White feminism is a term that refers to an expression of feminism that only focuses on the peculiarities of white women, whilst totally ignoring the struggles of women of colour. By default, the idea of white feminism marginalizes black women and other women of colour and refuses to acknowledge their struggle for equality. A lot of women agree that it is inconsistent with the core values of feminism to practice white feminism. Feminism believes in the equality of all women, irrespective of their race.
It is important to understand the significance of intersectional feminism and its beauty of it. The truth is in all our differences in race, colour, class, ability, we still experience similar problems as women, fight similar battles every day, as we navigate the oppressive systems and structures in our societies. Hence, we must see ourselves as equals, as we seek the same equality from the world.
White feminism comes strong at us, daily in our lives and if you’re not careful, you may get entangled in it. Here’s how white feminism can sneak into your life and how you can stop it.
You don’t believe there is such a thing as white feminism
Is the sky blue? Yes, and white feminism exists. White feminism is real, and it definitely exists. There are so many white feminists who believe feminism shouldn’t include women of colour. Hence, you must call out any appearance of white feminism and speak up against it. If not, you’ll be enabling systemic racism.
You jump to the defence of white feminists
If you support a cause, it’s only right that you jump to its defence. So if become defensive at the sound of white feminism, that means you are a core supporter. As a white person, it is important that you examine and admit that you have certain privileges, and acknowledge that other women of colour do not have those. Acting defensive when you are called out for exhibiting traits of white feminism only reiterates the fact that you are.
You only show up for women like you
Feminism recognizes all women as equals, regardless of their status, religion, race, ethnicity, etc. So, if you only show up for women who look like you, then perhaps you are not a feminist. It is okay to naturally linger towards women who have the same shared experiences as you but be careful that this doesn’t become a bias against other women.
You only care about performative inclusion of women of colour
If you only include women of colour to “seem inclusive” when in reality you don’t care for them, then you are a white feminist. Ask yourself this question, “are you including women of colour just because you don’t want to seem like a racist?” or “do you actually care about their views and struggles?” White feminism can be very tricky a lot of times, and it is very easy to see it masquerade as intersectional feminism. Hence, it is important to ensure that you constantly check yourself and ask these questions as often as you can.
You police the tone and actions of women of colour
If you constantly police the tone and actions of women of colour to discredit them, then maybe you are a white feminist. If you are constantly trying to deflect and downplay the feelings of black women and other women of colour, then you need to check yourself. For a change, try to de-centre yourself and your experience when other women are speaking up about their experiences. Also, focus on what the women are saying, rather than what “tone” they are saying it in.
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