Where black women stand in feminism and patriarchy



In order to understand feminism, as well as toxic types of masculinity, one needs to understand what patriarchy is.

Patriarchy is a political, economic and cultural ideological system based on the power and domination of men over women by the belief that the former have greater intellectual, biological and material superiority. He sees woman as man’s other, in the words of Simone de Beauvoir, a definition that legitimizes men who read the world.

Patriarchy has orderly social structures that affect politics, economics, culture, science, and religion.

Feminism was born from the response of women to this system, questioning the roles of both sexes in the social order imposed by men. Each society has built its rules on what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, forcing each sex to fit into models of domination and submission, through values, tradition, violence and also beauty stereotypes.

Western men have reached the level of divers and classify them to better dominate them. White bourgeois women are considered more feminine, evolved, delicate, the muses and the ideal standard of beauty. This happened during the process of colonization and enslavement. When Europeans have transported and placed their values ​​and cultures on the rest of the world, imposing ways of thinking, acting and connecting.

This transition from the medieval period to bourgeois capitalism after colonization brought about a transformation of the role of women in society. White bourgeois women were locked in their homes, considered as wives and mothers who had to devote themselves to their husbands and children, renouncing public space and collective decisions, earning, in compensation, the title of “queen of the hearth” .

In France, for example, it was not until 1965, under article 223 of the Civil Code, that women could work outside without having to ask their husbands for permission.

While the patriarchy defined gender roles for white bourgeois women in the private sphere, with the excuse that they should be protected, non-white, black and indigenous women were not given the same rules.

They were on par with non-white men, forced to work in mines and plantations and give birth to children for the slave trade. Therefore, to say that all women are equally oppressed by patriarchy is a very big misconception.

The condition of black women was deeply marked by slavery and colonization, oppressed as subjects at the bottom of the social hierarchy, on the fringes, as the African-American writer Bell Hooks puts it.

Even today, black women in movies, commercials, politics and science are relegated to the role of maids, tied to stereotypes such as promiscuous, vulgar, dependent on state welfare, slaves, hypersexualized. , less evolved, angry or guardians of white families. .

As the writer Gatra Kilomba puts it, the black woman is the other of the other, that is, the white woman.

Fabiane Albuquerque is a doctor in sociology, black feminist activist and researcher in studies on whiteness and decolonization.


The opinions expressed in View articles are solely those of the authors.

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