Those who align themselves with this exclusive, one-sided fragment of women’s movement can take a seat
Feminism—one word and a single straightforward concept—has morphed into something so polarizing, it begs the question: when the hell did things get so complicated? Throw in terms like “white feminism” and all the more the plot thickens.
At the heart of the women’s movement (and let us not forget), feminism remains to be a call for equality. This is and always will be its definition. And it’s as plain and simple now as it is back then. It was just as plain and simple when Dutch politician Wilhelmina Drucker first made a case for women’s rights in the 1800’s. All she wanted was for men and women to have equal footing in sectors like education, labor, marriage, legislation and other things deemed basic and fundamental today. It was plain and simple when American journalist Gloria Steinem co-founded the Women’s Media Center that operates to “raise the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women and girls in media and, thereby, ensuring that their stories get told and their voices are heard.”
So where is the confusion? It lies in society trying to arrive at that one same goal through different ways and means. We’ve got the “what”; we’ve got the “why,” but we aren’t only caught up in the “how” and the many forms it comes in. We all can’t seem to agree. This is how the true meaning feminism is sullied in this day and age; it’s often turned into a vehicle for extremism, personal vendettas or prejudice passed off as progress. In the hands of the malicious or misinformed or ignorant, it’s mishandled, misused and misconstrued. White feminism is a prime example of that.
White feminism is the unfortunate brand of feminism that only seems to serve the white middle-class, able-bodied cisgender woman. The women who subscribe to this are, of course, very much on-brand: They’re white, able-bodied, cisgender women belonging to the middle to upper-middle class. In other words, they’re self-serving. They’ll scream “girl power!” and “women’s rights!” with gusto so long as the issues at hand directly affect them.
Oftentimes, they are unaware of the fact that their being white means they’ve hit the lottery and their struggles are a cake walk compared to what marginalized communities have to deal with. Imagine being a brown-skinned queer woman from the working class and having a privileged white woman tell you not just what inequality is, but how we’re going to fight the good fight. Doesn’t seem the least bit fair, does it?
Feminism is a call for gender equality but an understanding, at the same time, that there is more to injustice and inequality than a single person, gender or race’s take on them.
Art Alexandra Lara