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White Feminism Isn’t the Problem (but You Might Be if You Think So)

Intersectional politics can’t empower women if it demonizes them based on their race

Bridget Phetasy
October 11, 2018
Screenshot from Al-Jazeera video 'Here’s Why White Feminism Is Racist'Al-Jazeera
Screenshot from Al-Jazeera video 'Here’s Why White Feminism Is Racist'Al-Jazeera

Since Trump won in 2016, think piece upon think piece has been devoted to the problem with white women. We’ve been labeled “white supremacy in heels,” accused of using our tears as weapons of oppression, and over and over again judged as a group and condemned based on the color of our skin. Much effort has been put into controlling those of us who aren’t getting on board with, as I call it, “The Approved Message.” All these articles and theories about “the problem with white women” basically push the same agenda: if you don’t think like we want you to think and vote like we want you to vote, you hate women and especially, women of color.

I’m done. After years of enduring woke, anti-white women media pieces (written much of the time by upper-middle-class white women), they have finally broken me. Modern feminism demands I live in a constant state of feeling like a victim but if I’m white, I need to simultaneously accept that I’m never going to be victim enough and in fact, I’m actually an oppressor. It’s mind-bending and bananas and I won’t do it.

I have plenty of legitimate reasons to hate myself but I’m not about to add ‘born white’ to the list. I’ll be told I’m the portrait of white fragility for saying so. I’ll be painted as a “gender traitor” and a racist and a shill for the patriarchy.

Intersectional feminism is a trap that pits all women against one another in a race to the bottom. It doesn’t empower—instead, it encourages a perpetual victim mentality, internalized self-loathing and creates a battle between factions of women over who’s the “most oppressed.”

In a recent New York Times opinion piece titled “White Women, Come Get Your People” the mainstreaming of intersectional delusions officially jumped the shark. It checked all the boxes of a woke, anti-white woman tirade. There were references to the patriarchy, putting our whiteness before our “second-class status” in the 2016 election, white privilege, and a Handmaid’s Tale reference for good measure.

“The gender gap in politics is really a color line,” wrote author Alexis Grenell. “That’s because white women benefit from patriarchy by trading on their whiteness to monopolize resources for mutual gain. In return they’re placed on a pedestal to be ‘cherished and revered,’ as Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said about women, but all the while denied basic rights.”

I had no pedestal. My life was a constant battle, some of which I share publicly, like getting bullied because we moved every year and half, battling addiction and being drugged and raped at 18. And some of which I’ll probably never share because it had to do with an insane upbringing and family members with mental illness and things I’ve spent decades trying to process with my therapist. So my brain explodes when I read something by a woman supposedly fighting for female empowerment who does so by reducing me to the color of my skin and dismissing all the hardship I’ve fought to overcome, just because I don’t vote the way she wants.

Another example of how popular and profitable the intersectional mentality has become was on display in an Al-Jazeera video titled, “Here’s Why White Feminism Is Racist” that recently went viral. In the video from a couple of weeks ago, Al-Jazeera contributor Zab Mustefa explains that it is “white, CIS, able-bodied women not acknowledging the struggles of women of color, people with disabilities and LGBT communities.” But Mustefa isn’t just interested in any “white, CIS, able-bodied women;” she seems especially interested in Jewish women. Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and Gal Gadot are all prominently called out in the short video as examples of problematic white feminism, displaying a thinly disguised attempt at erasing Jewish ethnicity and blatant anti-Semitism.

The lack of self-awareness is staggering. Shaming white women for not being feminist enough while working for Al-Jazeera, a network owned by the Qatari government, which is known for its use of slave labor, human rights violations, anti-Semitism and oppression of Christians, atheists, minorities, gays, and trans people to name a few—is some next-level hypocrisy. And I haven’t even mentioned the not-so-woke attitudes towards women that are enforced in Qatar and throughout much of the Middle East, about which Mustefa says nothing.

We do get to hear in the video from Women’s March founder and one-time Louis Farrakhan apologist, Tamika Mallory, who says: “I think the only thing that white women can do to change mainstream white feminism is to step back and center the voices of women of color. Get up from the table and make space for those people who are truly impacted.”

I often ask my intersectional feminist friends to play the tape forward. What is the end game? I ask them. Where does this lead other than everyone feeling like they’re owed something and that they were somehow cheated?

Young white women trying to be woke, trying to do the right thing and fearing that they’re not, trying to be good allies—they eat up these words and adopt them. But what Mallory and Mustefa and Grenell are really saying to white women is: sit down and shut up.

What kind of feminism demands that I forfeit my individual experience and opinions and struggles? How does that show solidarity or empower women? An ideology that singles out one group of women for special abuse and scapegoating based on their race or religion may be many things but calling it ‘feminist’ is a bit much.

Expecting all women to act as a monolith, constantly sending the message of “adopt our ideology OR ELSE.” That isn’t feminism. It’s tyranny.

Bridget Phetasy is a writer, comedian and Twitter addict. Once the iconic “Playboy Advisor” for Playboy magazine’s monthly advice column, Bridget now maintains a monthly editorial for Spectator US magazine. She is the host of the podcast Walk-Ins Welcome and a satirical comedy show Dumpster Fire, available on Rumble and YouTube.

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