Black women’s refusal to back down from womanism/feminism to appease black men is ultimately in everyone’s self-interest.
In her essay “Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface” Audre Lorde asked,
If this society ascribes roles to Black men which they are not allowed to fulfill, is it Black women who must bend and alter our lives to compensate, or is it society that needs changing?
To back down would have meant coddling and acquiescence, both recipes for our resentment–on top of the resentment resultant from black men’s perpetuation of sexism.
In essence, not backing down is akin to the first time you leave a kid to stick up for themselves on the playground. It’s painful and you want to help them, but you know that they must help themselves.
Black women can’t fight black men’s battles for them when it comes to demanding that society change. Black men must demand that, themselves.
To give up fighting for our autonomy would have meant that not only would we not have it, but in the process of acquiescing, we would be coddling black men and deluding ourselves into thinking we could fight their battles for them.
In the process we’d still hafta deal with their—and everyone else’s—shit.
Not worth it.
You could argue that this was done for a generation until the today’s crop of internet-empowered womanists started gaining traction and it would prove the point.
How further along could we be in our liberation if we’d given our full support, but made black men lead their own battles, instead of diminishing ourselves and making demands for them?