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Feminism, Race and Patricia Arquette

Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech initially received applause. When she further commented backstage, the Twitter verse turned on her. Being a woman in a "man's world" is stressful enough.
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"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." -- Gloria Steinem

Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech initially received applause. When she further commented backstage, the Twitter verse turned on her. Being a woman in a "man's world" is stressful enough. It becomes that much more complicated when other women "vag block" (a Ronda-isms) your path. True to Gloria Steinem's statement, Arquette's truth set some free, hence the applause. However, it also pissed some off -- the Twitter backlash.

As a child, my memory of feminism was man-haters. At the age of 8, I claimed my independence as a woman, but I wanted no parts of the feminists I saw on television. I recalled hearing my mother and others talk about their experience and impression of the women's rights movement. Some felt that the women's rights movement rode on the coattails of the Civil Rights Movement and then excluded women of color from the women's rights movement. My mom said there seemed to be a preference for business women and against stay-at-home mothers or women in clerical positions. My mom did not like being looked down upon because she chose to stay at home and raise her children. She also did not like that women in the movement assumed the dress and mannerisms of men. She was often asked why she was not part of the workforce. She did not see the benefit of leaving her children to get a job that would essentially go towards childcare costs. She was a married woman. Why was she being shunned for having a family? My mother, grandmother and aunts raised, nurtured and inspired me. If there was no place for the likes of my mother and grandmother among their ranks, then I surely would have no part of feminism or the women's rights movement.

As a young lawyer interviewing at law firms, I have experienced illegal questions about race and/or gender. It is worst when the offender is another woman or person of color. The Sony email leak highlights my point. There were negative comments about women actresses and actors of color. Ironically, the person at the center of the controversy was a woman. As if women did not have enough problems with the glass ceiling!

As a woman of color, on a daily basis the media and women's magazines make it clear that my body type is "not the standard of beauty." Recently, Giuliana Rancic made comments about Zendaya's braids on the red carpet referencing patchouli oil and marijuana. Ironically, when a Kardashian wore braids the media went crazy claiming it was the "latest hair trend." Women of color have been wearing French braids, corn rows and twists since the beginning of time. In the words of Sojourner Truth, "ain't I a woman?"

Women, why do we vag block and become "mean girls?" Why did Kristi Capel refer to Lady Gaga's music as "jiggaboo" and later claim, like Rancic, that she did not mean to offend anyone?

Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie. This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor on which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism. -- Gloria Steinem

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