Womanism: Universal Black Feminism

Topics: Black feminism, African American, Feminism Pages: 3 (751 words) Published: February 24, 2013
The term womanism is coined by Alice Walker, the author best known for her book “The Color Purple.” Walker used the term for the first time in 1983, when she talked about the womanist theory in her book In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist prose. The womanist movement centres on the feminist effort of black women. Womanism grew because activists felt that the feminist movement did not fully cover the plight of black women. Rather than focusing on social change or activism, womanism (sometimes referred to as “black feminism”) focuses more on celebrating womanhood and the African American woman’s strength and experiences. When they push for change and attention to social issues, womanists focus on racism and class oppression.

One of the reasons many prefer the term womanism is that feminism has traditionally been a middle-class white-women’s movement. Feminism fought for suffrage rights for white women, but never got involved in the civil rights movement to help guarantee black women social equality. So womanism looks out not only for women but also for the rights of women of color, who are sometimes a step behind white woman when it comes to social equality. Alice Walker in her first collection of non-fiction “In Search of our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist prose”, referred primarily to African-American women, but also for women in general. In her own words, she says: “A womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” She defines a womanist in her literary work as: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/ or non-sexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and / or non-sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.

For Walker, a “Womanist” is one who is “committed to the survival and wholeness of an entire people” (Aldridge). The theory of...
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