The Feminist Prejudice

For every feminist, there is a different type of feminism. This is true of many identifications and labels people wear. There has been what some call the resurgence of the feminist movement and while this is a key in moving towards a more equal nation, there are aspects of this modern day phenomena that need reevaluating.

“White Cis Feminism” has taken a large role in the world as of late. As a white cis woman who recently attended the Women’s March On Washington it became clear why this branch of feminism is an issue in the fight for equality on all fronts.

Are women, including white women, the target of gender-based oppression within the United States? Yes.

This is made clear through statistics and figures related to the wage gap, sexual violence, and many other factors.

That does not mean all gender-based prejudice is the same, far too often trans and non-binary folk are left out of the conversation. K. Rivera, a local resident who attended the Boston march, spoke to this regarding the march “I could see where people who did not fall within the binary or date people within the binary would feel excluded. We need to think of everyone within the movement.”

In the past few months, feminists worldwide have been reclaiming the word pussy. It’s a new sign of strength, go vaginas, far and wide, create your magic, don your pussyhat proudly. Yet let’s also recognized that not all women have vaginas. Transwomen may not be living with the body part that is considered the female part of the anatomy. Femininity is about more than the make-up of one’s body. It’s about more than what’s assigned at birth. Reclaiming the word pussy can be a form of empowerment but “we cannot allow for feminism or the movement to be about who has a vagina and who doesn't” said K. Rivera. The movement is about equality for ALL genders, cis, trans, non-binary, etc. It is not about picking and choosing which parts we want because they may or may not affect us directly.  

Racial privilege has provided an opportunity for some white women to see their own struggle while bleeping out the marginalization of others. It becomes a one-facet issue. This cannot continue. Audre Lorde puts it best “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”  

At the women’s march in Washington, D.C. there were clear signs of people who were there for the right reason and people who were not. The separation between the two became clear when Angela Davis took the stage. A Woman of Color activist, with social justice credentials pages long (including connection to the Black Panther movement), spoke towards the end of the rally. The event had gone on for longer than was planned. The lineup of speakers was something out of an activists fantasy yet people in the crowd started to lose steam, and with some lost sight of the reason we were there. Members in the crowd started chanting over Davis. They wanted to march and they wanted to march now. This occurred to other speakers as well, including Judith Leblanc of the Native Organizers Alliance, but did not happen once to any white speaker. These women, speaking of their experiences with prejudice, speaking of how we must unify as a nation, who spoke of their oppression not as victims but as fighters of injustice, were denied the respect of a unified audience.

This is not equality. This is a form of racism under the guise of social justice. We cannot fight for one injustice without recognizing that other struggles exist. Which not only includes the intersectionalities worn on the surface of our bodies, but those that lay inside as well.

K. Rivera spoke of how to proceed in very clear terms “feminists need to show up for other causes, they need to be organizing for everyone”. Proceeding with this means being aware of how the actions of the privileged affect the lives of those who are not. It means not simply identifying as a feminist, but practicing intersectional feminism.

The future is uncertain. Support a better world by standing with those who face prejudice, not speaking for them. Ensure that those who choose to fight against injustice have support and a platform on which to stand. Leave the savoir act at home and simply listen to the struggles of those who are of the minority.

Feed no prejudice, practice no oppression, learn the value of social justice, the cost of privilege and let’s move forward. Together.