As a womanist, I am often asked what the difference is between womanism and feminism. The answer to that question is complicated because there are many different types of womanists and feminists. Everyone has their way of moving about the world. However, in my opinion, the main difference between womanism and feminism is that womanism focuses on the experiences of not only Black women but all women, while feminism has historically centered white women.
That’s not to say that feminism doesn’t care about the experiences of Black women, but womanism was created specifically for us. It is a movement that uplifts and celebrates our unique voices. And as Black women, we need that. We need spaces where we can come together and talk about our own lives and the things that only we experience. Welcome back.
In the spirit of womanism and Black sisterhood, here are a few things that I’ve learned about womanhood from my experiences as a 20-something.
-Protect Black girls.
We, unfortunately, don’t get to stay children very long because of the sexualization and adultification young Black girls receive from society. So many girls also grow up being the second in command to their mothers in parenthood, and some spend time taking care of their parents directly for one reason or another. This leaves them with little time to just be children. Womanhood is important, and it should mean something different to every woman. To me, it means being a protector of Black girls. It means using my voice to uplift them when they’re down, advocating for them when they can’t speak for themselves and loving them. As adults, it is our duty to protect Black girls and ensure that they have a safe space to grow into womanhood.
-Be unapologetically yourself.
-Understand your value.
I recently quit my job on my very first day. I went viral on TikTok speaking about the experience. If I’m being honest, I saw all of the red flags very early in the interview process and chose to look past them because I just wanted the job. It ended up not being a good fit, mostly because I don’t tolerate disrespect of any kind. My momma speaks to me with respect, and I came out of her vagina. I know my value, and I’m not about to let anyone else dictate it for me. You should know your value too; don’t ever let your selfie shrunken down so that others may shine. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want in life and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.
-Be confident in who you are.
There is nothing more attractive than a woman who knows her power and embraces it fully. I am not always confident, but I work on it every day. It is a daily grind, but it’s worth it. When you’re confident in who you are, it shows. You walk differently, talk differently and carry yourself with a sense of knowing that you are just fine the way you are. No one can tell you what to do or how to be; that is for you to decide. So own it, love it and strut your stuff like nobody’s business.
-Know your worth.
I ended a relationship in the last quarter of 2020 because I could see that there was a discrepancy in how he saw me, versus, how I saw myself. I think you can tell by now that I think very highly of myself. When this is not reflected to me in the people I choose to spend my time with, they have to go. They say that you should never let a man tell you more than once that he does not want you and I completely agree with that. Sometimes the other person doesn’t need to say it for you to know that something just isn’t right. I promise you it’s not worth it to play Inspector gadget trying to figure it out. Sometimes people are treating you the way they feel you deserve to be treated, and sometimes it has nothing to do with you at all but you may be getting splashed anyway. There’s been a conversation happening on TikTok recently about people choosing to walk away from significant others when they are going through a dark phase in their lives. That’s sort of what this was. The person I was in a relationship with, was going through a dark storm that I made the conscious decision to not stay present for. That was hard and I thought I could withstand the rain, but when I started to get soaked, I just couldn’t. I needed to choose myself. Whether it’s in relationships, in your career, or life in general, never underestimate the power of knowing your value.
-Be a sister to other women.
As I continue on my journey through womanhood,
I know I have so much ground to make up for what I didn’t know, but I’m learning and growing every day. I want to share with younger Black women some of the things that I’ve learned in my 20s about womanhood. This is so important because I know how much easier my life could have been if I had had a big sister, a role model, a mentor, or someone I could just shoot the shit with around to save me from myself.
Womanhood is not a destination. It’s a journey. And it’s one that Black women have to undertake while dodging the bullets of racism and sexism.
Let me be clear: I am NOT saying that being a woman is easy. What I AM saying is that being a BLACK woman in America is hard. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us that we’re not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, or valuable enough. As if that isn’t bad enough, we also have to deal with the fact that our brothers, fathers, and unhealed aunties are often in opposition to our growth as a community.
It’s OK to disagree.
How have your experiences as a woman shaped how you view womanhood?
What lessons have you learned about womanhood that you would like to share with younger Black girls? Or just young women in general.
This is an open forum for any woman to answer.