In honor of the #stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity hashtag (started via this Huffington Post article penned by the delightfully clueless Adele Wilde-Blavatsky) I’ve decided to put together a top ten honoring the many interesting methods white feminists employed this year to promote unity between themselves and feminists of color.
From refusing to defend feminists of color against attacks from the patriarchy (or from other white feminists for that matter), to deriding feminists of color for not being feminist enough, to blaming feminists of color’s oppressions on their own cultures (instead of, you know, patriarchy) white feminists sure have a funny way of expressing their desire for unity with feminists of color.
10. When 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, the young actress and Oscar nominee, was called a cunt by The Onion in a poorly thought out satire attempt, white feminists decided that not defending her made sense because cunt shouldn’t be a bad word anyway and whatever, it was a joke ok? Anyway, it’s not like white feminists are in the habit of defending other white women against gender-based comedic assaults. I mean, unless you were called a slut. Or if Seth MacFarlane sings a song about your boobs.
9. Lily Allen became a white feminist icon for pop anthem “Hard out Here”, a video in which she sings the lines “no need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain” over a backdrop of black women shaking their asses for you in a demonstration of how brainless they are. Clearly, this video would make any feminist proud, since intersectionality is not a real thing. Even so, this too ended up being an instance of a satire that went completely over the heads of women of color feminists, who mistook the video as a fully clothed white woman singing about her own liberation while using gyrating half-naked black women and hip-hop culture in general to illustrate her point about what empowerment doesn’t look like.
8. And in an interesting turn of events, Miley Cyrus is a also feminist icon for doing almost the exact opposite of Lily Allen, and reveling in her own booty-shaking scantily-clad glory. I say almost because she does this while accessorizing with black women and black “ratchet” culture in many of the same ways that Allen does, since that seems to be the only method white feminist icons know of to drive their feminist viewpoints home. White feminists rushed to defend her from scathing slut-shaming criticism but, once again, very few critiqued her minstrelsy (and even when they did give her metaphoric black face and cultural appropriation a cursory mention, it was only to say something along the lines of “this deserves attention” just not in this article).
7. Self-proclaimed feminist mouthpiece Lena Dunham also skyrocketed to feminist icon status this year when she won two Golden Globes for her hit TV series Girls, a show which Dunham believes represents any woman who hasn’t felt her voice represented in the media (to paraphrase her Globe acceptance speech). She has naturally decided to only use upper middle class, college educated white women as the stand in voice for women of a wide range of different cultural experiences, ethnicities and economic backgrounds and has based the show in some imaginary section of Brooklyn, NY where people of color appear to be almost non-existent. But don’t take that to mean that Dunham doesn’t see people of color because she absolutely does; just only when they’ve done something she doesn’t like.
6. Yet, somehow, Beyoncé missed the boat for white feminist icon this year despite the success of yet another album with a number of pro-woman anthems and finally officially declaring her support of feminism. Is it because she’s decided to promote her music under married name just like Lily Allen has? Is it because she posed half-naked for the same photographer Lena Dunham posed half-naked for? What exactly was she missing that they had? It’s hard to be sure but there’s been some speculation.
5. Then there’s Michelle Obama, who is apparently failing feminists nationwide through her startling inaction since the message she sends by starting the first organic garden on white house grounds is not activist enough. Additionally, using her platform as First Lady to preach good diet and exercise when blacks in America have the highest rates of diet-related illness is an obvious waste of her time, as is focusing on raising her children. White feminists want us to remember that motherhood, especially woman of color motherhood, especially black motherhood, is never radical or feminist.
4. In world news, white feminists continued campaigns against India this year provoked by what they perceived as “cultural attitudes” and backwards traditions, which have led to India’s recent rape “epidemic” which gained international notice late last year. It’s hard to say how Indian rape culture became the epidemic of choice over rape-culture in western nations while having a higher rape conviction rate (about 24%) than many western nations, including the UK (7%) and Sweden (10%), and despite America not only topping the global list of reported rapes per year (including having college campus sexual assault statistics that would seem to make a woman equally as safe in an American dorm as in a Delhi public bus). What we do know is that there is no need to fear; white savior is here to bring women of color salvation from their savage male counterparts.
3. Speaking of international feminist attitudes, the Ukraine-based feminist group Femen staged what they called a “topless jihad” this year, allegedly in support of Amina Tyler, a Tunisian woman who was arrested after posting topless photos of herself with feminist slogans painted on her chest. They provided their “support” in the form of a full-scale attack on Islam, and showed their solidarity with Muslim women by calling Islamists “inhuman beasts” and by producing images of themselves profaning Islamic spiritual practices and customs among other forms of encouragement. White feminists then patted themselves on the back for a job well done.
2. Although women of color have been attempting to bring Hugo Schwyzer’s racist antics to the attention of white feminists at least since his defense of a white woman’s plagiarism of a Chicana blogger’s work in 2008, white feminists seemed to mostly ignore them (and in certain cases even defended him) until he himself broke down and admitted his bigotry earlier this year, proving that a white man, even an attempted murderer and admitted sexual predator, is always more reliable than a black woman. The incident, along with the support Schwyzer received from bloggers at popular feminist sites Feministe, Jezebel and Pandagon, resulted in the creation of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag by Mikki Kendall. The hashtag and accompanying tweets were promptly reposted on the very site they’d been created to critique in an effort to encourage dialogue, though it slipped the poster’s minds to advise their readers that the hashtag was about them.
1. Last, but certainly not least, feminist folk-singing icon and Ani DiFranco chose to help black feminists workout their history of slavery issues by making music and good vibes for them on a former plantation (and inviting them to do the same for the low price of $1100-$4000 a head). When large numbers of ungrateful women of color expressed outrage at this move, and when DiFranco stayed silent in the face of said outrage, DiFranco supporters took to Facebook in her defense, with one even going so far as to create a fake black online persona to defend their position. Luckily said persona used enough bastardized Ebonics that black feminists were finally able to successfully understand and accept white feminists educated and enlightened viewpoints for what they were. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the retreat from being cancelled.
Oh well, there’s always next year! Until then…
The Colored Fountain