In “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism,” Angela Davis exposes an issue that has long plagued the feminist movement as a whole. The movement has often struggled within itself because of differing ideals of womanhood and goals of the feminist cause. In the African American women’s community, as in the women’s movement as a whole, class difference was a source of differing viewpoints and approaches.
Feminism tends to touch on very personal topics, such as marriage, family life, sexuality, and abuse. Women coming from varied backgrounds no doubt have varied responses to each issue. One goal all women’s organizations hope for is betterment of their current situation through the ending of all kinds of oppression.  How they get to that point and how far they take it are the points of contention. In this week’s reading, Davis asserts that women in the African American bourgeoisie and the women’s blues community both challenged the dominant racial and patriarchal ideologies but were unable to unite in the end.
The black women’s club movement was concerned about the perception of African American women as immoral and sexually promiscuous.  The African American working class community, especially women, saw practicing sexual love as freedom. These competing opinions of women’s advancement and freedom are proof of the opposing ideals under the flag of feminism. The blues songs of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith emphasized the sentiments of working class women, and talked openly about situations in which many women found themselves. While the women’s club movement worked to appear as a united front for the betterment of all of their peers, they did not approach women’s personal issues like blues songs did. For instance, as Davis wrote about Bessie Smith’s “’Taint Nobody’s Bisness If I Do” (a song loving the man who is the abuser), songs like this could be the “catalyst for introspective criticism on the part of many women in Bessie Smith’s listening audience who found themselves entrapped in similar situations.” 
Women’s blues songs held nothing back. Although they did not speak to family issues, they discussed abuse, love, sex, friendship, and emotion. They represented the people who listened and empowered them. My one issue with Davis’ argument, and perhaps this speaks to my own brand of feminism, is that she did not approach the fact that these women’s blues songs were basically about women’s reactions to men. Although singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Billie Holiday appeared to be very strong women in their own right – and their songs encouraged common understanding among many women of the working class – I wish she would have explored why women continued to feel they had to define themselves against men, even in their resistance.
Female acquiescence to male superiority occurred no matter the race or class. Davis evidenced her own feminist perspective when she took issue with wealthy white women who, as she wrote, “were in a position to write about their experiences in abusive relationships” but did nothing until recently, when the topic was considered suitable for “public discourse.”  As we now know, women’s blues songs had conveyed issues of abuse far before the middle or upper class did. Where some women saw embarrassment and vulgarity, others saw a stance for freedom. The blues “made oppositional stances to male violence culturally plausible.” 
 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Feminism,” Stanford University. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-topics/#FemDivWom>. Accessed 27 March 2010.
 Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 43.
 Davis, 31.
 Davis, 25.
 Davis, 29.