For a long time I grew up understanding the urgency for women’s rights without having a relationship with the word “feminist.” Subscribing to feminism’s ideals felt like the most natural thing in the world. My mother always encouraged female self-reliance, emphasizing education and framing it as empowerment. This framing fostered an awareness for the power disparity across gender that I understood before I even developed a vocabulary for describing it. The works of bell hooks and Audre Lorde were incredibly formative readings for me because they showed me how to confront patriarchy intersectionally, with respect to race, class, and sexual orientation.
But growing up as a woman of colour in the United States, particularly as a Pakistani Muslim subject to any number of horrors the white Western imagination thinks I experience, I’ve seen the failure of Western feminist movements to abandon the racist, imperialist, and capitalist oppressions that distinguish patriarchy. Many women of colour have rejected the term “feminist” for these flaws, choosing instead “womanist.” But I don’t want new words I want inclusivity. Which is why in my late teens I recognized the importance of identifying as a feminist.
Women of colour must create the spaces they are not afforded. For me, it’s achieved by dialoging with the feminism of my American culture and challenging it to be better, by insisting on my participation. By expressing solidarity with womanists in America and around the world whose multifaceted oppression demands an intersectional response. Anyone frustrated by not being heard only guarantees that frustration by keeping silent. So on the anniversary of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique I find myself looking forward, very certain and willing to articulate that I am a Muslim woman of color, and I am a feminist.
- Ayesha A. Siddiqi What Got Us Into Feminism
On the anniversary of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique Hazlitt Mag asked a wonderfully diverse range of women what got them into feminism, click through for beautiful responses from all.
I contributed to this and so did Durga and a lot of womens I adore.