Self-definition has been a responsibility I’ve wholeheartedly taken on as mine. It’s never a duty one should outsource. Of this responsibility, writer and poet Audre Lorde said, ‘If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.’ Self-definition and self-determination is about the many varied decisions that we make to compose and journey toward ourselves, about the audacity and strength to proclaim, create, and evolve into who we know ourselves to be. It’s okay if your personal definition is in a constant state of flux as you navigate the world.
–Janet Mock, Redefining Realness
(via because i am a woman)
be mindful. not. to let oppression become the definition of your skin. your gender. your non gender. your non sexuality. your sexuality. or anything about you. be mindful that oppression is a thing outside of you. that is always begging to come inside. it is not your given name. you know what your name is. and if you are trapped in the fog of forget. spend the nights and the days re.membering your name.
oppression is the the thing that wants to become your name. do not allow it.
–re.membering your name, nayyirah waheed
Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night.
—Queers Read This, Published Anonymously by Queers and Distributed at NYC Pride, 1990
(via queering the game of life)
We share a common interest, survival, and it cannot be pursued in isolation from others simply because their differences make us uncomfortable. We know what it is to be lied to. The 60s should teach us how important it is not to lie to ourselves. Not to believe that revolution is a one-time event, or something that happens around us rather than inside of us. Not to believe that freedom can belong to anyone group of us without the others also being free. How important it is not to allow even our leaders to define us to ourselves, or to define our sources of power to us.
–Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s” (1982)
What we read and why we do so defines us in a profound way. You are what you read, i suppose. Browsing through someone’s library is like peeking into their dna.
–Guillermo del Toro, Introduction to The Best American Nonrequired Reading
Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules. When men embrace feminist thinking and practice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.
I am currently reading bell hooks’s all about love: new visions and it is everything. By that I mean it is challenging everything I thought I knew but didn’t quite feel right and inspiring me to demand more of myself and others.
Looking fierce may not transform systems that actively work against my body, but it has and continues to help me reconfigure space through self-definition. Moreover, it empowers me to unapologetically take up (and reconfigure) more space.
–Eddie Ndopu, A Black Crip’s Perspective on Fashion and Embodied Resistance
(via the bad dominicana)
If I had to share what feminism has taught me to someone, it would be that although there are thousands of ways to do it wrong, there is no right way to be a feminist. There are as many kinds of feminism as there are feminists and not one of them is limited by definition. Adversaries, and some supporters, say that the feminist movement’s lack of “unified goal” is our weakness. This is simply not true. We don’t lack a unified goal, we lack a defined goal. And that is not our weakness, it is our work. Self-definition is our priority. Autonomy and liberation are what all of us are looking for, across the human spectrum. And with it’s focus on intersectionality, social justice, and human rights I wholeheartedly believe that feminism is the one movement that can truly liberate us all. You can quote me on that.
But it starts with a basic acceptance of the act that our personal is political: and in the same way that is true for us, it is also the reality for others. Only a handful of other people might understand why feminism, for me, means the freeing of black minds, the rights of twerkers, and the redefining of the term bad bitch. And that’s okay. But I can’t police other feminists who don’t share those goals or have knowledge about my experiences, because they’re mine.
–Sesali Bowen, Feministing