By Jessica Bokete (@jess.bokete)
What is feminism? What is white feminism? What is intersectionality? These are questions that heard too often, and to understand the feminist movement, it’s important to explain the difference between intersectional feminism and white feminism.
White feminism is mainstream feminism – think of it as ‘one size fits all’ feminism. It does not take into account the experiences of women who are not white, cisgender and straight. This is problematic as it assumes that the way white women face discrimination is the same way all women experience discrimination. White feminism ignores current race-related issues. It fails to interrogate important questions surrounding the treatment of women of colour, police brutality and other race issues. White feminism portrays white women as the face of feminism and this further excludes marginalised women. If this still isn’t making any sense here are few examples: Nicki Minaj posts a tweet about the VMAs snubbing her in a category (which she so rightly deserved to be a part of) and Taylor Swift swoops in to ‘save’ her fellow women. Instead of taking the time to understand what Nicki was pointing out about an industry which is harsh toward black women, Taylor automatically assumed the tweet was about her. Pause. Now do you see the problem? Taylor overlooking Nicki’s experience as a black woman in Hollywood completely defeated the purpose of feminism. Not all white feminists think like Taylor, but many white feminists do and this is the problem.
In order to rectify the exclusion created by white feminism we need intersectional feminism. Intersectional feminism recognises that women do not face the same forms of discrimination. It realises that there are various characteristics which influence women’s lives such as race, sexuality, economic status, religion and disability. Intersectional feminism emphasises the need to create spaces where women of colour, LGBT women and other marginalised women’s voices can be heard. See why intersectional feminism is cooler?
Feminism is about teamwork, and for intersectional feminism to be successful, white feminists are going to have to take the initiative to learn about issues that they do not understand. This means understanding that feminism goes beyond ending sexism and that its core aim is to end the interconnected discrimination which women face. Think of it as a learning experience. Intersectional feminism does not aim to silence white feminists – rather it aims to inform them. It also requires that white feminists pay more attention to the experiences of all women.
Bear in mind people, none of this means that white feminists are evil. It just means that they have a lot to learn. Intersectional feminism is not here to make you feel comfortable, it is here to ask hard questions and to make a change. Embracing intersectional feminism is not an easy process and it’s okay to make mistakes. So prepare yourself for some awkward tumbles and painful challenges. On the bright side, you won’t be alone. You’ll have all kinds of women supporting you.
Photo Sourced: Everyday Feminism