If feminism wasn’t already ‘having a moment’ then it certainly is now. Since the Women’s March on Washington, and its accompanying sister marches around the world, there has been a lot of discussion about the “brand” of feminism that it stood for with a lot of people, especially women of colour and trans women, voicing concerns about not feeling welcome at the events and experiencing problems with ‘White Feminists’. What the march, and feminism in general, is aiming for is intersectionality. But what does that really mean?
Quick disclaimer: this is a very brief overview of a complex thing.
Intersectional feminism acknowledges and supports the different women who face different levels of issues; as well as sexism, women struggle with discrimination based on race, sexuality, disability and many other factors, which might make life more difficult than it would be for a white, middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied woman. Feminism that tends to focus only on issues affecting this type of woman, and dismiss/downplay/ignore the additional struggle of women who fall outside of this demographic is known as White Feminism.
First of all, when I use the term ‘White Feminism’ I will capitalise it. Not everyone does this, but personally I find it helpful in distinguishing when someone is talking about White Feminists versus white feminists (as in, feminists who are white). When discussing White Feminism, it’s important to make this distinction; talking about White Feminism is not instantly making a judgment on all white women who consider themselves feminists.
Let’s take a look at this popular diagram by blogger Cate Young (aka BattyMamzelle); you can see here that anyone can be a White Feminist, not just white women. Men, women of colour, anyone - White Feminism is a thought pattern almost as much as it is to do with your actual skin colour. While the thinking might be more common among white people in society, it’s not exclusive to white women, and not all white women fall into the category.