Black Feminist Terms in Review

Spring semester is in full effect and I'm pretty excited about the classes I am taking. Even though I have a pretty heavy schedule, there are three classes I will begin to write about in blog posts to come:

A required read for COMM360.

  • SOCY105 - Introduction to Contemporary Social Problems
    • An examination of contemporary social problems through sociological perspectives; ways in which social problems are part of the organization of society; a detailed study of selected social problems including social conflict and social inequality.
  • COMM360 - The Rhetoric of Black America
    • A historical, critical survey of the rhetoric of Black Americans from colonial period to the present.
  • WMST265 - Construction of Manhood and Womanhood in the Black Community
    • Investigates the way African Americans are represented and constructed in public and private spheres and explores the social constructions and representations of Black manhood and womanhood from various disciplinary perspectives.

I will be giving my own opinion on the topics discussed in these three classes in future posts. For now, I want to give you all a quick review on three concepts I might be using in my reflections:


Intersectionality in a nutshell.

Intersectionality is a concept that describes the overlap of oppressive institutions (from homophobia to ableism) that one person might experience. Sometimes when we talk about just one oppression, the voices of those who experience many are silenced.

As a black woman, I experience double jeopardy because of the oppressive institutions of racism and sexism. Stereotypes that are unique to me are the "angry black woman" caricature or the "ghetto-fabulous loudmouth." Here are some examples of other oppressive institutions:

  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia
  • Ableism
  • Xenophobia
  • Classism

Black Feminism vs. Womanism vs. Hip Hop Feminism

Womanism is to feminism what purple is to lavender.
— Alice Walker

Even those these terms could be used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them. Black feminism is the embodiment of intersectionality. It was created as a sign of defiance to the old form of feminism that only catered to the political and social problems of white women. Black feminism was not only a voice for black women, but all minority groups that experienced more than one form of oppression.

One of my required texts for WMST265.

Womanism does not need to be prefaced with the world 'black' because the word embodies the black female experience. Womanism uplifts a woman's culture and power in our misogynistic world. It recognizes the special relationship between a black man and a black woman, the sexual power of black women and the history of sexual violence against black women that has been ignored.

Hip Hop feminism speaks on the more modern and less academic experience of black women, specifically around the 90s. It critiques the gray area that is black feminism by explaining the relationship between black women and the misogynistic world of hip hop. Personally, this is the concept of feminism I identify with the most.

Gender vs. Sex vs. Sexuality

A suggested text for SOCY105 that I plan to do my book review on.

Sex and gender are two separate concepts that are very connected to each other. Sex is usually based on a person's biological features (penis vs. vagina) whereas gender is used to describe the masculinity or femininity of a person (how someone looks and/or speaks).

Feminism objects gender labeling. In the mainstream world, it is believed that a person's gender must derive from their sex. Here are two common terms explained:

  • Transgender - one who chooses not to exhibit the gender they were assigned to at birth. Example: someone raised as a feminine woman might cut her hair short and wear men's fashion.
  • Transexual - one that feels they were born as the wrong sex may take hormones or get surgeries to present themselves as the person they feel on the inside.

Gender identity, as described briefly above, is often confused with sexual orientation. The latter is centered around who a person finds attractive:

  • Heterosexual refers to a woman sexually attracted to a man or vice versa. 
  • Homosexual refers a person attracted to someone of the same sex. This term is often used for just men.
  • Lesbian refers to a woman who is sexually attracted to a woman.
  • Bisexual refers to someone who is attracted to both men and women.
  • Queer refers to someone with an open and fluid sexual orientation.
  • Asexual refers to someone who is not acting on sexual attraction at this time.
  • Pansexual refers to someone who is attracted to people across the range of genders.

Have any questions about the terms above? Just comment below. Stay tuned for blog posts that go deeper into these topics and others discussed in my classes!

--- Ms. Parker ---