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EPILOGUE Stability and Change in Attitudes toward Black Feminism One thing about African American public opinion is clear. Both the women’s liberation and the civil rights movements have had a profound effect on attitudes toward gender equality and feminist priorities among African Americans. It is not so much the case that black civil society has come to embrace feminisms, nor has it come to identify with the goals and objectives of the women’s liberation movement per se. Rather, the effect is seen in the controversy that black feminism has engendered within African American communities concerning the simultaneity of oppression and the belief that such codependent variables as race, class, gender, and sexuality cannot be separated (or ranked) in lived experience. Given that the formation of African American public opinion takes place constantly as individual members of the race react to the world around them, it is likely that African American men and women reach full actualization of black feminist consciousness via day-to-day encounters with race, class, and gender oppression on the street, in the supermarket , and in other public spheres. African Americans are bombarded with persuasive communications daily, from media outlets and information networks, local black leaders and civil rights activists , and voluntary organizations and religious spaces to friends and family (Harris-Lacewell 2004). This flood of incoming information has a tremendous impact on the way African American men and women think about the simultaneity of oppression, which makes it especially difficult to predict the nature of African American public opinion and how it changes. 139 While the aggregate patterns and trends in race and gender (or feminist) consciousness have received considerable attention, relatively little is known about the level of support for black feminist consciousness over long periods of time. In light of this, I look to the past as well as the present to discover a “gender gap” in black feminist attitudes. Utilizing data from the 1993–1994 National Black Politics Study (NBPS) and the 2004–2005 National Black Feminist Study (NBFS), I update findings published in earlier work on attitudes toward black feminism among African Americans (Simien 2004; Simien and Clawson 2004). More specifically, I examine whether male and female respondents display a different level of support for black feminism than they did a decade ago. Along the way, I discover an important trend in African American public opinion that clearly attests to the fact that certain political attitudes are more persistent and consequential than others. For instance, I observe a gender gap in black feminist attitudes that points to a process whereby men are, in some cases, more likely to support black feminist tenets than are women. The male–female difference is attributable to an attitudinal shift on the part of men that persists over time. This finding is consistent with evidence reported in prior work, which suggested that a gender gap in African American public opinion toward gender equality and feminist priorities might become more pronounced in the future (Simien 2004). Item analysis reveals both the distinctiveness and the heterogeneity of African American public opinion. The attitudes of African American men are, on the whole, more liberal and progressive than the attitudes of African American women toward black feminist tenets. I also consider whether black feminist consciousness affects various modes of political behavior—for example, voting in presidential elections, contacting public officials and signing petitions, attending protest meetings or demonstrations , giving someone a ride to the polls, aiding a voter registration drive, and donating money to a campaign. I find that black feminist thinkers have been successful at disseminating their beliefs about the matrix of domination and galvanizing a mass following that actively participates in politics. I therefore conclude that black feminists have had a recognizable impact on the constituency they aim to serve. 140 Black Feminist Voices in Politics Present Research Given the findings reported in prior chapters, I anticipate a growing divide or gender gap in attitudes toward black feminism among African Americans. While I understand that those results are neither absolute nor fixed in time, my expectation is that the male–female differential will not be attributable to any attitudinal shift on the part of African American women but rather to growing liberalism on the part of African American men. Using data from the 1993–1994 NBPS and the 2004–2005 NBFS, I extend this work by determining the level of support for black feminist consciousness in recent years and investigating whether black feminist consciousness stimulates active participation...


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