The Precedent

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A Minute With Mia: White feminism misses force of intersectionality, total inclusion

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Along with the iconic green Shamrock Shakes and the somewhat tolerable temperatures, March also brought us Women’s History Month. In 1987, Congress officially declared March the month of women after pushes from individual states and lobbyists.

The month is to honor the suffragettes of the 1920s that fought for the right to vote. The month is to honor the women who fought for legal equality in the 1950s. It is for the women of the 90s who fought to include minorities and abolish stereotypes. It is for the #MeToo and the Time’s Up survivors of today’s world who are standing up to sexual assault and workplace harassment.

It is for changemakers. It is to remind us that the fight for equality is not over. That the original goal of feminism — social, economic, and political equality of the sexes — is an ongoing struggle.

But there is one roadblock that stands in the way of this goal: white feminism. White feminism centers around white women and issues relevant to them and them alone. This practice actively drowns out the struggles of women of color, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, and otherwise marginalized persons. White feminism looks like the women criticizing hijabs and burkas, calling them “oppressive.” White feminism looks like TV shows with women-of-color either not represented, or in a minor role.

The main reason why white feminism is so toxic is that this movement is making the loudest noise. This is the movement that has garnered the most attention. When someone says the word feminists, the women burning bras and drawing vaginas in chalk are the ones who come to mind. Not Tarana Burke. Not Toni Morrison or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

These women — the true change-makers — are forgotten, lost in the storm of anger and fallacy that has become modern feminism. It is no wonder that according to The Washington Post, only 17 percent of women identify as a feminist, with an equally low 10 percent of men. Those percentages are appalling. Only 17 percent of women and 10 percent of men find it necessary to subscribe to a movement that is fighting for gender equality.

Feminism has a simple goal: equality of the sexes in every facet. Both men and women’s rights. Gender equality. That is what true feminism is about. But as of late, we seem to be straying from those ideals.

White feminists are fighting for equal pay. That’s applaudable. But the voices of these women are talking over the voices of African-American, Asian, and Latina women who make even less.

White feminists are fighting for access to birth control and the rights to their bodies. Again, an amazing battle. But first let us talk about Native American woman and how they are the only demographic who have virtually no crime statistics. In other words, no one knows how many of them go missing or are murdered. They are the ones who truly have no control of their bodies.

White Feminists are fighting to bring down gender-based stereotypes and the misogyny of today’s culture. But again, they ignore the fact some women face not only gender stereotypes, but also to prejudices based on their race, sexual orientation, religion, and a myriad of other factors.

By engaging in this tunnel-visioned fight for equal rights, these feminists completely miss the mark of gender equality. Feminism is about equal rights for all. It is about men not getting set up to fail in the parental court system. It is about women of any color or sexual orientation being able to voice their struggles without getting silenced. It is about equal rights for all.

So put down the chalk, and make change happen. Real change.

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The student voice of Perry High School
A Minute With Mia: White feminism misses force of intersectionality, total inclusion