How To Be a White Feminist Without Practicing White Feminism

As a white woman who has been enlightened to the disparities in modern feminism, I felt it was important to share this for all the ladies (and gents) out there who need to level up their feminist game. Feminism is deeper than bridging the gap between men and women’s inequalities — or at least it should be. In order to broaden the scope of feminism and give it the space it needs to take a serious, secure foothold in society, we need to talk about White Feminism, what it is, and how you can help. 

So, What is White Feminism?

image of black women from unsplash for articles on the recent protests Photo by Clarke Sanders from Unsplash

In short, White Feminism is the focus on the struggle of the modern white woman and the exclusivity of women of color and other ethnic backgrounds. The root of the issue is that feminism is meant to speak for and promote all women, yet it fails to represent sexism and racial issues faced by non-white women. The problems of a white woman are not always the same as those of a Black woman, or an Asian woman, or a Hispanic woman, etc.

It isn’t leveling the playing field between men and women when women are not all starting at the same place — different women need different platforms. For example, closing the wage gap between men and women is a formidable fight, but it fails to recognize that within that wage gap, women of color make statistically less than white women. We also discuss healthcare and Planned Parenthood, but fail to actively shed light on the devastating treatment of Black women by health professionals. By ignoring the voices of women of color we only suppress them further, and that's not the goal. Feminism cannot be successful until it stands for the progress, understanding and achievement of all women.

If this is the first time you’re truly realizing this downfall of feminism, it’s okay! It's okay to not know. If you are willing to learn and grow, we all have to start somewhere. From here, it's important that you make the conscious effort to keep in mind those that are different than you as you continue on your feminist journey. Here are some things that you can do to be the feminist that you need to be. 

  1. 1. Educate yourself

    Do your research! There are a plethora of articles, journals and statistics on this topic. The best way to keep yourself on top of things is to stay informed. Don’t just settle for understanding the definition of White Feminism; there are so many perspectives to examine this from. Read about the areas of feminism that are lacking in inclusivity, but take it a step further and fact check the statistics you’re presented with or discover your own — they’re staggering. You could go even deeper and delve into these ideas from a psychosocial perspective, to uncover the ways in which feminism can be a damaging disconnect, mentally and socially, for women of color.

  2. 2. Talk about it 

    The best way to make sure something important gets the attention it deserves is to discuss it. Talk about it with your family, friends, coworkers and anyone that will listen. Communication is key, and opening up a dialogue to keep yourself and others informed is crucial. When used properly, social media is an immensely useful and effective tool in this day and age. An issue with social media is that it's very easy for someone to put on a facade through a post that they're all for inclusivity and support all women, but in real life, they're unaware and uneducated. That’s why it's important to have direct communication, whether it be online or in person, because we have to really hear each other.

  3. 3. Vote

    With the presidential election on the horizon, this is more important than ever, but this is not limited to the November election. Vote in every Congressional, state and local election too! We need to see people in office who take into consideration all individuals from all backgrounds, and who aren’t so narrow-minded as to believe that we all walk the same paths in life. Go into the voting booth with your values in mind. If you’re walking in as a feminist, make sure your decision reflects that. Ensure that you choose to cast your vote for someone that does not only represent a certain race, ethnicity or gender, but someone that has a message and values that tend to be inclusive and opportunistic for all. It's vital that you understand the meaning behind what you stand for and that you actively promote it in everything you do, and the voting booth is a great place to start.

Photo of people at work putting their hands on top of each other Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Feminism should be the foundation that brings us all together, but as a movement for women, we are failing our women. Dismantling White Feminism does not mean slowing the progression of white women. It simply means opening the floor to other women and standing behind them in their fight as well. The significance of feminism relies on its ability to empower all women, not just white women. This is a movement that needs to resonate with all women, because we're more powerful together. We are fighting for justice and acceptance, not further deepening divides.