Monday, April 9, 2012

My Southern Fried Feminist Manifesto

Image by Kate Mereand-Sinha via Flickr Creative Commons

I often describe myself as a Southern fried feminist and not simply because that phrase is cute and catchy. I was born and bred in Birmingham, Alabama and now that I've returned to my hometown I find myself  constantly striving to reconcile my feminist ideals with Southern values. 
At the risk of perpetuating stereotypes about the South, there are a few themes that are highly important in Southern culture. Those things include faith, family, food, and fashion, as well as issues of race. With that in mind, here is my Southern Fried Feminist Manifesto...
I am a Southern fried feminist and this means I have faith. I am a Jesus-loving, church-going gal, but I refuse to buy into the lie that I am somehow a second class citizen in God's kingdom simply because Eve was made from Adam's rib and took the first bite from that forbidden fruit.
I am a Southern fried feminist and this means I value family. I cherish my relationship with my husband and I strive to honor him in all I do, but I did not trade in my voice or my dreams for a wedding ring. My husband and I are partners. We believe the Bible teaches mutual submission, not the idea that "virtuous woman" is a synonym for doormat. 
I am a Southern fried feminist and this means I love to eat. But I love food because it brings people together. Because I love to eat, "I be up in the gym just working on my fitness," as Fergie says. A feminist girl can't save the world if she's unhealthy and out of shape. 
I am a Southern fried feminist and this means I love fashion. Yes, fashion. Sure, the South isn’t home to any fashion capitals of the world, but down here below the Mason-Dixon line taking care of your appearance isn’t about pride, but good manners. In the South, dressing inappropriately for any occasion is considered just plain rude. 
I am a Southern fried feminist and I am black. With regard to what race and feminism mean to me, I believe poet June Jordan said it best: 
"I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect."
What's your manifesto?

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