"A woman in the Black Power movement was considered, at best, irrelevant. A woman asserting herself was a pariah. A woman attempting the role of leadership was, to my proud black Brothers, making an alliance with the 'counter-revolutionary, man-hating, lesbian, feminist white bitches.' It was a violation of some Black Power principle that was left undefined. If a black woman assumed a role of leadership, she was said to be eroding black manhood, to be hindering the progress of the black race. She was an enemy of black people."
--Elaine Brown

Although Elaine Brown had in general, better opportunities than others of her race while she was a child, she had not had much experience exposure to feminism until she joined the Black Power Movement. One of the founders of the Black Panther Party told Elaine that, "A sister has to give up her pussy when the Brother is on his job and hold it back when he's not. 'Cause Sisters got pussy power!" That was the main job for the women, to help keep their men employed and happy. They were not allowed to hold leadership or have any power. It seems even black men at the time, so oppressed by larger society, wanted to feel confident that they held power over women. With the Black Panther Party, Brown's only strategy for functioning as a powerful woman was to rely on the membership's loyalty to Huey Newton.

Elaine never really considered herself as a feminist until she was criticized as a 'lackey'because of her two albums, which the feminists accused, were praising men. Offended by that remark, Elaine joined along with many black and white women to denounce feminism. Despite the fact that Brown distanced herself from feminists, during the 1974 election of the Oakland City Council, a black men outwardly called Elaine a lesbian, not because of have relationships with women, but because he said she valued women. Only then did she realize that her opportunities in life were 'obliterated as much as my being female as by being black and poor. Racism and sexism in America are equal partners in [Elaine's] oppression.'

During her membership in the Black Panther Party, Elaine was brutally beaten from one of a fellow male member of the BPP. From that moment on, she learned not 'to rely on the power of men' but to confront her oppression and her fears on her own. When Huey made her acting leader of the party, everyone was shocked. She was now in a position that only men previously had held. She relates this experience for a black woman in America as an feeling of power akin to being raised from the dead. As leader of the party, she appointed many women to positions of power and declared that 'the agenda of the Black Panther Party and the revolution to free black people from oppression [now] specifically included black women.' Elaine kept shaky control of the party as more men grumbled about a woman leader, and about the fact that more and more women were holding commanding positions. Upon Huey's return from Cuba, he criticized the changes, complaining about 'how weak the party had become.'

Elaine would eventually have to flee for her life from this party, because of her audacious move to lead the party while trying at the same time to reform the limits on women. She had made the decision to claim her womanhood and had clearly committed to fighting for an improved more fair role for Black women as part of her struggles to help the black community overall. Of this shift she said, "If that gave rise to my being labeled a 'man-hating lesbian, feminist bitch,'I would be the most radical of them."To this day, Elaine continues to fight for her dreams and the rights of women with all the fire she has within herself. Those who know of what she continues to accomplish know her fire is an inferno.