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The Problem With White Feminism in the Women’s March

The Problem With White Feminism in the Women’s March

Motivating millions to march across America and the world, the Women’s March was, no doubt, a success. While the solidarity shown by those attending the march was encouraging, the question must be asked: would as many people, specifically white women, who attended the march by the thousands, show up — had it been connected to any other social justice issue, like racial equality?

53 percent of white women proved that they could gladly overlook racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and general bigotry at the voting booth.

The unfortunate answer is probably not. Last November, 53 percent of white women proved that they could gladly overlook racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and general bigotry at the voting booth. In the weeks following the election, the other 47 percent of white women questioned how we could be in such a terrible situation, often overlooking the fact that it was probably some of their friends and family members who put us there.

Born out of this same desperation to understand what had happened, the Woman’s March, too, reeked of white feminism in its earlier stages. The original co-chairs, all white, co-opted the name of the Million Woman March held in 1997 by and for black women. Only after some protest, did the co-chairs change the name and invite Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez, all celebrated activists and women of color, to join the board. Presumably, their input lead to the inclusion of phrases like, “that women of color carry the heaviest burden in the global and domestic economic landscape, particularly in the care economy,” in the march’s platform.

More and more people are willing to call themselves feminists without working towards feminism’s ultimate goal, equality for all women.

Despite the diversity of the march’s board and their efforts to make the event as inclusive as possible, the Woman’s March was still tinged with white feminism. Participants held signs quoting Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who recently deemed Colin Kaepernick’s protest “stupid” (before half heartedly apologizing), wore sashes to emulate early American suffragettes, notorious racists, and listened to speakers like Scarlett Johansson, who was recently under fire for playing an Asian woman in “Ghost in a Shell.”

As feminism becomes more popular with each celebrity’s endorsement, more and more people are willing to call themselves feminists without working towards feminism’s ultimate goal, equality for all women. Many women of color, myself included, noted that large numbers of our white peers, who barely expressed interest in social justice before, joined us at the march. Ideally, they attend in support of all women, but with commodification of feminism, it is more likely they were there for a good photo-op and to preserve their own rights.

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I challenge each white woman to recognize their privilege, begin educating themselves, and start using their platform to advance the standing of all women.

While this realization is disheartening, it does not have to be the permanent state of activism. The Woman’s March can be a starting point for many white women on their path to becoming a social justice advocate and a better ally to other causes. All those who attended the march should be proud, yet understand that there is more work to be done.

I challenge each white woman to recognize their privilege, begin educating themselves, and start using their platform to advance the standing of all women.

View Comments (10)
  • For some reason it feels like all your articles are so much about muslims that it excludes the other ethnicies. In ALL your articles the title starts with the word Muslim in it. I mean i get you are proud of it, that is just how it should be, but don’t you think it isn’t very right towards the other readers? I mean imagine if a “white girl” page would be online, wouldn’t it sound wrong?

    • I absolutely agree with you. At times if feels like they do the exact same thing they complain about. Imagine a white woman writing the problem with Islamic feminism. Wouldnt that be racist even if it comes form a rational point of view?

      • But guys, the name of this website is ‘Muslim Girl’, and Muslim isn’t an ethnicity. I agree that this particular website seems to have a policy of complaining about everything imaginable. Just pointing out, though, it isn’t exactly a multi-faith forum or anything. It’s a site for young Muslim women to air their apparently innumerable problems. There are lots of Christian girl sites and Christian mommies- and Christian feminists- complaining about Muslim women, too.

        • There are lots of Christian girl sites and Christian mommies- and Christian feminists- complaining about Muslim women, too.

          Does that make it right? And i know very well that muslim is not an ethnicity. Is saying such about an ethnicity any less than saying such about a religion. My point is its the same thing.
          Instead for you guys always getting unnecessary defensive try and reason and understand what the comment’s message.

        • And the view point doesn’t sound racist? Imagine if someone else is saying that. My point is you guys do the exact same thing you blame people for.

  • I agree, women are often the worst culprit of discrimination against other women. The fact that any race is grouped together and simply “told” what their opinion on political matters is wrong. Feminism and women empowerment is something I support as a result of events that have occurred in my lifetime that have caused me to see the value in supporting the rights and protecting the self-esteem of all women, not just some.

  • I somewhat agree with this article, but somewhat don’t. It definitely leans to one side, as a minority website should, but it leans far enough that its not really inclusive. What about white Muslim sisters, or people like me who are mixed race. White people think I’m annoying AF for bringing up social issues all the time, but because I am very light of skin, if I talk about social issues with any other race I get rebound racism because I am light. My political activism has taken a nose dive since “Protests” have swung more to the side of angry moms because of the fact that my appearance automatically deems me to be part of the opposite side, no matter what I say politically. I will continue to stand with all the Muslim sisters, the Black sisters, my Latina and Mexican, Native and Asian sisters but once the violence becomes a threat to my person in any crowd I will take a vow of silence and just go back to doing sit in’s like peaceful protesters have done in the past. Just because reverse racism is all the rage and the popular thing now, does not make it right.

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