Mary Ann Weathers, “An Argument For Black Women’s Liberation As a Revolutionary Force”
“An Argument For Black Women’s Liberation As a Revolutionary Force”
Mary Ann Weathers
[Originally published in No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation. Cambridge, Mass: Cell 16. vol. 1, no. 2 (Feb 1969)]
“Nobody can fight your battles for you; you have to do it yourself.” This will be the premise used for the time being for stating the case for Black women’s liberation, although certainly it is the least significant. Black women, at least the Black women I have come in contact with in the movement have been expounding all their energies in “liberating” Black men (if you yourself are not free, how can you “liberate” someone else?). Consequently, the movement has practically come to a standstill. Not entirely due however to wasted energies but, adhering to basic false concepts rather than revolutionary principles ant at this stage of the game we should understand that if if is not revolutionary it is false.
We have found that Women’s Liberation is an extremely emotional issue, as well as an explosive one. Black men are still parroting the master’s prattle about male superiority. This now brings us to a very pertinent question: How can we seriously discuss reclaiming our African Heritage — cultural living modes which clearly refute not only patriarcy and matriarchy, but our entire family structure as we know it. African tribes live communally where households let alone heads of households are non-existant.
It is really disgusting to hear Black women talk about giving Black men their manhood — or allowing them to get it. This is degrading to other Black women and thoroughly insulting to Black men (or at least it should be). How can someone “give” one something as personal as one’s adulthood? That’s precisely like asking the beast for your freedom. We also chew the fat about standing behind our men. This forces me to the question: Are we women or leaning posts and props? It sounds as if we are saying if we come our from behind him, he’ll fall down. To me, these are clearly maternal statements and should be closely examined.
Women’s Liberation should be considered as a strategy for an eventual tie-up with the entire revolutionary movement consisting of women, men, and children. We are now speaking of real revolution (armed). If you can not accept this fact purely and without problems examine your reactions closely. We are playing to win and so are they. Viet Nam is simply a matter of time and geography.
Another matter to be discussed is the liberation of children from a sick slave culture. Although we don’t like to see it, we are still operating under the confines of the slave culture. Black women use their children for their own selfish needs of worth and love. We try to live our lives which are too oppressing to bear through our children and thereby destroy them in the process. Obviously the much acclaimed plaudits of the love of the Black mother has some discrepincies. If we allow ourselves to turn from the truth we run the rist of spending another 400 years in self destruction. Assuming of course the beast would tolerate us that long, and we know he wouldn’t.
Women have fought with men and we have died with men in every revolution, more timely in Cuba, Algeria, China, and now in Viet Nam. If you notice, it is a woman heading the “Peace Talks” in Paris for the NLF. What is wrong with Black women? We are clearly the most oppressed and degraded minority in the world, let alone the country. Why can’t we rightfully claim our place in the world?
Realizing fully what is being said, you should be warned that the opposition for liberation will come from everyplace, particularly from other women and from Black men. Don’t allow yourselves to be intimidated any longer with this nonsense about the “Matriarchy” of Black women. Black women are not matriarchs but we have been forced to live in abandonment and been used and abused. The myth of the martriarchy must stop and we must not allow ourselves to be sledgehammerd by it any longer — not if we are serious about change and ridding ourselves of the wickedness of this alien culture. Le it be clearly understood that Black women’s liberation is not anti-male; any such sentiment or interpretation as such can not be tolerated. It must be taken clearly for what it is — pro-human for all peoples.
The potential for such a movement is boundless. Where as in the past only certain type Black people have been attracted to the movement — younger people, radicals, and militants. The very poor, the middle class, older people and women have not become aware or have not been able to translate their awareness into action. Women’s liberation liberation offers such a channel for these energies.
Even though middle-class Black women may not have suffered the brutal supression of poor Black people, they most certainly have felt the scourge of the male superiority oriented society as women, and would be more prone to help in alleviating some of the conditions of our more oppressed sisters by teaching, raising awareness and consciousness, verbalizing the ills of women and this society, helping to establish communes.
Older women have a wealth of information and experience to offer and would be instrumental in closing the communications gap between the generations. To be Black and to tolerate this jive about discounting people over 30 is madness.
Poor women have knowledge to teach us all. Who else in this society sees more and is more realistic about ourselves and this society and about the faults that lie within our own people than our poor women? Who else could profit and benefit from a communal setting that could be established than these sisters? We must let the sisters know that we are capable and some of us already do love them. We women must begin to unabashedly learn to use the word “love” for one another. We must stop the petty jealousies, the violence that we Black women have for so long perpertrated on one another about fighting over this man or the other. (Black men should have better sense to encourage this kind of destructive behavior.) We must turn to ourselves and one another for strength and solace. Just think for a moment what it would be like if we got together and internalized our own 24 hour a day communal centers knowing our children would be safe and loved constantly. Not to mention what it would do for everyone’ egos especially the children. Women should not have to be enslaved by this society’s concept of motherhood through their children, and then the kids suffer through a mother’s resentment of it by beatings, punishment, and rigid discipline. All one has to do it look at the statistics of Black women who are rapidly filling the beast’s mental institutions to know that the time for innovation and change and creative thinking is here. We cannot sit on our behinds waiting for someone else to do it for us. We must save ourselves.
We do not have to look at ourselves as someone’s personal sex objects, maids, baby sitters, domestics and the like in exchange for a man’s attention. Men hold this power, along with that of the breadwinner over our heads for these services and that’s all it is — servitude. In return we torture him, and fill him with insecurities about his manhood, and literallly force him to “cat” and “mess around” bringing in all sorts of conflicts. This is not the way really human people live. This is whitey’s thing. And we play the game with as much proficiency as he does.
If we are going to bring about a better world, where best to begin than with ourselves? We must rid ourselves of our own hang-ups, before we can begin to talk about the rest of the world and we mean the world and nothing short of just that (Let’s not kid ourselves). We will be in a position soon of having to hook up with the rest of the oppressed peoples of the world who are invovled in liberation just as we are, and we had better be ready to act.
All women suffer oppression, even white women, particularly poor white women, and especially Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Oriental and Black American women whose oppression is tripled by any of the above-mentioned. But we do have female’s oppression in common. This means that we can begin to talk to other women with this common factor and start building links with them and thereby build and transform the revolutionary force we are now beginning to amass. This is what Dr. King was doing. We can no longer allow ourselves to be duped by the guise of racism. Any time the White man admits to something you know he is trying to cover something else up. We are all being exploited, even the white middle class, by the few people in control of this entire world. And to keep the real issue clouded, he keeps us at one another’s throats with this racism jive. Although, Whites are most certainly racist, we must understand that they have been programmed to think in these patterns to divert their attention. If they are busy fighting us, then they have no time to question the policies of the war being run by this government. With the way the elections went down it is clear that they are as powerless as the rest of us. Make no question about it, folks, this fool knows what he is doing. This man is playing the death game for money and power, not because he doesn’t like us. He could care less one way or the other. But think for a moment if we all go together and just walked on out. Who would fight his wars, who would run his police state, who would work his factories, who would buy his products?
We women must start this thing rolling.