There is a danger in the way feminism works.
I should elaborate.
There is a danger in the way white feminism works.
Everywhere we look there is something in the media. Reminding us of its unwillingness to take up how race, class and gender impact womanhood.
Take a look at the recent Pepsi advert in which Kendall Jenner leaves her modelling gig and joins a protest. She hands over a can of Pepsi to a white male officer who in turn receives it, turns to his colleague and smiles.
I can’t believe Kendall Jenner single-handedly stopped police brutality with a can of Pepsi. We should have been doing this from the start, guys!
Not only has Pepsi trivialised the Black Lives Matter movement, but they have given a white face to these protests and placed people of colour as side characters. Pepsi managed to further the erasure people of colour already experience in their daily lives. It’s like they’re saying, “All you need is a White Saviour™.”
We have to be mindful that feminism is not a one-type-fits-all, as much as the media would love for it to be.
For example, a white woman will not have the same experience as a black woman. However, trying to place everyone’s experience in a one-size-fits-all feminist view is erasing the experience of black women and other women of colour.
As Kimberlé Crenshaw wrote, “Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated. […] Similarly, feminism must include an analysis of race if it hopes to express the aspirations of non-white women.”
Look at it this way: white women need to fight for women of colour and men need to fight for women so that we can fight against the different types of oppression equally.
“My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” – Flavia Dzodan
P.S. DO NOT trust companies’ “progressive” ads. They don’t care about you. They only care about sales.
I may sound like a whiney bitch but I am merely here to state facts. As a woman, I am at the bottom of the shit pile. As a black woman, I’m probably below the bottom of the shit pile, like 2 or 3 metres below. Just for being black I am deemed as unattractive, unintelligent and just not womanly enough but that’s not the main issue here.
My feminism is not everyone’s feminism – white feminism doesn’t always include me. It skips past the issues that might be very important to me.
Let’s take it back to the women’s march that happened on a pretty much global scale. I was happy that it took place and I am so happy that women were able to take a stand for what they believe in etc etc etc. BUT I was also very weary and all too aware of how much was being ignored. Where were all these women during the black lives matter protest? Where were all these women when we asked them so stand with us in solidarity for other causes? Where was the police protection when we needed it? Why are we seen as a threat if we do not fit into this perfect ideal?
I have also found that certain demographics have feminism that is very sexually focused. Yes, I get it, pussy power yadda yadda yadda. But coloured women are still fighting for basic human rights. The people who are more likely to be at a disadvantage because of the way life is set up are women of colour (I hate that phrase but needs must); your pussy power isn’t really helping a woman who has been forced to flee her country because of lack of basic human rights. Maybe we should start with that first?
Can we also discuss why women aren’t seen as equal? Let’s just throw that one out there. Hypothetically if 100 white women were to be kidnapped (God forbid), what do you think would happen? Global uproar, media outlets on overdrive, money pumped into the police force and the army would be called. Because how can such a monstrosity happen?
Now, this actually happens every day but replace ‘100 white women’ with black women in DC, black women and girls in Nigeria, black women in Lewisham (a borough in London, with an alarmingly high rate of missing black girls). Where is the uproar? Where is the money? Why are we invisible?
I often wonder where the change starts. Then I realised the change cannot start with the oppressed because their voice is already stifled. White women, be accountable for your privilege. You have a lot of it, so let’s talk. We can all be great together! Stop overlooking your amazing counterparts, but stop and listen.
P.S. I’m still mad that a high number of WW voted for Trump, ya’ll really had one job but really what’s my business?
Read our last post on casual misogyny here. Start the series here.
That Pepsi ad did not have proper representation at all. It paints the wrong picture and I am sure the police won’t back down if someone hands them a Pepsi. (If only the world was that simple). I agree that feminism is not a one-for-all sort of package. Everyone experiences different treatment and there are multiple factors that contribute to their experience. One person cannot simply represent everyone. At the same time, if we’re fighting for a cause, we need to fight for everyone- not just a specific group. You have a big point that we all have to fight for each other.
I see an issue where certain people only fight for themselves and not for others. Mutay has a really good point about the type of people who go out for Women’s marches vs. the type of people who go out for Black Lives Matter marches. We have a lot to improve in this world. A lot of WoC + WW are fighting for women’s rights – regardless of skin color. Meanwhile, where are the WP at when there are BLM protests? There’s not really a balance and what kind of message does this bring out?
Its really horrible that stuff like this goes on. And horrible to imagine how long it has been. You’d think by now most would get the picture, but sadly no.
As a man, I found the ‘feminist’ movement interesting and strange at the same time. And as a MAN, it would be hard to be labelled as a ‘typical douchebag filthy man’ that disagrees and disrespects a female. It is timely and refreshing to have your thoughts that are unique and does not need to ‘hijack’ a movement. ‘Some’ feminist movements felt exclusive, rather than inclusive. It does not mean one party is offended that they are right, or whoever shouts the loudest are strong and smart.
I would truly pursue and support equality, empowerment and to value the very basic foundations of humanity. We are in 2017. Yes, there are still tons of stuff to change and could be made better, but we need to this together regardless of gender, race or beliefs.
I love this post!! and yes feminism is definitely not one type fits all. I’m also tired of the “white savior” and how much it gets overlooked, especially in Hollywood. I get even more disappointed when people of color ignore it and instead make movies centered around a white savior because that actor will sell more movies. I meet lots of Asian people who don’t think it’s a big deal when they’re also the ones helping create that problem.
