Feminism Without Intersectionality Is Just White Supremacy // Anna Bartko, M.A.

Photo from: Google Images/Twitter

As the past presidential election dwindled to the last few months, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”. This has now been a popular phrase among this wave of “feminism” that has come to the forefront of the current political sphere. This phrase went viral in many ways, not only were women working towards reclaiming the phrase for themselves, but turned into a clear representation of consumer based activism that lends itself to be ultimately problematic.  It has manifested into a capitalistic endeavor with shirts, mugs, phone cases, totes, etc. with this phrase displayed all over it. We can see its popularity as we look back at the Women’s March from January 21st.

However popular this phrase and new brand of consumer feminism is, I am writing, as a white, queer, cis-gendered woman, to introduce a critique that this phrase may not be as inclusive as people think and is only safe and accessible to those with white and cis privileges.

White feminism is and has been an inherent problem within the feminist movements. It allows for white supremacy to take hold of a movement and let this oppression seep into their politics and stances. This is where the importance of intersectionality comes in. Feminism is and should be critiqued for the ways that is it is non-inclusive of gender and queer identities (i.e. “Pussy grabs back”) and that being self-labeling as “nasty” may not be safe for everyone to wear blindly on merchandise.

When we look at history and the way that “feminism” is taught in America, we must realize that women of color have been the backbone of feminism. We also must consider how capitalism is a driving force of social and wealth inequality and how the production and profit of goods (that may represent something you believe in) are ultimately contributing to the larger systems of inequity at work.

White women: we must come up with more effective ways to support marginalized people instead of blindly accepting a phrase and then turning into a capitalistic endeavor. Even if this has come from the self-proclaimed “left” and “liberal” side of politics, we must call out forms of white supremacy when we see it to make sure that the spaces that are created are safe and accessible to all.

In the current political sphere it is even more important that we must call out the spaces that we inherently take up and demand that they be more inclusive. White women have to look critically at their privilege, accept and feel the fragility that it may bring up, and become accountable for our words and actions. We must do the work, call out the systems we benefit from, and actively work through a lens of intersectionality.

Written by: Anna Bartko, M.A.

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