a form of "feminism" that prioritises the issues of and denies the privileges of abled, white, cisgender, hetero Western/Anglo women, while ignoring to outwardly denying the issues of disabled, Black/brown, trans, queer women; actively denies intersectional forms of oppression including but not limited to racism, sexism, transmisia, Islamomisia, queermisia.
White feminism is a tool of white supremacy, as it reinforces the power and default/idealised setting of whiteness.
- White feminists marching in the Women's March but absent for #BlackLivesMatter, and/or calling cops on Black/brown people for no reason other than existing.
- White feminists ensuring that there is women represented on a panel, but being fine if the panel is still all white, able-bodied, cisgender, etc.
- White feminists appropriating yoga, colonising its purpose from meditation to weight-loss, or improving vanity and outward appearance by white Westernised, able-bodied beauty standards.
- White feminists supporting "women's empowerment" for choice, while sex work-shaming.
- White feminists supporting "women's choices" while participating in fat-shaming or otherwise reinforcing conventional Western/Anglo beauty standards.
- White feminists employing microaggressions, weaponised compliments, or white women tears to invalidate the lived experiences of Black/brown women.
- White feminists aligning with their whiteness as a "pick me", denying the intersectional issues that they do not face, but other multiply marginalised women do.
- White feminists calling attention to reproductive rights, while actively using trans-exclusive language (such as, associating menstrating with womanhood).
- White feminists exploit the duality of both being presented as someone can do no harm, while actively doing harm to multiply marginalised women.
Not all white women are necessary white feminists. However, as white feminism is a tool of white supremacy, it is one that every white woman (and white-/woman- presenting person) receives at birth by nature of their appearance as a form of white privilege. Furthermore, every white woman is empowered to use it to reinforce the power of the white supremecist capitalist patriarchy.
For a white woman to not be a white feminist, they must engage in actively dismantling their unearned privilege and fight their engrained nature. This usually involves learning how to become anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-transmisic, etc.
While it is not a white feminist's fault that they were born into, indoctrinated with, and socialised to use white feminist tools, it is their responsibility to examine and to unpack the harm they can intentional and unintentionally commit. Just like it's not minoritised women's fault that they were born into bodies that are harmed by white feminism.
White feminists can come in any gender, ability, race, orientation, nationality. White men benefit from supporting white feminism and white feminists, as it supports white supremacy. For Black/brown folks, the white feminism may take a form of internalised oppression and require a decolonialisation of self to understand.
Other forms of oppression do not negate this white privilege. So, a disabled white woman still is indoctrinated with the power of and benefits from white feminism and white privilege, at the harm of Black/brown disabled women. Same goes for size-privilege, etc.
Black/brown women's issues become secondary and subordinate to the needs of white women. White feminism only advances white women, and often at the harm of Black and brown women and minoritised genders. In fact, often, once the needs of white women are met, Black/brown women are left behind.
White feminism destroys the work against integrated and intersectional dismantling of the white supremecist capitalis patriarchy and kyriarchy.
What To Do
If you suspect you might be a white feminist, examine your brand of feminism.
- What privileges do you possess that other women do not?
- How have you reinforced the systems of oppression (intentionally or unintentionally)?
- When reading feminist texts or thinking of feminist icons, who are you centring? Who is missing?
If you are white, examine your own white fragility. Reading Black feminist and womanist texts by authors like Angela Davis, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde is a good place to start.
Non-binary, agender, gender non-conforming, and other gender minoritised people are often neglected in traditional feminist rhetoric. In this entry, we've explicitly not conflated and used the term "non-binary people and women" as many non-binary people do not like being lumped in with women. Exploring the nuance between even Black/brown women and Black/brown non-binary people, as one example, requires separate subtext beyond the scope of this singular definition.
In our definition of women, we include trans women, because trans women are women.