Click here to watch this video from Huffington Post sum it up quite well. Basically WhiteFeminists™ ignore intersectionality, or intersecting systems of oppression. Thus, they are oblivious to the needs of anyone but themselves. It has become a pejorative slur toward a self-involved feminist (who tends to be white) that ignores the needs of People of Color. Some extend the definition to include ignoring the needs of the LGBTQ community also.
When first called a WhiteFeminist™, I did what most White Women do. I:
- took it personally
- felt offended
- felt angry, defensive
- cried reverse racism
- derailed the conversation and made it all about me and my fragile feelings
THEN I WOKE UP
Turns out the slur was actually helpful to me because it was a catalyst for my growth. How often is a White Feminist the object of a racialized slur? First reaction is “that’s racist.” That leads to “what is racism?” When I realized racism is NOT just prejudice, it’s prejudice + institutional and systematic power, I GOT IT that reverse racism does NOT exist (it just can’t). So People of Color can be prejudiced but not racist.
WhiteFeminists™ tend to focus on issues exclusively applicable to them. For example, you may have heard Patricia Arquette’s classic Oscar acceptance speech about women’s right to equal pay and the wage gap making 78 cents for every $1 a man makes.
Actually when you look at diverse groups, the facts look different. The 78 cents is a national average. Compared to a white man, a Black Woman makes 64 cents and a Latina woman makes 54 cents. Given that ALL FEMINISTS are not EQUAL, it seems obvious to me that we all need to gather in solidarity together to start working on the feminists at the BOTTOM of the misogyny heap – those hit hardest by sexism PLUS racism, transphobia, and homophobia.
This is not to say white feminists don’t have issues or problems of their own. But we have an OBLIGATION to use our WHITE PRIVILEGE to speak up for those being marginalized and oppressed. White women and the defense of their honor and fragility have for far too long been the reason and justification used for violence against People of Color. We have to stand up and shout STOP! I will not, not for ONE MORE MINUTE, be part of this.
I will use my voice to speak up for the most oppressed and marginalized among us because THEY NEED OUR HELP. Black women like #SandraBland are DEAD because of racism and police brutality. Six Black Transgender women have been murdered this year. Can we focus our attention on women being murdered and deal with #FreeTheNipple later? Pick something you feel passionate about and focus on that. Just use common sense and prioritize. Focus on genital mutilation or forced marriage. Focus on what’s near you, so you can grow where you are planted. Use your voice.
If you are a White Feminist, PLEASE do what you can to END WhiteFeminism™. A few suggestions:
1. Talk about this. Call out your White friends when their feminism is not intersectional or oblivious to other people’s needs.
2. Take the pledge and spread it around, get other people to take it. I created this because I will NO LONGER participate in WhiteFeminism in any shape or form. I would rather apologize humbly and learn gracefully than be a typical narcissist. I am a servant of the Divine and recognize the humanity inherent in every person.
3. Become active in whatever way you can. I’m disabled but I do what I can and twitter activism IS activism. Police brutality against People of Color has placed our country in a state of emergency. We NEED every White Feminist to talk to every other White Feminist and WAKE THIS WORLD UP. Join http://justicetogether.org/ and tweet about police brutality. Do something.
Another great article listing 6 things White Feminists can do about Police Brutality toward People of Color can be found by clicking here.