I also agree that within the feminist movement itself, there isn’t an equal playing field. Women don’t get the same opportunities as men but white women still have more privilege than a person of color. And as an Asian person, I also feel like we often get excluded from the race conversation. I remember watching the Oscars a couple years ago when diversity became a “thing” and they did that skit about Asian people, which wasn’t cool at all.
Hopefully things will change in the future and we’ll continue to have conversations about it! Because talking about it, like you guys briefly mentioned the end of the post, is really important.
I actually had a (fairly heated) argument about this with my mom a few days after the Pepsi commercial aired. She felt that the commercial was done “with good intentions” and that people were overreacting, which I told her was problematic for a few reasons, one of them being that corporations that put out “progressive ads” don’t actually have anything in mind besides sales.
After that, I told her practically verbatim to what you said — that commercial sidelined marginalized groups and put a young, affluent white woman at the center, giving her the space to “save the day.” Sure, maybe Pepsi didn’t mean it that way, but that’s the way it came across. And maybe they thought if they didn’t use someone ~young and hip~ like Kendall Jenner the ad wouldn’t stick, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what they meant. It’s what they published.
Feminism for white women really isn’t feminism, and I think it’s important for white women to be very, very aware of what they’re saying when entering into feminist discussions with other women that are not white (or straight, able-bodied, middle class, etc etc). Lately, the conversations surrounding feminism have become so inclusive, and I really hope white women — especially those that are higher in status — begin to see the work they can do for non-white women and women that depend on intersectional feminism. Taylor Swift, I’m looking at you. #QueenOfWhiteFeminism
Oh my god the past two weeks have been such a public relations disaster I cannot even with these companies (Pepsi, United Airlines) and individual (Sean Spicer).
I agree with all of your thoughts. This post reminded me of Kirsten Dunst and Octavia Spencer’s scene in Hidden Figures where Kirsten says “Despite what you may think, I have nothing against you,” and Octavia replies, “I know. I know you probably believe that.”
White women seem like they have no clue regarding the divide between them and POC women in feminism but it does exist because what they experience is different from the latter’s experience.
As much as women generally are oppressed, POC women have it a lot worse because we’re discriminated by race and gender, which is why we have to work harder than most people to be recognized for our skills and talents.
I will never understand how KellyAnne Conway and other white women can stomach Donald Trump. He’s like the epitome of misogyny.
Hamdah and I had this same conversation when we were away actually and I remember talking to my sister about how important it is to hear women of colour’s voices when it comes to inequality. You are bang on point with our views often being ignored or deemed “less worthy” because we aren’t white. I think the Kendall Jenner ad was complete bullshit and just seeing it pop up on my feed sometimes makes me so angry.
It’s made me think of the times in my life that I’ve been treated unfairly because I’m not white. At school, for example, I’d be treated differently by teachers when I asked for the same thing that my white friend asked for. We were both girls. Gender wasn’t the issue, it was the fact that I was different and not white. (I went to a predominately white school growing up) This is applicable to intersectional feminism and should not be tolerated.
And you’re right, with just women of colour talking about how much they need their views to be noticed isn’t enough. We need “white women to fight for women of colour and men need to fight for women so that we can fight against the different types of oppression equally.”
I didn’t hear about the 100 DC case until Hamdah told me about it. My first question was “why isn’t it plastered all over my media feeds and stuff I look at every fucking day?!” If it were white women, that would be a totally different story. It’s exactly like terrorist attacks in France VS those in Libya or Pakistan. Invisible. It’s so frustrating.
The only way we can all move forward and actually see a change is to keep talking about it and what you’re doing by writing about these issues is so important ? I really admire you for continuing these posts!
It can be so crappy how brands try to latch on to current consumer values, but completely miss the mark in terms of addressing the real issues. They usually don’t care about those so much, only what might add brand loyalty or make it look like they are part of the ‘current trend’. Like you mentioned with the Pepsi add, it could have been handled so differently. 🙁
It’s very interesting to read your insights and thoughts and I am really glad you share them.
What an interesting post. I honestly have no clue what’s going on with the Pepsi advert, but I do get the gist of this post. Feminism, like most things, comes in all shapes and sizes. I don’t think one is better than the other, but if women are going to support and empower each other, they need to ensure they are representing every one of us.
I’m not white myself, but I was raised by a white Daddy, so I know a lot of my own mindsets and opinions are white-oriented. And while I do try to take into considerations of racial struggles and inequality, I know I could better educate myself on these issues more.
Thank you for writing this post. It has opened my eyes up to certain topics I wouldn’t have considered.
Feminism is different things to different people, because different people have different experiences. ALL women deserve equality, and to be treated right. Not just the majority and the ones we are used to seeing in the spotlight.
I was giving the topic a lot of thought recently especially in light of fiction novels, and white authors writing from the perspective of women (you might have seen that viral tweet floating around – “describe yourself as a male author would”), but also authors writing in characters of colour or from minority groups. But if these minority groups are misrepresented, if they are being included but not being accurately portrayed, it causes far more harm than good. I truly believe that women who are part of minority groups should be recognised, but they need to step up. They need to step up first and fight for the right to be recognised amongst the rest. Their voices need to be heard and their stories need to be heard. People need to know their stories as it comes from them.
Thank you for writing a post about a controversial but SO important topic ?