Feminism has been on the rise for some time now. If you turn on the news, browse articles online or are just on Twitter, there is almost always someone using the term. With the recent popularity of feminism, there is the opportunity to learn about what the movement is and who it encompasses. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “1. the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” and “2. organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Not many people would disagree with these definitions.
However, the movement has evolved, and with this growth we have been able to see the flaws from within. It is clear that too often the conversation of feminism is run by cis-gendered, white women. With the realization of the silenced voices of many women came the creation of the term “white feminism.”
White feminism is the lack of the recognition of intersectionality. This leaves out the struggles of women of color, queer women, transgender women and basically anyone who does not identify as a cis, white woman. Feminism encompasses all women, and the fights to earn more respect and fundamental rights includes all of those women we do not hear from because of white feminism. This is a problem because the voices that are being silenced belong to those whose experiences in society are much harsher due to not having the privilege that comes with being white.
White feminism is creating a divide among women and not allowing everyone to see the big picture of just how much all women are hurt by the misogynistic society we live in. Jennifer Lawrence was praised for her short essay regarding the wage gap in Hollywood. In the essay, she talked about how upsetting it was to find out how much less she was making in comparison to her male counterparts. The wage gap between men and women is a hot topic, and most have heard the statistic that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 78 cents.
Lawrence (and most other sources who have touched on the matter) forgot to mention that not all women are so lucky. African-American women make only 64 cents to a man’s dollar, and Latinas only make 56 cents. These numbers are commonly looked over because there is an unconscious acceptance that the standard for women is a white woman. This doesn’t take into consideration the gap between what transgender and queer women make compared to men, and these women don’t even have job security sometimes because their states don’t offer laws that protect them from losing said jobs due to their sexuality or gender expression.
As a queer, Latina feminist I’d like to provide some advice for any white feminists reading this piece. Please remember that the feminist movement was mobilized by women of color. Bell Hooks and Angela Davis would not be happy about the belittling of their fellow women of color. Feminism is meant to be all-inclusive, and white feminism pushes us further and further away from bridging the problems women face from being raised in a misogynistic society. The fight for respect and civil rights for women has to be a united front. All kinds of women — regardless of color, sexuality, gender, ability, social class, etc. — need to be uplifted through your efforts in feminism.
Alejandra studies general studies . She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.