Three years ago I wrote a blog post about feminism, “Good Little Feminist,” fueled by incidents at concerts where I was fearful of men. I included a list of books about feminism that I had reviewed and in looking back on that list, I came to a startling revelation.
Diary of a Bookseller #20
March 2018 was a different world. #MeToo was a new phenomenon (despite being used for over 12 years), I hadn’t yet learned the meaning of the term TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and while J. K. Rowling wasn’t my favorite person, I hadn’t yet learned how much I could despise her. I was obsessed with Emma Watson’s He for She campaign, Anthony Bourdain, male ally, was still with us, the pandemic hadn’t yet happened, and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were still alive. And my idea of feminism was very, very white.
Looking over the list of books I included three years ago, I was at first happy to realize that they were not all by straight white women but then I realized that I really didn’t remember much of what I read of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s remarks on feminism regarding race. Last year I was sent a comp copy of Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad from the publisher and it sat untouched on my desk at work while the store was closed. I had always thought feminism was feminism, we were all women and I had no compunctions about including trans-women in my definition of women, women are women. But what I had failed to consider was that the experience of BIPOC women, women raised in poverty, and trans-women was fundamentally different than my own as a white woman.
So when the store reopened, I set about making sure I took that copy of Me and White Supremacy off my desk and back home where I vowed to put it to good use. Then life happened and I had a store to keep running and my mental health wasn’t great and I didn’t want to be reminded of all the other ways I had failed. I didn’t want to feel guilty as I worked through it, I wanted to be open minded and reflective of the past and my own past behaviors and thoughts, not drowning in grief and self-pity over how I could have done things differently. I wanted to approach educating myself on race the same way I approached educating myself on politics, history, art movements, film – with a mind free of pre-conceived notions and prejudices, even latent subconscious ones.
But I realized this winter, I’ll never be able to wipe my mind clean. I’ll never be able to fully extinguish those thoughts if I don’t start somewhere. If I don’t start today. So that’s my resolution for this year, starting with International Women’s Day: to educate myself on the experiences of ALL women, not just white privileged women like myself and to be a better feminism, one who cares about the rights of all.