When the Great Sellout happened in 2015-2016, my heart broke for the legit men’s rights advocates. I know it’s hard for people coming late to this to imagine, but there were men who wanted a piece, not of the victim pie, but the freedom cake. Since women were defying stereotypes and learning to be their genuine selves, some men wanted to do that too. Without getting too deep into that since this post isn’t really about them. If you want to know more, look up Elvind Berge. A lot of what he has to say is pretty raw and we don’t always see eye to eye, but we respect each other partly because each of us can own our own bias. He as a cis hetero allo vanilla amab, and me as a variable bi demi primal afab mech.
It appears that the American republicans are poised to pollute and take over another fringe movement: maternal feminism. It’s scary because the dialogue was so polluted already with capitalist ideologue “white” feminism that many of us didn’t even know we were any kind of feminist until a few years ago. Now it seems we need to hit the ground running or else we’re going to get swallowed.
So let me start by making some things clear about maternal feminism:
De facto maternal feminism existed before what is known as the western world. It definitely did not start with mostly Christian women in western countries. It started for western people with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, but for Africans it is as old as the story of how Eshu gave women witchcraft. So for at least 10,000 years, African women have been engaged in the struggle for equity, and the reality of most pre colonial cultures made it clear that it was a struggle mainly due to the realities of agricultural living. Though there were cultures that still couched discriminatory practices in religious policies, and family patriarchs rendered members commodities based on gender, there was only so far things could be pushed before African women would go on a sex strike or even darker reproductive strike.
There are numerous incidents of African women forced into slavery and breeding walking into the water rather than fulfilling the wishes of their captors. There are just as many of African women raising their children with a mind for escape and/or vengeance. We don’t judge anyone for choosing to survive or choosing not to survive, but feminism is something that was enforced in African cultures with a fatal gravity.
We have understood since long that interdependence is crucial to survival, and in most of our cultures, developed a balanced set of roles, rights, and responsibilities that was in line with Nature, and therefore usually extended beyond binary “man” and “woman”. Western and islamic cultures through colonialism derailed us and set us back.
This is not to say that the western or the muslima’s struggles are completely separate from ours. Once the inevitable mixing of cultures happened, African women from Sojourner Truth to Maya Angelou to Kola Boof have influenced western and global feminism greatly. With the third and now fourth wave, issues of class, ethnicity, and gender as an idea in and of itself are getting more air time.
So before this thing goes completely off the rails, as maternal feminists, we do not find anything useful for us in abrahamic faiths. Even in early “Christianity” the only two roles for women were celibate nun or subjugated wife-slave. A maternal feminist can exist within the label of a belief system that is historically anti feminine people or inhumane, but this can’t be the vehicle through which their feminism is expressed as maternal feminism. At least not credibly. If someone is claiming to be a maternal feminist while espousing or promoting Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, they deserve to be questioned and made to clarify how much of their supposed feminism is influenced or countered by their faith. As soon as an element of their cannon or dogma is shown to be inhumane, they should be made to say whether or not they are siding with humanity or their belief system.
So if maternal feminism is going to survive and remain an accurate description, those of us who are atheist, agnostic, or belonging to belief systems with feminine, especially Mother deities equal to or surpassing masculine deities must step up and represent. We’re reminding western feminists of our presence, linking arms with working class conscious feminists, and continuing our struggle against both colonialism and overbearing patriarchy in the reclaiming movements of our own cultures.
We have a lot on our plate.