rely upon my own cultural interpretations. This means that while others may think something in my lifestyle is oppressive, I am free to choose what I feel oppressed by and not to agree with outsiders’ application of the term. For example, while many well-meaning women of color would like to champion my right as a Muslim woman to lead prayers, that is not something I need or want. This is a “right” that they feel I need because it is in tune with their own lifestyle but it is not a right I desire.

2. I reserve the right to say that my writing and art is not feminist and that I don’t care to have it limited to such terms and conditions as feminism defines.
a. My writing and art belongs to me. I feel no shame in defining it by my own terms and not considering it feminist, womanist or in keeping with any particular movement.
b. While others may be inspired by it and relate it to their feminism or other movement, I do not feel compelled to limit myself to their terms.
c. I reserve the right to publish my writing as I see fit. I doubt it will ever appear in avowedly “feminist” publications or anthologies because that is not the crowd I prefer to engage nor something I care to align myself with.

3. I refuse to participate in the discussion that expects all women to be proud to identify as feminist, to challenge the “white” notions of what feminist thought is or is not, or to tell other women of color that they are unaware of their role and the oppression they are under because they do not self-identify as feminist.
a. I am an intelligent woman who is fully aware of the effects of colonialization and oppressions upon my peoples and upon myself. I am not ignorant of how I am used by those who wish to further their own cause, nor am I ignorant of how others see me or attempts to keep me down.
b. I do not need other women of color to “save” me any more than I need white women or men to do so. While I engage with other women and support them to do what they need to do for their own improvement, I expect them to support me to do what I need to do for mine. By support, I mean “stand back and let me do my thing”. The best support we can offer each other is to be there with requested resources when asked but not to attempt to take over or impose our own ideas upon another.
c. I am capable of thinking and speaking for myself. I do not ask anyone to speak on my behalf or to make my speech more palatable to others. I say it like it is - you choose whether you want to listen or not.

4. Why I despise the feminist movement and do not care to be a part of it.
a. I am tired of women of color being pitted against men of color because of this mis-notion that allegiance to other women is all that matters.
b. I do not need to make the movement mine. It’s not mine, it never will be mine. I have my own movement that is in line with my Islamic beliefs and values. Western style feminism, by any name it is called, is a secular order that seeks to wipe out my spirituality and force me to selfishly over-emphasize women to the detriment of others.
c. I do not feel the need to make myself a part of something where I am not wanted. It is my personal belief that women of color trying to stuff ourselves into the feminist movement does us an injustice. We do not need to broaden the acceptance of our experience into formal feminist theory. We do not need to make feminism “our own”. We can create our own revolutions, not jump on the bandwagon of that of another and then cry when we are pushed off.
d. I am not academic, have never “studied” feminist theory and do not even care to know most of the ridiculous terminology and theories that abound. I know my reality as a poor, Muslim, Native American woman in the U.S.A. I don’t need fancy theories to explain it. I don’t need my experiences to be supported by the experiences of others or to be validated by academia.

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