Yes, All Women: A Historical Analysis Of Exclusionary Feminism
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Yes, All Women: A Historical Analysis Of Exclusionary Feminism

The ways in which feminism has historically excluded black women

515
Yes, All Women: A Historical Analysis Of Exclusionary Feminism
Wikimedia Commons

In 1848, a revolution was started by a young housewife by the name of Elizabeth Cady and her friends. While sitting around and drinking tea, the women expressed deep dissatisfaction with the limitations placed upon them as women. That conversation gave life to the Woman's Rights Movement that lasted until 1998 and has inspired contemporary movements by women to demand equal footing with men. We are living in the legacy of five revolutionary women that met over tea. But, much like during the tea meeting of 1848 – women of color are often excluded from these conversations.

In contemporary contexts, narratives about white supremacy have been shaped by the overwhelmingly masculine lens, ignoring the agency and participation of white women in perpetuating white supremacy and legalized segregation. Even in fighting for the rights of women (seemingly as a whole), some influential figures managed to sustain white supremacy at local and national levels.

(KKK women blinded from burning crosses in 1956)

During the 2016 election between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, many women swarmed to the graves of Susan B. Anthony and her white peers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Carrie Chapman Catt, who were instrumental in securing voting rights for white women in 1920. While these figures were instrumental to the woman's suffrage movement, they were known to leave black women out of the narrative. Susan B. Anthony famously stated, “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman" after the ratification of the 15th Amendment, securing voting rights for men of all races. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Women Suffrage Association, commented that “[Congress has] put the ballot in the hands of black men, thus making them political superiors of white women. Never before in the history of the world have men made former slaves the political masters of their former mistresses!" The suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt in the early 20th century argued for women's voting rights in Southern states on the basis that “white supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by white women's suffrage."

(Women's Suffrage League, West Virginia University, 1920)

Even more telling is the fact that the 1920s marked the emergence of the Women of the Klu Klux Klan out of a climate of hopefulness when women felt emboldened to take part in civic life. Composed of school teachers, midwives, social workers, as well as a wealth of other professions, white women shaped the way segregation, white supremacy and ideas about racial identity were knitted into the fabric of their communities.

According to Kathleen Blee in “Women of the Klan", if the WKKK was more successful in advancing their xenophobic agenda, it was because they were better than the men's group at hiding their white supremacist mission behind a facade of social welfare. “Are you interested in the Welfare of our Nation? Should we not interest ourselves in better education for our children?" their pamphlets read. And, as the 1920s came to a close, there was no doubt that the women continued to spread their ideologies into other forms of civic engagement, such as school boards and local and national politics.

(Masked women, members of the new Dixie Protestant Women's Political League, an order closely modeled after the Ku Klux Klan, which has been organized in Atlanta, GA., and charactered in the courts of Fulton County, astonished the city last Tuesday evening by parading through the streets, garbed in full regalia, behind an escort of mounted police.)

(K.K.K. Arrive at Washington. Photo shows women members of the Klan from Lancaster County Pa.)

I'd like to argue that it's because, historically, black womanhood was seen as an oxymoron. With the construction of the southern white woman came the illustration of her polar opposite; the black woman. While the victorian/colonial standard of true womanhood for white women included ideals surrounding chastity, black women were stereotyped as the exact opposite: seductive, alluring, lewd, and even predatory.

These are not characteristics of what women were thought to be and immediately kept the black women in a position of other-ness. Also, racism and white supremacy benefit white women in ways that override their dedication to any form of solidarity with people of color. Black women were excluded in discourse surrounding race and symbolic “sisterhoods." Because of their invisibility and neglect in the woman's movements of their time, black women looked to organizations, activists, and schools that took their consideration to heart.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

71354
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

133446
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments