I was invited on the ultra conservative One America News Network via Skype to discuss the women’s rights protest in Iran and the perceived silence by the Women’s March organizers and American liberal feminists, which kicked off the same day the #TimesUp campaign launched. The exchange got a bit exciting between Tipping Point host, Liz Wheeler, as we debated the current state of affairs amid sexual harassment allegations against men in Hollywood, corporate America, news and the Hill. My interest and goal for the segment was for it to be a constructive conversation where I could share my personal perspective. And while I believe it mostly went that way, there were moments of intensity where my passion and convictions surfaced. Not to mention a temporary halt in the Skype communication, helped facilitate some mishearings. And you know how that goes.
There should be no doubt I am ALL for the women of Iran protesting for their rights and their freedom to take off hijab. I am all for women all over the world taking to the streets, liberal or conservative. To be clear, I’m not a formal member of the liberal, feminist or Women’s March organizations. Do I support their efforts and believe in what they stand for? Yes. I am a Black woman. I am a Latina woman. I am immigrant woman from a communist island nation. Oh, I get it. I am the classic textbook disenfranchised women, albeit educated. I don’t have have the luxury of sitting behind a desk making incendiary propositions. It’s not convenient for me to talk about it because the topic is hot or politically charged. It’s not even convenient because I have a platform. It’s my charge. I have to. I have a voice to use to bring awareness and understanding and encourage action. Because I am that woman.
Where Liz and I disagreed was in response to her idea that liberal feminists are hypocrites only interested in raising Cain for issues important to liberal women. What she grossly failed to acknowledge was the mixed bag of fritos where these two key points ring true, to borrow a current coin from broadcast news. Female conservatives may support Iranian women, but in many instances don’t go up and in arms to rally behind women’s right to choose, LGBTQ’s women’s right to marry or adopt, nor do they actively advocate for women’s advancement in the workplace or paid maternity leave. Those are facts. I’m not sure what Liz was specifically asking of the liberal feminists in response to the Iranian protests. A Twitter statement from the National Women’s Law Center doesn’t seem would be enough. A physical march didn’t seem reasonable. And if it did to her, was her party ready to take to the streets without the invitation or initiation of liberal feminists? Probably not.
If we then consider White American feminists, generally speaking, refuse to leave their safe places in support of Iranian women because they are often unconcerned with the truly oppressed, yet continue to benefit from social justice programs that were meant to benefit minorities, then we can conjecture their accusations this week were more about convenient fodder and not seeded in true, staying power advocacy. In contrast, Black feminists like Cathy J. Cohen and others inform the Black Lives Matter Movement by interweaving feminist theories with theories of racial justice specifically focusing on women of color advancing in academic roles as professors, university presidents, birthing rights, access to healthcare, etc. White American feminists seldom advocate for issues affecting women of color. Not in any consistent way that would suggest their outcry this week is one we should stop and really take heed.
For reference, I speak 3 languages. I’ve travelled the world and have seen the grit of 3rd and 4th world nations and their plight. I’m highly educated. I’m highly skilled and talented. I’m as passionate as they come. Somehow, still, in 2018 I have to prove my worth, my market value, my intelligence, my ability and aptitude, my education, even my race and ethnicity, in order to be considered on the same PAYing field of my counterparts. I don’t have the luxury or a Pass & Go card giving me unquestionable access to the same money and opportunities. I have to work that much harder to be seen. I fight daily for my rights and my freedoms to play fair and have equal opportunities. It’s my reality. It’s also my oppression. But I get that may too strong of a word for the Wheelers of the world.
#MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are in response to the center of the harassment charges. Follow the conversation on Twitter.
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