I’d like to start this off by clarifying that when I talk about white feminism, I’m not referring to white feminists, it’s a brand of feminism that I’m referring to, so please don’t take this as a massive offence or even a racial offence.
What is ‘white feminism’?
The label of white feminism is thrown around a lot, and I’m sure a lot of people don’t actually know what it means, or probably just see it as an attack on white people – which it isn’t. Dictionary.com defines it as:
“White feminism is the label given to feminist efforts and actions that uplift white women but that exclude or otherwise fail to address issues faced by minority groups, especially women of color and LGBTQ women.”
So picture all those feminists who bring a national outcry whenever the wage gap is mentioned, but then fail to include how women of colour get paid even less than white women. Or are surprisingly silent when it comes to issues in Eastern countries like FGM, child marriages and anything that doesn’t really benefit them. It’s sad that the feminist movement is so segregated when it comes to these things, when really it should encompass all the issues of women of colour, LGBT and people suffering from disabilities.
You’d think a movement based on equality and giving everyone the same rights and oppurtunities would focus on all people right? Well, we don’t live in an ideal world, and the type of feminist that focuses on that is called an intersectional one. So basically they consider that people from different parts of society have different issues and lived experiences.
The fact that we need a whole new world for a simple thing is the problem, the fact that white feminism is the brand of popular feminism is a massive issue. Let’s take the wage gap argument that was widespread a few years ago as a good example of highlighting the issues I’ve stated.
White women would scream as loud as possible about how they made 77 cents for every dollar a man made, but there were no facts about how women of colour in America made even less than that. Would that not improve their argument? Well yes, but the movement didn’t care. That’s what the issue with the movement of white feminism is, they continue to ignore the issues of other intersections of women across the world, and it’s a fact that white women have the loudest voices, so why not use the platform to help everyone?
White feminist movements fight the tampon tax by plastering pads on walls to make men uncomfortable, actual feminists would help homeless and poorer women with those pads and donate them. That’s the different between the activism, some women from privileged backgrounds forget that the audacity of the tampon tax is that we have to pay for a natural process, and there are many who can’t afford to purchase the items. So they’re forced to use old rags or free bleed, which leaves them as risk.
Thanks to the criticism of this though a lot of people accused of being a white feminist are working to be better allies and are using their platform and privilege to help everyone, so the world is slowly getting better at dealing with this. Emma Watson is a good example of this, she was heavily accused of only focusing on white issues, and has since come to terms with it. Which takes a lot of guts that not a lot of people have.
I’ll finish this with a really good video that breaks down this issue even better than what I’ve written. 🙂