What Does It Mean to Be a “Good Feminist?”

 

We are in a day and age in which the feminist movement has real backing and support: celebrities and major media outlets have claimed to be a part of it. Figures like Taylor Swift and Emma Watson have made the ideas of feminism more mainstream and palatable to middle North America. Feminism has also gained strength with the #MeToo movement coming to the forefront. Hollywood has become the latest battlefront for the feminist movement, but has it bleached it first?

Some of the biggest criticism of the feminist movement from within it is stems from the lack of representation for anyone who isn’t a white straight cis woman. And even if you make the argument that it shouldn’t matter what women represent it, you have to realize the issues of other women are being overlooked. For example, the wage gap is not the same for white women and women of colour. Statistically, women of an ethnic background other than white make significantly less than white women, who themselves already make only about 80 percent of what their male counterparts do.

The mainstream, suburbs-friendly feminism appeases the conservatives to get them on board; it can’t seem too extreme. Coming in talking about racial issues and trans rights can turn some people away. Once they’re indoctrinated into white feminism, then they will slowly recognize the complex issues in feminist ideology, right? Nope.

 

 

If we want to stand up for women, we have to do so for all women. This includes spending time on issues that do not touch white middle-class women and are largely ignored. We can’t leave a woman behind. The #MeToo movement is amazing, but still has basically ignored the fact that Indigenous women have the highest rate of rape. And I’m not saying that the stories we’ve heard so far aren’t important: what I’m saying is you have to include everyone and all the facts. So far, mainly only powerful rich white women have gotten a voice on this issue.

As a feminist, you need to take the time to pay attention to the oppression of all women, not just the group you are in. And popularizing only white feminism isolates many people from the movement—not only women from different racial backgrounds, but also trans women, who are largely forgotten and dismissed. Instead of creating divides among us, we need to accept and celebrate that we are all women. Because even if our plights are not exactly the same, we all understand what it is to be a woman in this world.

So how can you be a “Good Feminist?” Well, that’s a sticky question, but it really has a fairly simple answer: be inclusive and work to practice intersectional feminism. Although I hate the idea that there are good and bad feminists, we have to recognize all the issues in the movement. But I wouldn’t say there are bad or good feminists because most women are just working for equality and may not even be aware that some groups are being pushed aside. Being more aware of the other issues that women face allows women to be a force together, helping one woman or one group helps all of us.