So, you’ve been called out for exercising a non-inclusive brand of “white feminism!” Or maybe you’ve seen someone bitterly mocking a white feminist. Or maybe you don’t understand what “womanism” is or why it needs to be a thing. You, my friend, are a white feminist. And contrary to what your knee-jerk reaction may tell you, you’re not a bad person.
There are a few things, though, that you need to keep in mind as a white feminist.
What no one is saying:
* You are a bad person for being white.
* You can help being white.
* Problems that white women face are not real problems.
What they are saying/what you have to acknowledge:
* Though you do not have male privilege, you still benefit from white privilege. No matter what.
* Much of the oppressive acts unleashed on white women have an added layer of horrible when unleashed against a woman of colour. For example, cat calls against WoC often have racial connotations, many creeps on OKCupid virtually stalk Asian women saying horrifically sexist things that are specific to Asian women.
* White women have, historically, been given credit for things that WoC have had larger hands in, and have also had their voices heard more, and valued more.
* Statistics don’t lie: women of colour face higher rates of most atrocities such as vioence and homelessness. Women of colour also go missing at alarmingly high rates but are less likely to receive the same media attention as white women.
Okay, so now that you’re aware, can you ever stop benefitting from that privilege?
* Nope, it doesn’t work that way. I’m privileged, you’re privileged, we’re all a bunch of happy privileged ladies.
But that’s not fair.
* Is it though?
But we’re not all like -
Bree, aren’t you white?
* Yep. White, privileged, and fully acknowledging it.
* Now is probably a good tme to hypothesize that you’re probably paying more attention to this BECAUSE I’m white, and that if I were a WoC you would probably dismiss it as an “angry black woman.” Why do I think this? Well, I used to think that way. Frighteningly enough, not even that long ago.
Well boo-urns. I’m a white feminist. What can I do?
* More like, what should you not do?
Okay, give me your ideas.
* First and foremost, fucking acknowledge that you’re white and you benefit from that privilege.
* Secondly, know that nothing you do can renounce that privilege. Not how many women of colour you befriend, not how many posts like this you write or reblog.
* Don’t expect women of colour to educate you on how to be a better feminist.
* Don’t declare yourself a womanist. Just… Don’t.
* Don’t give problematic white women a free pass just because they’re a woman. Examples include Lady Gaga and Lena Dunham. Know that being oppressed in one way does not take away your power in other ways. This doesn’t mean you have to stop liking every privileged celebrity, just become more aware and more vocal about times when they fuck up and hurt people.
* Don’t speak for women of colour.
* Don’t claim to renounce your whiteness or, heaven forbid, that you are transethnic. Your whiteness is NOT going away.
* Don’t ask “why does it always have to be about race?”
* Don’t do the little trademark thing when you write “white feminist” referring to another white feminist. This implies that it’s only a certain kind of white woman who benefits from white privilege.
Okay, so these are things I’ve learned over the past year from people who have helped me understand just how much advantage I was born with, how much I still have, and how many more problems there are. Thank you to those who have helped me understand that oppression has dozens of intersections, and that we can all be better.