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July 31, 2017 | by  | in Shit Chat |
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White Women And Other Shit Chat

Me here, Whitey McWhiterson, to give my two cents on intersectionality. Naturally.

I’m going to speak about white women here in a similar fashion to how I speak about men: they fucking suck. We fucking suck. Think about it as layers of oppression: just as Men are an oppressive collective that as a group perpetuate the marginalisation of women, White Women are an oppressive collective that as a group perpetuate the relative marginalisation of Women of Colour.

There are more layers to this, of course. As an able-bodied, (probably? mostly? let me get back to you) straight, cisgendered, white woman, I’m sitting somewhere at the top of the food pyramid. For the sake of this A5 page that I have to convince you I don’t just say these things because I’m a hateful hag, and the fact that your attention is probably already waning what with me throwing around “SJW” terminology, say it with me: White Women Need To Do Better.

To avoid having this conversation again, let me reiterate: generalising men and white women in this way is not gratuitous reductionism. The reason marginalised groups have come to produce discourse such as that of the #MenAreTrash hashtag is because saying some men are trash — or, some white women are trash — allows for individuals to excuse themselves from scrutiny. It allows people to say “oh yeah nah but I’m one of the good ones!” (we’re all the good ones in our own heads, you see) and it allows for the continued dismissal of the opinions of marginalised groups.

I don’t mean to detach myself from this. I asked a friend of mine if I could publish in Shit Chat this week a rant she’d written about her experiences as a brown girl navigating feminist discourse, and then went ahead assuming it was cool for me to edit that account. I had the best of intentions; the irony of me editing her experiences didn’t even occur to me. Until she called me out, that is. That’s the thing about privilege hey, if you can’t see it you’ve probably got it.

Having failed steps one and two in the Ally’s Handbook for Not Being a Dick (Step One: listen to marginalised groups; Step Two: amplify their voices; and Step Three: confront those at your level of privilege), you don’t get to hear from her today, and instead get to read my attempt at Step Three buried in a flagrant display of self-indulgent white guilt.

White Women — work with me here imagining this as a conceptual collective — exist in a bubble. “Women’s Liberation” was won first and foremost for white women, and White Women learned to discursively assert their rights in the reflection of the ways in which men assert their rights. A mentality was produced mirroring that of men, and that mentality is defined by the assumption that theirs is the universal experience. White Women fight for issues “to be solved in a way that caters to their experience rather than [to] the universal feminist experience.”

Buying THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE t-shirts from some ethically questionable chain store is all very good and well when you refuse to acknowledge things like the Ministry for Women’s report that “Pākehā women earn between $3.00 and $6.00 more per hour than Māori, Pasifika, and Asian women; and $1.00 to $4.00 more per hour than Māori, Pasifika, and Asian men.” Mass producing pink pussy hats in the US is swell when you overlook that trans women of colour have a roughly one in twelve chance of being murdered.

So what is the “universal feminist experience”? Fucked if I know. Again, that’s the thing; there are many layers to lived experience and inequality. Trying to be a good ally — trying to be intersectional in the way we approach feminist discourse — requires taking ownership for privilege and using it to support and promote the diversity of female experience and we, as White Women, are just not doing that.

Again, a little louder for those in the back: White Women Need To Do Better.

 

Love you, xoxo

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