What #WhiteFeministRants Can Teach Everyone About Feminists

Nothing says unity like taking potshots at your allies. The internet tends to bring out the worst in people, and Twitter seems to be adept at doing this to liberals. The amount of snarky, petty sniping many liberals engage in on Twitter boggles the mind. If they spent less time making catchy hashtags to attack each other they would have more time to actually change things.

For example, Barb Moreno wrote about the recent hashtag #WhiteFeministsRants. Feminist Twitter users wrote various tweets mocking white feminists’ position on race. Moreno decided to take on some of the issues mentioned in a handful of tweets, but ironically revealed part of the problem feminism has as an ideology and movement.

Her first example:

1. The privilege the tweets keep mentioning isn’t money, it’s race.

White people (including White Women) earn more money than minorities, and, yes, money puts you in a position of privilege. However, the reason they can earn more money is because the system is set up for them to benefit that way. I’m a white Puerto Rican, and I know my whiteness had a lot to do with my success in my career, even though my background is from the inner city of Chicago. Those in power, who tend to be white, saw me as one of them. I wasn’t different. I could be just like them. So, when it comes to saying that all women struggle with careers in the same way, is racist. White women have it easier even if it doesn’t appear that way to you.

How does she know that for certain? Moreno may be able to pass as white, but she is not white. She has not lived that life and seen things through “white eyes.” How could she possibly know how much easier things are for white women? Let us assume that in general white women have an easier time getting work than minority women. That does not mean all white women have it so easy. Are there no poor white women? No ethnic white women who people may be more inclined to look down on? Every white women brims with privilege no matter what?

2. Fighting against oppression doesn’t stop when people who look Like you succeed.

Feminism is about oppression. True. However, that’s not the only oppression going on in the world, and neither is it the worst. White women might not have been able to work in the 1800’s, but chances are they had lots of people, like slaves, working for them, which means they benefited from slavery (and its intrinsic racism) just as much as white men. So, just fighting to see women who look like you in positions of power is racist.

Hold on. Let us stop at the first sentence: Feminism is about oppression. If I know my English well, that statement implies that feminism is specifically about oppressing other people. I am sure that is not what Moreno meant.

She goes on to say that unspecified oppression is not the only one or the worst one in the world. Really? What feminists make that argument? Where in feminist literature do we see an admission that other forms of oppression are as bad or worse than the oppression of women? When do we see feminists actively addressing those other forms without tying it back to how women belonging to those other oppressed groups have it worse than men?

Moreno’s slavery example is valid but outdated. And to be honest, it is unlikely that many feminists would accept the notion that 19th century white women benefited from slavery as much as 19th century white men. After all, apparently non-white feminists cannot get white feminists to agree that modern white women benefit from modern racism as much as modern white men.

Yet, the last line of Moreno’s comment is the most enlightening. If just fighting to see women who look like you get into positions of power is racist, would that not also apply to feminist women of color who only fight for other women of color? Or is it only racist when white women do it?

3. There is an other or lessening of other cultures that are not white/euro-centric.

Asian men, or any other race of men, aren’t inherently worse than White men at oppressing women. By saying Asian men are more sexist, you are being racist.

I have no idea what the tagline means. What is a “lessening of other cultures” and how is that phrase itself not racist?

Speaking of racism, is it not racist to imply that white men are more sexist than other men?

Then we get to number four:

4. No one needs saving.

Why are you being mean to me? I am just trying to save you. #WhiteFeministRants

— Ramah Kudaimi (@ramahkudaimi) February 1, 2014

There are feminist struggles everywhere, and they are all based on the idea that women and men are equal. However, they manifest themselves in different ways and are in different stages. Just because they don’t match western (white) feminism does not make them less feminist. Saying that Muslim feminism isn’t good because it’s not exactly white feminism is racist.

No, it is not racist because Islam is not a race; it is a religion. The word Moreno is looking for is “Middle Eastern” or “Arab.” This is part of the problem many liberals suffer from when they try to be clever. They never bother learn whether the words they use mean what they think they mean.

Secondly, all feminist struggles are not based on the idea that women and men are equal. Many of them are based on the idea that women are superior and that men are oppressors. If feminism is supposed to be about sexual equality, then any variant that is not based around that idea is inherently less feminist.

5. You need to stop talking about PoC’s struggles and open up space (and a good amount) for them to be able to do it themselves.

Know who knows about black women’s struggle? Black women! Stop trying to figure out what Black women (or other WoC) want addressed and just invite them to the conversation and let them talk. White women can’t control the narrative of feminism all the time, and by doing that you are being racist.

