Abigail, June, & Moving Forward With/Through/Within/Beyond Feminism

It’s International Women’s Day.  I’ve spent most of today thinking about how to include trans women in this day, and why International Women’s Day needs to be explicitly trans woman-positive, not just implicitly.  Because of cis feminists’ history with trans women, that inclusion needs to be said, and said out loud!

I only got my education about feminism’s problems with race, class, trans folks, etc., comparatively recently–as in, a few years back.  Keep in mind, I’m only twenty.  This International Women’s Day, I ran across something that’s been in my consciousness for a hell of a long time: the first feminist text I ever read.  My mom is an ardent feminist, and  showed me this letter by Abigail Adams:

Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex.

Pretty great.

But it’s fucked up, right?  That my only feminist image as a kid was a white cis woman of able body?  Abigail is great–but we need more.  I’ve moved beyond her while keeping her with me–I have more images now.  Take June Jordan, for example, queer Black feminist poet:

That’s her.  If you’d like to read one of her poems, “Poem About My Rights,” I encourage you to click here.  (You should read it because it’s an incredible poem, although TW for rape, misogyny, and racism.)

Obviously, the be-all end-all of my feminist role models isn’t Abigail Adams and June Jordan–there are so many more and here are a few.  But today I was thinking of these two women, and how they combine to make me think of the educational journey I’m on.

Abigail Adams: My first feminist education, and a stone cold badass.  My past, my childhood, the beginning of my thinking.  What my mom gave me.

June Jordan: The woman I think of as my feminist role model these days.  Both an artist and an unapologetically angry and political queer woman of color.  I give her poems to my mom now.

June and Abigail, Abigail and June–and Monica Roberts, and Julia Serano, and more and more and more: never less, always more.  Always moving forward. Never moving back.

More not less.  Never one story.

2 Responses to “Abigail, June, & Moving Forward With/Through/Within/Beyond Feminism”

  1. 1 Barbara March 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Harriet Tubman, a remarkable black woman. Helped to change the course of slavery with the Underground Railroad.

  2. 2 purplemary54 March 28, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I think you have some good insight here. As a middle-aged, middle class white woman, I know I forget the disparities that women of color, working class/poor women, trans women, and others feel within the movement. I like to gloss over it, saying we’re all women, so we should all be after the same things. But we’re not. We all want equality and respect, sure, but we also want it to be acknowledged for who we are. Thanks for reminding me.

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