Black Women Are Not Feeling the Feminists’ Pain

Is the sisterhood in peril?


Note to Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steinem, and complainer in chief, Hillary Clinton: Get over yourselves.

Your cries of reverse racism, your complaints about overt sexism in the campaign, your vocal protests about media favoritism being shown BarackObama, ring hollow.

We are not feeling your pain. None of you are symbolic of female oppression. You are all well-educated and well-connected. You are influential and have ready access to the media. You have had more opportunities than most black women could ever dream of and we doubt you could ever relate to the level of sexism and racism we regularly face. We know you couldn’t even begin to understand what it’s like for black men.

Last time we checked, none of you were struggling with the challenges that average working women – both black and white – deal with everyday: making ends meet, finding safe and affordable childcare, paying the rent or mortgage, getting jobs that pay a living wage and offer opportunities for advancement. Amid all of this, regular working women are trying to find personal fulfillment and build a sense of self.

You privileged ladies already have a huge sense of self, and an even bigger sense of entitlement. Your words have only served to widen the divide between us and you, and your faulty and misguided perspective that Obama, a black man, is the enemy only serves to underline the divide.

Obama is not getting a free pass because he’s black; he’s getting more scrutiny because of it. He did not get where he is simply because he’s a black man; he got where he is in spite of it. Your piling on Obama is one very warped expression of “girl power.”

Somehow we don’t believe this was what Betty Friedan was thinking when she wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and launched the modern women’s movement. The movement was built on the premise that women were smarter than men believed, wanted more than men felt they deserved, were more ambitious than men were comfortable with, and had dreams bigger than the boundaries men set for them. It was about being politically affirming, not politically divisive.

The movement was not about being nasty, and calculating, and intellectually dishonest. And it was definitely not about playing dirty politics – like men. You make us wonder if you ever were really one of us now that we clearly see you have become one of “them.”

Hillary Clinton, earlier in the campaign you complained that your Democratic opponents were “piling on” and “taking a page from the Republican playbook.” The truth is you’ve taken a page directly from Karl Rove’s playbook and appropriated his defining doctrine of win at any cost, take no prisoners, and when everything else fails, resort to shameless race baiting. How unoriginal.