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Womanism — The Woman’s Approach.

May 16, 2017 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Womanism is typically described as another form of feminism that places an emphasis on the natural contribution of women in society. The term womanism and feminism are similar but yet very different from one another. The feminist movement was a middle class movement for Caucasian women and they all but included African American women. In the very first wave of feminism, the movement fought for suffrage rights to be granted to white women. The second wave of feminism was intended to fight for cultural and social rights for white women. Feminists in these days and times were considered white women and women of color were not included.

The white women felt as if they joined an alliance with blacks then it would ultimately be a bad look for them and discourage those in power from granting them the rights they felt that they deserved. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. The primary goal of the organization was to achieve voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.

Author Alice Walker has given major credit for coining the term “womanist”. While feminism was alienating especially to African American women womanism allows these women to celebrate and appreciate their color as well as culture. In her book Walker goes on to say that a womanist is: “A woman who loves another woman, sexually and/ or non sexually. She appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility… is committed to the survival and wholeness of an entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically for health… loves the spirit…. loves struggle. Loves herself. Regardless.”

The impact of womanism goes beyond the United States to Africa where many women scholars and literary critics have embraced it as an analytical tool. Womanism was the movement for African American women, they finally had the chance to fight for the equality that they so desperately wanted. This meaning of womanism seems rooted in another major political tradition within African American politics.

African American Women who used the term “black feminism” also attaching varying interpretations to this term. As black feminist theorist and activist Pearl Cleage defines it, feminism is “the belief that women are full human beings capable of participation and leadership in the full range of human activities intellectual, political, social, sexual, spiritual and economic”. In its broadest sense, feminism constitutes both an ideology and a global political movement that confronts sexism, a social relationship in which males as a group have authority over females as a group.

I feel as if the womanist movement was a very strategic and smart move for African American women it gave them a chance to display their beliefs and fight for the things they wanted while also crossing a barrier in the United States. Instead of them trying to join the Caucasian women in the feminist movement they stayed true and refused to form an alliance with them, especially after they alienated them. The womanist movement was a “big thing” for women of color for the first time they came together to make a change throughout society. I feel as if the womanist fought a strong fight but obviously they had more of a challenge getting the things that they wanted.

Alice Walker, who coined the term “womanism,” says that womanists are “committed to the survival and wholeness of an entire people.” Womanism focused on women of color they were very upset when they were given the name womanist they felt that they were feminists and that the name should not have to differ just because they were not white women. To say that feminism is only for a certain group of women is outrageous, at the end of the day they are all women no matter their color, shape, or view. Both feminism and womanism are dedicated to establishing both equal opportunities and equal rights for women no matter their ethnicity.

Staff Writer; Myra Moore

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