Contemporary Women's Issues

The following sixteen articles are from a discussion on the RC email discussion list for leaders of women, about contemporary women's issues. 

Black Women and Sexism; Sexual Assault

For me as a Black woman, a contemporary women’s issue is how difficult it is to talk about sexism with Black people because of the deep grief I feel about the brutal treatment of Black men. It appears—and feels like—Black women are the only allies Black men have in this world. There is no other safe place for them to show any feelings at all.

The message is clear: we Black women cannot express our feelings about sexism and male domination because this would further invalidate these good men. They experience so much disrespect, invalidation, and violence that talking about the sexism I experience (from them, often) seems like just one more thing that would make them feel bad and one more excuse that the world would use to brutalize them.

I am proud of Black feminists who are writing and talking more about this phenomenon. Maybe there is a way we can challenge the sexism in a movie like Straight Outta Compton* while still supporting it and not diminishing what Black men were trying to do with that film and that music group.

Another contemporary women’s issue is sexual assault, particularly on college campuses. The U.S. government is investigating more than a hundred and forty colleges and universities for violating the civil rights of women by allowing sexual violence to occur on their campuses. The investigation is largely in response to the activism of women college students. They are speaking out about rape. They are suing their schools for violating their civil rights. They are organizing other women who have survived sexual violence.

However, I do not see many places where it is safe for young women to really show how they have been hurt around sex and sexuality. I heard a young woman rape survivor say that she and her friends learn about sex from pornography. I think all women—but particularly young women today—need many opportunities to discharge and talk about how our entire sense of self-worth as women can feel like it depends on attracting men sexually. We go to great lengths to build our lives around this deep hurt from sexism. It makes us vulnerable to doing sexual things that we don’t want to do and that may hurt us.

It is difficult for the anti-sexual-assault advocacy community to make room for younger women to be honest about this. Perhaps we RCers can help more women gain attention for these younger women.

Alysia Tate

Chicago, Illinois, USA

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

* Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 U.S. film about the Compton, California, USA, hip hop group N.W.A.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00