What is sexism? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sexism means prejudice or discrimination based on sex especially discrimination against women. It’s a behavior that conditions stereotypical attitudes on gender roles based on the sex. Sexism is an individual attitude, it is as well characteristic in many societal institutions.
Sexism in Black Liberation Groups
One of the things that were not brought to the light of Black Liberation groups was the sexism that Black women within these groups dealt with. Black liberation groups were all about the up-lift of Black men. According to But Some of Us Are Brave: A History of Black Feminism in the United States, “Freedom was equated with manhood and the freedom of Blacks with the redemption of black masculinity” (Vol. 9.1). It was presumed that racism was more harmful to black men than to black women, “tragedy of racism is the loss of manhood this assumption illustrates both an acceptance of masculinity defined within the context of patriarchy as well as a disregard for the human need for integrity”. A lot of men in these movements felt the need of control of women’s sexuality. Bell hooks made a statement about the men in these groups she said, “Black men overemphasize white male sexual exploitation of black womanhood as a way to explain their disapproval of inter-racial relationships” (Vol. 9.1).
We all was taught in school all the great things that Civil Rights movement had done to fight for the right of African American’s 1960’s, but what they don’t talk about was the sexism within it. Great leader and activist Martin Luther King Jr. and other men in this movement were considered chauvinist. What is a Chauvinist? A chauvinist is a person displaying aggressive or exaggerated patriotism. Dr. King and other men felt that a woman role was to be in a home taking care of the kids and home. They were supposed to be caretakers and homemakers. In the book Freedom Daughters it quotes civil rights activist Bernard Lee as saying: “Martin was absolutely a male chauvinist. He believed that the wife should stay home and take care of the babies while he'd be out there in the streets” (pg. 142). This was also mentioned in Michael Eric Dyson book called, I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Black Panther Party, the women in the group only concern was working together to get both the issues that Black men and women faced. The women in the party felt that there was no unity between the men and women in the group. A quote from On the Question of Sexism within the Black Panther Party by Safiya Bukhari-Alston, states “I think conditions outside the Party have forced us to realize that we have to get rid of male chauvinism. As panthers, we cannot separate ourselves and divide ourselves and work as Pantherettes, and on the other hand have brothers work as Panthers and expect a United Front. There has to be unity within the Party. We can’t be divided on the basis of sex and we can’t be divided on the basis of principles or anything” (pg. 6). Women who started chapters in different cities had to deal with the sexist attitudes of the men in the groups because they did not want to be giving order by a woman. The men could not handle a women having power over them.
The Black Feminist movement grew out of the Black Liberation Movement and the Women’s Movement. Black women felt they were being racially oppressed in the Women’s movement and sexually oppressed in the Black Liberation movement. Black women needs were ignored. The term “black” were socialized with men and “woman” was socialized with white (women). The purpose of the movement was to come up with a theory which addressed the way gender, race and class were interconnected in the lives and take action to stop the racism, sexist and class discrimination. Patricia Collins came up with the…