The feminist movement has allowed millions of women to enjoy many rights that were previously inconceivable, from the right to abortion to the right to vote. The course of the 20th century was shaped by these victories, but the evolution of a population is never straightforward, so we must also analyse the many twists and turns, grey areas, and forgotten events that shaped their history.
Mikki Kendall is an African American writer who was born in a ghetto, or hood, of Chicago, and has personally experienced the shortcomings of the feminist movement and its inability to effectively represent all women. The right to work, for example, is one of the most important victories in the history of the feminist struggle, but it has never been an issue for Black women: they have always worked, and they have never had the privilege of not being able to do so.
The right to work does not create conflict between the two groups, as each side is able to continue fighting for the rights that are most pressing to their cause, but it does highlight the different perspectives that push women to fight in the first place. The issue becomes complicated when the positions of today’s mainstream movement deviate from the original cause. According to the author, there is a general tendency to forget about marginalised communities, and to uphold views that are still too entrenched in hidden racism, classism, and sexist prejudices. She maintains that these feminists see deserving victims and undeserving victims. Millions of women growing up in the hood, and all other environments that are marginalised by non-inclusive cultures, must find a way to survive. In a world that criminalises their very existence, there is little room for gentle feminism, so they have to fight, and this often means having to make morally conflicting choices.
According to Mikki Kendall, the feminist movement needs to expand its pool of role models. We also need to start discussing other basic rights, such as food insecurity, access to quality education systems, and medical care.