Oh the irony… Is this not the same complaint that scores of men make about feminists, particularly male survivors of abuse? Do we not constantly see feminists speaking on behave of groups they know very little about? And when members of those groups ask for a seat at the table and ask to be allowed to talk on their own terms, do we not see feminists attempting to control the narrative of feminism and society in general all the time?

This is not racism. It simply bigoted arrogance.

This attitude that feminism has all the answers and does not need to hear from anyone about it is not unique to its treatment of black women. Feminists do this everyone. Maybe more feminists would be less inclined to do it if other feminists called them out on it when they did it to male survivors, gay men, and various religious groups.

If you turn a blind eye when your feminist friends do it to other people, do not be surprised when they try to do it to you.

6. Briefly learning about oppression, does NOT make you an expert

 

Dreadlocks don’t make you black. Seeing “12 Years a Slave” doesn’t equate to you knowing EVERYTHING about this country’s history of systemic racial oppression. Yes, it taught you something, but not everything. So, don’t go around talking as if learning a couple things makes you ‘really’ understand PoC’s struggles. Equating liking a genre of music or having a specific hairstyle does not make you that race. There’s more to belonging to a race of people than those two aspects. Assuming so makes you racist.

Perhaps Moreno means people should not do things like writing this: “There are feminist struggles everywhere, and they are all based on the idea that women and men are equal. However, they manifest themselves in different ways and are in different stages. Just because they don’t match western (white) feminism does not make them less feminist. Saying that Muslim feminism isn’t good because it’s not exactly white feminism is racist.”

You know, because she is not an expert on the Muslim “race.”

Here is the thing: the point of the film 12 Years a Slave is to show to some extent what that experience was like. It is to get people to empathize. While one film will not make a person an expert, it can reveal to them how serious the situation was at that time. To smack down someone who begins to empathize with a group they previously misunderstood is stupid and counterproductive.

More so, simply belonging to a group does not make one an expert on said group. Yes, the person may know general things about their community that an outsider might not, but not everything.

Likewise, it is ironic for anyone to claim that a hairstyle or genre of music has nothing to do with race when we constantly see the notion that they are intrinsically tied to race reinforced in our society, particularly by members of those racial and ethnic groups.

Dreadlocks are seen as a specific racial hairstyle. Hip hop and country music are seen as specific racial music genres. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot say that a black person who wears dreads and listens to hip hop is expressing their racial culture and then blast non-black people who think they are adopting the culture by doing the same thing.

Moreno has a point that there is more to race than two aspects, however, is it not the liberal position that race is, like a person’s sex, just a social construct? If so, would that not mean that anyone who adopts the aspects associated with a given race now belongs to that race?

Moreno ends with:

So, for those that don’t get why you are being called racist on Twitter, that’s it right here, and if you go back to Twitter and read all the other tweets tagged #WhiteFeministRants, you’ll learn much more. Hopefully, you’ll learn to accept your privilege and use it to help fight against the oppression of others.

Other than learning that the people writing those tweets bath in sophomoric snark and petty backbiting, there is not much else to learn.

Actually, that is not true. There is something else to learn: these are the people who would be your allies. These people claiming to be your friends will at the first sign of weakness promptly shoot you in the face and then wait for you to apologize to them for getting in the way of their buckshot. These people are supposed to be your allies, and yet the first response to you saying something they took the wrong way is to demand you admit you are privileged, racist, and oppressive.

What #WhiteFeministRants teach everyone about feminists is that are full of a lot of talk but very little merit.

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3 thoughts on “What #WhiteFeministRants Can Teach Everyone About Feminists

  1. I wonder if you regard minorities as oppressors in your worldview. White women have one/fourth the unemployment rates as black men, and I know from experience that they are often the “preferred” hire. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also report that white women earn more than 80 percent of what white men make–a huge leap from 1970–while the percentage for black males has barely shifted since 1970, despite all those million dollar athletes. In fact, earnings for black and Hispanic women has risen so sharply since 1970 that there is near parity between black and Hispanic men and women–yet it is still only 0ne-third that of white males. What this tells us is that race IS the predominate factor, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not–and white women especially, despite their complaints.

  2. What this tells us is that race IS the predominate factor, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not–and white women especially, despite their complaints.

    That tends to be the case. White women experience the least discrimination of all the discriminated groups. It is often difficult for them to see, yet it remains true. White women do tend to be the preferred hires in many fields, they receive preferential treatment when it comes to crimes, and they are often the face of special interest concerns. Ten missing, possibly abused boys will get far less media coverage and social concern than one blonde former Disney star getting another DUI.

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