On Tuesday, I wrote about how we can solve the problem of white feminism. Today, I went on yet another Twitter rant about the failings of white feminists. It would not, however, be fair for me to continue writing and talking about this issue without acknowledging my own hypocrisies and white feminism.
When I was 16, I stood up in front of 75 of my fellow students and talked for 20 minutes about why we still need feminism. To this day it remains one of my proudest achievements. It was the start of my journey as an outspoken feminist, and it sparked my passion for talking about feminism publicly and without shame.
It was also the epitome of white feminism, failing to mention even in passing the struggles of women of colour or trans women or disabled women or women who were in any way not like me.
Thankfully, I have since learned from my mistakes, and every day I strive to make my feminism more inclusive and listen to women who know far more about oppression than me.
I thought I was doing pretty well, until I realised that the majority of media I consume is created by white feminists for white feminists. I listen to podcast by white feminists who interview abusers (I’m lookin’ at you, Emma Gannon). I read articles by Laurie Penny even though I know she’s racist. I fangirl over Caitlin Moran even though I know she’s transphobic. Despite my anger and frustration at white feminists, I still continue to consume the things they create.
See, these celebrity feminists create things that make me feel comfortable. Not only do they write and speak about topics that I can personally relate to as a white, middle-class, straight, cis, abled woman, but they also make me feel good about myself as a feminist. Because I can recognise the glaring flaws in their non-inclusive feminism, I get to feel good about myself as an Intersectional Feminist.
Never mind that I’m supporting women who I know care about nothing than their own feminist careers. Or that Intersectional Feminist isn’t a label I can ever claim as a white woman, because intersectional was a term coined by a black women for the specific experiences of black women. Never mind that consuming this media highlights that I’d rather be comfortable than continue to grow as a woman and as a feminist.
I justify it to myself with the fact that I also read articles and consume media created by black and disabled and trans and poor people – articles that push me to recognise my privilege and be a better feminist. I tell myself that everyone needs to unwind and enjoy a bit of comfort – even if that comfort comes from problematic sources
But in reality, I’m just a hypocrite, and it’s time to confront my own white feminism. It’s time to start living fully by my feminists ideals all of the time – not just when it suits me or makes a good tweet.
Because feminism isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It’s not supposed to make me feel good. It’s supposed to change the world. Feminism is a political movement – not a set of individual choices and catchy slogans. Feminism is supposed to challenge me and challenge society, even when it feels awkward. Especially when it feels awkward.
So here is my pledge to start truly living by my feminist ideals, all the time and in every aspect. That means:
- Unfollowing feminists on Twitter if they show no sign of learning from their past mistakes. Even if I personally like their work.
- Consuming far more media by people different from me. Books, films, podcasts, blogs – you name it, I want to consume it if I was created by someone other than a white, straight, cis, middle-class woman.
- Confronting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia head on whenever I see it, both online and offline and using my privilege to fight back when it might not be safe for others to do so.
And I’m asking you – dear readers – to hold me accountable. Yell at me when I tweet something problematic. Call me out when I support racist, classist, transphobic or ableist feminists. Shame me for turning a blind eye to prejudice.
Cos guess what? I want the world to be better, and the world can only be better if I am better.
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