Why Isn’t Your Feminism Intersectional? // Angel McKissic, M.A., TLLP

In the past week, Target ran an ad for one of their Black-woman owned brands, The Honey Pot, a smart line of hygiene products, ranging from cotton pads to wipes. The commercial featured the brand’s owner, Beatrice Dixon, telling her story of entrepreneurship and that it was important for her brand to succeed because it would increase opportunities for other Black women and girl entrepreneurs.

Any meaningful concept of “feminism” includes (or should) the position that women, non-binary, and femme identified folx show up for each other in whatever decisions we make about our lives and recognize that our experiences are constituted by the intersection of all the identities we occupy. In other words, intersectional feminists fight for and uplift everyone’s right to author their lives. Moreover, an intersectional feminism acknowledges that the fight is against a system that devalues anything that resembles the socially constructed concept of femininity, thus the movement must include advocacy for all individuals who do not perform the socially acceptable standard of masculinity, because those who exist outside of it are systematically and pervasively subject to marginalization.

            Cut to the day of the Target commercial and the subsequent onslaught of deplorable comments left on The Honey Pot’s TrustPilot page, and the social media of attacks aimed at the company and Beatrice herself. As a Black woman, it came as no surprise that most of these comments were left by White women claiming that Target and The Honey Pot’s owner were unnecessarily, even maliciously, using race, more specially, Blackness, in the brand’s storyline. One could write a robust dissertation on the numerous ways in which these complaints are problematic, not the least of which many of those women failed to realize that the ad aired in February, which is Black History Month. Target, among a slew of other companies use the month to highlight the Black business owners whose products they sell or endorse. But never mind this fact, because while we cannot know if those women who left the comments identify as feminists, the White women who do, have responded with a deafening silence, which begs the question - Is the attack on Beatrice and her company not worthy of mainstream feminist outrage? Apparently not.

            One does not have to look far to find failures of the mainstream feminist movement. Where are the outcries of White feminists on the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women? What about the disproportionate killing of Black trans women? And how about the Black women who have been murdered by police? This is not to mention the nearly total exclusion of gender non-conforming and non-binary femmes from the concern and agenda of the mainstream feminism. Again and again we witness mainstream White feminism abandoning women of color and femmes because of a lack of intersectional ideology. The mainstream feminist movement has always been deeply drenched in White supremacy and heteronormativity. So, per usual, Black women, women of color, and queer folx show up for their communities in the void left by White feminism. Case in point, Black publications like Essence, published a response form Beatrice a few days after the incident. Black women on social media have been calling for others to counter the vitriolic comments left on the page with positive reviews, and Beatrice has been featured on The Real, a daytime talk show hosted by an all women of color cast. In the end, this is the old playbook of mainstream feminism, so it is up to a new generation of Black, brown, and queer women/femmes to call out feminist movements that claim to empower and uplift women, when the reality is they are leaving behind the most marginalized women and femmes. If your feminism is not inclusive, then it is not revolutionary nor radical.

You can find The Honey Pot products here.

By Angel McKissic, M.A., TLLP

1 comment: