*Sigh* Yup. It’s that word again. If you’ve watched any sort of television or have a hand in some form of social media, you’ve heard your fair share of arguments for (and begrudgingly some against) feminism. Feminism, by definition, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. Sounds awesome, right? Right. But there is a major pitfall found in mainstream feminism that we need to talk about, and the conversation has to start now.
So, let’s talk about white feminism. More often than not, this is the brand of feminism found in mainstream media. White feminism, according to the definition I mentioned above, would be “the advocacy of WHITE women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. White feminism is feminism for the “average woman”, and completely disregards women of every marginalized community. That means that it is exclusive of women of color, queer women, trans women, disabled women, and women of social, cultural, and religious minorities. Something to consider: women of color make up 40% of the female-identifying population in the United States as of 2015. It’s hard not to see why white feminism would be harmful to those it doesn’t fight for. This exclusion of major groups can sometimes come from a place of racism or bias, but more often than not, this exclusion isn’t intentional – people simply just aren’t aware of the ways intersecting identities can affect a woman’s experience. So how can we go about combatting exclusive feminism?
The first step in making feminism inclusive is education. Do your research! Think of all the ways a white woman’s experience in the U.S. differs from that of an African-American woman’s. The same goes for the experiences of all different types of women who are grossly underrepresented in the media. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
The second step is dissemination. Use all that you have learned to educate others! Join local organizations that believe in the same things you do, and help them in their efforts to eradicate exclusive feminism and institutionalized sexism as a whole! There is so much power in knowledge, and there is so much more power in sharing that knowledge with others.
Finally, we have solidarity. To stand in solidarity means to support one another. Just because you may not fully understand another person’s struggle does not mean you can’t be there to stand by them and support them! But it also important to know your place, and know when it is someone else’s fight. Equality will never be achieved if we don’t support each other, regardless of the things that make us different. In the end, we are all fighting for the same things.
Just remember: feminism is awesome, but not when it’s exclusive of nearly half the female-identifying population. Always be mindful of the articles you’re sharing, the people you are supporting, and the things you are saying. Too often, this exclusion is unintentional, and we must be aware and turn our minds towards inclusion. Take the time to educate yourself and others. And finally, stand with one another! Only then can TRUE gender equality be achieved.