There is an abundance of feminists championing the rights of women. However, not all rights are considered equal. There are women fighting for equal pay, representation, healthcare/abortion rights. While some women are trying to include all female voices, this is not the case with the white feminist.
What is a White Feminist?
“Let’s focus on getting equal pay for women and then we’ll work on getting more representation for you in this field?” The you in this case is usually a minority and the women is usually white women.
They, knowingly or not, consider themselves to be the default. As such, they will push for the rights of women and, if white women are given those rights they consider it a win even if those same rights are denied to minority females. Quite simply, white feminists fight for white women and there are many instances of it displayed, especially on social media.
Yandy and White Feminism
Like white privilege/supremacy isn’t just the blatant racial slurs against minorities but the unconscious biases that are continually displayed by white people, similarly white feminists show those same unconscious biases and push an overall white agenda. For those who claim it doesn’t exist, let’s explore a recent example of white feminism at work with the Handmaid/Yandy controversy.
Yandy released a sexy costume based off the fictitious series The Handmaid’s Tale. Almost immediately Yandy received backlash, with many “feminists” calling it “appalling” and “tone-deaf”. The rage from white women over a costume based off a character was so strong that Yandy pulled the costume and issued an apology.
However, there are an excessive amount of costumes depicting “Sexy Native Americans”, including “Sexy Pocahontas” on the Yandy site (Party City has similar costumes), which is an actual person that existed outside the world of internet tv. Those same white women that railed at the Handmaid costume are distinctly quiet when it comes to the sexy depiction of someone who is not white. They are more concerned with how a fictional white female character is sexualized than a real minority female is.
So, why do they behave this way? Because the white female fiction is in their likeness. They can relate to her; there but for the grace of God and all that. The “Native American” costume they can’t relate to nor do they understand how this portrayal has contributed to the abuse and rapes of Indigenous women existing and trying to survive in the world. They don’t understand that another person’s culture is not meant to be worn as their yearly costume.
After Kavanaugh being voted into SCOTUS, Bette Midler angrily tweeted out a quote from a Yoko Ono song: “Women, are the n-word of the world.” There is a debate that this line in Ono’s song was bitten from the author Zora Neale Hurston. Irregardless of who’s being quoted, Midler couldn’t understand the backlash she received for this quote which, again shows a disconnect, in this case, between white women and black women. She wanted us to look past the word and see the deeper meaning behind her tweet, but didn’t consider the reverse. We are supposed to try to understand where the white women is “coming from” but that same courtesy is rarely given to us. She eventually apologized, after initially doubling down in a second tweet, but one wonders if she fully understood why that tweet was so reprehensible.
The tweet essentially disregards all the suffering and pain black people, more so black women have gone through and continue to experience. In this country, a white women will always fare better than a black women. She will also fare better than a black man. We are not equal in our suffering, particularly when white women over the centuries have aided in the dehumanization of women of color. Just because there is one common thread between us (Roe vs. Wade) does not mean we are the same nor does it mean we will experience the hardships of this or anything else the same. White privilege will make sure of that. As a white women, this tweet basically elevates your pain while throwing your supposed “sisters” under the bus. You will always reap the benefits before a black female when it comes to issues like diversity and rights and you should remain conscious of that to avoid making these false parallels.
Duolingo Gender Ratio
Duolingo recently posted a picture on twitter, congratulating themselves on achieving “50:50 gender ratio” for their new hires. This, on it’s face seems like a great thing. However, when you look at the photo of over 30 women, over 20 are white, a few Asian and there is one that might possibly be black. Duolingo is planning to spread this 50:50 gender ratio companywide and, if it’s anything like this first pic, we can look forward to a ratio of 2:3 in favor of white women, 1:10 for Asian, and 1:30 for black women and other minority groups can likely forget it. How is this positive progress, when the most marginalized communities are once again barely getting in the door?
A lot of companies that want to “diversify”, do so by hiring a slew of white women and deem their plan a success. Black women are typically overlooked for their supposed “divisive, confrontational, angry” attitudes. Black women have struggled for inclusion far longer than white women (how long did it take black women to get the right to vote versus white women) and continue to be disregarded for inclusion. While white women are happy to be included in these companies, how many are arguing for representation of minorities who are grossly underrepresented in contrast to white women?
Is White Feminism Racism?
The short answer is yes. Racism in the U.S. is the system built to elevate white privilege/supremacy whilst keeping every minority down. When a white woman focuses on their rights and the affronts to their image and likeness but have no complaints when a minority experiences the same things or worse, (oftentimes at the hands of white women) you are not for all women. You are for white women and that is what racism essentially is; the belief that you, as a white female, are worthy of rights, respect, equality now while the rest of us should wait.
There’s no easy fix to this. But using why often is a good place to start. Why did I retweet this about the white female who was brutally raped, but not the black female who was also attacked? Why do I get so defensive when asked a few questions about my behavior? Why did I apologize? Is it because a lot of people were mad, or because a lot of white women were mad? Why do I think representation of white women is a success for women? I hate being called emotional and sensitive, so why do I call ethnic women loud and divisive? Why am I more concerned with how something was said than the horrific action that was done?
Ask these questions often. Because we all have biases and the only way we are going to change them is if we ask ourselves why and answer honestly. If you can’t look within to see your shadows that you need to change, how are you going to be able to see all the ones out in the world and cast a light on them?