Are Women the Niggers of the World?

By: Anita Estell

Yes. I used the “n” word in the title. Before any feathers ruffle — I borrowed the phrase from a song written by the late John Lennon (and as a black woman, there are times when I/we get a pass in using it, and this is one of them). In that song, Lennon, who co-wrote the song with his wife, Yoko Ono, is using the term to refer to women as the “slave of the slave.” See the interview with Dick Cavett below. In 1972, when the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ron Dellums, was asked about Lennon’s use of the “n” word, he said:

If you define ‘nigger’ as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, the good news is that you don’t have to be black to be a nigger in this society. Most of the people in America are niggers. – Ronald V. Dellums, Former Member of Congress and Mayor of Oakland, California

 

Since Lennon wrote the song, much has changed, yet much remains the same. A recent UK study suggests 1 in 5 women in the UK experience some form of sexual harassment. In the US, the Women’s Law Center reports that at least one quarter of all women have experienced workplace sexual harassment.

The problem is not limited to the US and UK. It is global. Arguably, if it were a disease, it would be a pandemic. A continuing crescendo of recent sexual harassment allegations point to a pervasive (and perverse) culture supported by structural paradigms that devalue women and girls. It is just that simple.   Recent stories related to Gabby Douglass, her teammates, congressional staff, a mound of dismissals of legacy executives in the media and entertainment industries sadly confirm what many women unfortunately already accept as a way of life, and all too often know to be true.

Even the women who are true warriors for our nation, who are astute in self-defense and ways to maim and kill, seek relief. The scope of the problem was recently magnified when more than 200 women in the national security and defense sectors signed and published a letter bringing attention to the challenges they face. As reported by Time, the letter states, “This is not just a problem in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, newsrooms or Congress . . . [t]hese abuses are born of imbalances of power and environments that permit such practices while silencing and shaming their survivors.”

Let’s take . . . no . . . seize this moment to acknowledge the extent of the problem beyond the tip-of-the-iceberg profiles headlining the news, and let us each do what we can to co-propel a permanent culture shift that values the lives of the living as precious, no matter gender, ethnicity, age, sexual preferences or ability.

Read Personal Account
I will no longer be a victim”
By Skytina Felder-Jones, 8th Fighter Wing
Published April 03, 2014