Feminism vs. Womanism

“A History of Feminist Movements in the U.S.” is a tour through time of what women have went through for their rights. These were women who fought the struggle and won rights that have improved the lives of women today. Anna Cooper, an educated ex-slave , is one such woman who fought in the movement for all women just not African-American women. She felt that blacks could empower themselves through education and social uplift. She wanted all oppressed women to come together and not just be separated. The NOW, National Organization for Women, helped work for equality in areas such as education, politics, and work. The founder Betty Friedan wrote a book, The Feminine Mystique, which describes the frustration women were feeling then. Women have been feeling frustration for years and even feel it now.

Feminism to some people has become a scapegoat for their problems. This should not be the case. It has been proven through numerous polls that women felt that Feminist activities have helped better the lives for women not hinder. Women for decades have called themselves Feminist as a way of empowerment and lifting them up in the world. It is believed this whole issue of blaming feminism was a way for men to make women think that their own efforts were causing them the problem. Thank goodness there were some women out there who did not believe this and continued the fight for our rights. Luckily today people have come so far and now feminism stands for the equality of women or men. This is one reason why numerous women consider themselves Feminist.

Womanism is a term that has a similar meaning to Feminism but describes all women, career driven and not. Womanism is a term of wholeness that displays women of all age ranges and cultures. This was not the case at first since the term was first used by Alice Walker, meaning Womanism referring to black feminist. Now this title embodies the whole essence of a woman’s being and states to the world she is whom she is no matter if she is rich or poor. Many women feel a drawing to this title more than Feminist because of stigmatism to the word.

Sadly Feminist are usually considered lesbians or gay. This is a slight misconception feminism has gotten. Just because a person stands up for their rights and decides they are not going to take a back seat to mistreatment and unequal laws does not has to do with their sexual preference. The women of “The Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, 1848” were standing up and saying that women were equal to men in every way. These women considered themselves pioneers for bringing forth all the discontent of numerous women who could not speak out for fear. Sojourner Truth made her infamous speech “Ar’ n’’t I a woman” She was a leading African-American who was not scared to prove she was as good as a man.

In today’s society we do have it a little easier than our ancestors. We can fight for our rights in a court of law and can actually win, since we have the law on our side. We can proclaim we are a Feminist or a Womanist and be happy in the knowledge that we are making the women who came before us proud. Whether a person considers themselves either one the main thing to keep in mind is to always stand up for your rights and to not feel intimidated. Women in a whole have come a long way and we should be proud of all the accomplishments and prepare the generation after us to lead the future.

by Sherita Smedley