Within light of Mabel Jansens racist comments , I thought I’d do a post on White Feminism. We currently exist within a culture that regrets and denies us the right to speak about race issues within the movement.
The term white feminism itself has created quite a stir from both feminists and non feminists. Most complaints come from white women who feel that they’ve been generalised or discriminated against. What a lot of white women need to realize, however is that although they are disadvantaged as women, they are in a privileged position as white woman. Just like with white men, white women need to unlearn racism.
The problem with white feminism is that it creates the illusion that feminism is a Eurocentric ideology. This doesn’t only chase women of color away from the movement, but it also pushes the idea that feminism is an exclusive movement reserved only for white women.
Issues with white feminists begin with othering and end with the “saviour complex”, assuming that white feminists from the Third World have the duty to save non white women from their “oppressive and subordinate” position in non white communities. If you haven’t already realised what’s wrong with this, let me spell it out for you; We are tired of being treated like children. Women of color are not incapable of defending themselves, in fact we are more than capable and have been successfully doing it for thousands of years. The history of gender equality movements didn’t start in Europe or as a result of white women, in fact they existed long before the first wave of feminism in Europe.
Honestly, If you feel the need to help amplify the voices of w.o.c that’s all well, but it’s not okay to assume an authoritative position over the lives of these women.
Another thing that white feminists need to realize is that its not okay to force your brand of freedom onto other women. While mini skirts may seem liberating to you, burkhas might be liberating to another.
This is why we are tired of you using us as a reference point in your arguments or the default definition of oppression. Saying things like “feminism is necessary because women in Nigeria can’t go to school” is problematic because by saying that you are not helping Nigerian women and neither does that comment reveal that you have any plans to help those women, you’re simply using their oppression to make your point.
You have a problem if you can’t formulate a simple opinion without trampling over other women.
Mabel Jansen is a perfect example of white feminism. In her racist rant she repeatedly referred to ideas of othering; pointing out rape in someone else’s culture and then assuming that your culture is somehow superior is by definition racism.
It’s odd, if not absolutely absurd, to say that you believe in gender equality while being a racist.
I feel that it’s extremely important for us to create dialogue around race in order to maintain both relevance and unification in the movement. It’s of utmost importance to move away from classical and harmful ideas of feminism in order to build and better and more equal world.