Despite a society hellbent on silencing their stories, there will always be nasty women, fragile women, slutty women…difficult women.Roxane Gay’s “Difficult Women” went to print at a time when the United States was putting its first female Presidential nominee against its most vehemently and openly misogynistic candidate in this century. To beat that female nominee, the misogynist would use labels: “liar,” “criminal,” “traitor,” and more. The label that would later unite women across the US against him, however, would be “nasty woman.” He would follow up with “lying woman,” “frigid woman,” “man-eating woman,” and “crazy woman” before the end of the election. These labels are the very root of Roxane Gay’s “Difficult Women”, a book about feminine labels, create at a time when the leader of the free world tried so hard to reduce women to labels, and the women found the strength to push them back. In fact, 2017 could be called the “Year of the Difficult Woman”. From the indictment of white women for electing Trump the black women who saved Alabama from itself, the pink pussy-hatted woman, silenced and disrespected women of Congress, as well as the most prominent difficult women, those of the #MeToo movement. The year was all about women marching, speaking up and speaking out against the sexual harassment that men once thought was their birthright. It was as if the Universe had read Gay’s work and decided to have it acted out in a single year. In 21 stories and 256 pages, Gay explores the labels given to women in today’s society when that woman becomes something other than compliant. She takes the label, distorts it with the image of the woman carrying it. That distortion reduces the woman to a character that is still human, but now she is her label but is more palatable to a reader who has been conditioned to NOT see past the label. By the end of the story, the reader has no choice but to see the strength and power that underlies every woman as she struggles under the auspices of the label. The reader must empathize with her or simply gather an understanding and move on. This is how each woman fared in the 21 stories.
If you really want Black women to "save you", do us all a favor and save yourself.Last night, America watched as Alabama held an election as to who would hold the Senate seat. In a close race, Republican Roy Moore lost the race by 20,000 votes to Democrat Doug Jones. So many are stunned by the Democrat victory in a deep red state, but it's not so much who won this Senate race than who is still being fetishized that bothers me. We've seen this spotlighted since the 2016 presidential election — when the poll breakdown by race and gender are published, the numbers confirm what Black women* have known since the dawn of time: we are one of the very few, if not the only, community that has consistently voted in the interest of human rights. Yet, our voting choices has always been weaponized against us; turned around from being an act of self-preservation into one that assuages white folks' racist guilt, giving them an opportunity to "thank Black women for saving [us]". Here's a news flash: We never belonged to you. This morning, my social media was flooded with posts from "well-meaning" to obtuse non-Black folks who mentioned the same fetishizing nonsense we've been seeing since politics turned into a dystopian nightmare for everyone else. Amidst the "Black women saved us," and "Black women voted for us," there's an afterthought of supporting Black women. But these bare minimum posts signal nothing more than finding another way to assert power over Black women. The bar is set on the ground if white folks are using a Senate election as the push they need to finally understand that this country is built on white supremacy. But even more than that, it is no more than an opportunistic ploy to once again treat Black women like the mammies or mules they want us to be. You can set a watch to the timing of white supremacy using Black women for their own means. In centering Black women's voting track record, this means that Black women are collectively robbed of their personal autonomy. When the first thought that comes to the minds of non-Black folks is that anything Black women do is for anyone but themselves, we are moving to take ownership of Black women. Plain and simple. To assert that kind of power over a marginalized group is an extension of the white supremacy that already hangs over our heads.
Is there really such a shortage of upstanding, powerful, white women that your top pick for White Feminist Crusader has to be none other than Clinton, who advocated legally expanding an adapted version of slavery on the basis of abhorrently racist propaganda?Following the indictments served on the Trump administration, Hillary Clinton’s celebrity standing among white feminists has been robustly reinvigorated—particularly after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (oh-so ironically) pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Holding corrupt members of our rotten administration accountable is crucial to the functionality of our government both now and beyond Trump’s presidency. That being said, it isn’t necessary to derail legitimate critiques of Clinton’s political career with unrelated commentaries on the atrociousness of Trump and his administration. It’s no secret that Clinton advocated for an anti-Black “war on crime” in the 1990s, mobilizing the support of her husband’s constituents with aggressively racist language. Critiquing Clinton does not require a critique of Trump. As trans activist Raquel Willis put it, there is little point in “expecting anything different from the Trump administration” when it has long been abundantly clear that its members are not interested in advancing the rights and voices of marginalized folks. We are left to choose between a Democratic candidate and a Republican one each presidential election, and since it’s obvious that one is far less likely to incorporate our interests into policy than the other, it doesn’t make sense to stifle our critiques of the other, particularly when their job is to represent those interests. We are slapped in the face with frequent reminders that white feminists just don’t get it. Case in point: they continue to hail Clinton as a feminist icon nearly a year after the election. If you peruse Twitter, you will find white feminists celebrating Clinton’s (and white womankind’s) vindication by way of Flynn’s indictment.
To be a leftist of color is to open yourself up to insult and attack from different directions, yet, still, we fight for the liberation of every human being. Over the events of the last year or two, being a leftist is