When I found out that Emma Watson is set to grace the cover of Elle UK as “the fresh face of feminism,” I couldn’t help but scoff. I have no problem with Emma, but the new face of feminism looks almost identical to the old face of feminism: White, white white.
When it comes down to it I’m a feminist who has a big problem with the feminist movement. Much of this has to do with the fact that I’m a black feminist who has had a lot of experience with feminism coming across as an educated straight white girls only club. Frankly mainstream feminism just isn’t very inclusive! For example, stories of non-white, queer, poor, disabled, etc women’s struggles are often silenced as distractions. Um, talk about unfair!
Feminism should be about fighting against oppression that women–all kinds of women–face. But feminism is, sadly, pretty limited to the interests and concerns of some women a lot more than others Hopefully feminism will become more inclusive, but it can’t without people in the movement acknowledging these seven things that are wrong with feminism.
Feminism Becoming A BuzzwordDo I want there to be more feminists out there? Sure...if they're actually dedicated to fighting oppression and caring about the struggle of all kinds of women. That's why while it's nice to see so many celebrities embracing feminism, it's important not to get distracted by that. As awesome writer Roxanne Gay said, "There is nothing wrong with celebrities (or men) claiming feminism and talking about feminism...We run into trouble, though, when we celebrate celebrity feminism while avoiding the actual work of feminism." Being a feminist is more than saying you're a feminist! Can we stop giving every celebrity a parade when they claim the feminist label and actually start fighting against oppression? Source: Elle UK
Lack Of Respect For Racial DifferencesLook: White women and black women don't experience the world the same way. Neither do Native American women, Asian women, non-white Latina women, etc. How can feminism tackle the specific problems that are perpetuated against women of certain races and ethnicities if they're being ignored? Why do people keep using the "women make 77 cents to a man's dollar" statistic without acknowledging that black women make 64 cents to that dollar while Latinas make 54 cents. Intersectionality--understanding the various struggles that marginalized people experience--needs to be embraced in feminism or it is useless. Source: Some Girls/BBC
Respectability Politics Masquerading As FeminismSexuality and feminism are pretty tricky to navigate and context is so important to the way we approach it. For example, are women inherently exploiting themselves if they're being sexual in front of a camera? Like I said, it's a loaded question with a ton of layers, but we're doing ourselves and the movement a disservice when we pick and chose what displays of sexuality are acceptable and what aren't so arbitrarily. Seriously, why is Beyonce attacked every time she wiggles a butt cheek? Why is she automatically anti-feminist because of that? Food for thought. Source: YouTube
Pandering Too Much To MenMaybe this is cynical, but should we really be jumping for joy about dudes wearing shirts claiming that they're feminists? Should feminism's primary aim be to make it friendly and less scary to men? It's one thing for a man to say that he's all about equality, but would he be ready to give up his systematic privilege? Would they be willing to make less money if it meant becoming "equal"? Hmm... Source: Elle UK via Huffington Post
Silence On Some Serious LGBTQ IssuesHomelessness is rampant among LGBTQ teens. Violence against transgender women--particularly trans women of color--is out of control. Where is the outrage? Why does it only seem to come from LGBTQ and trans-centric activist groups? If women are being hurt, all women should be outraged, period. Source: The Incredibly True Adventure Of Two Girls In Love
Lack Of Acknowledgement For Feminism's Past MistakesHistory isn't a pretty picture for many movements, and women's rights is no different. Susan B. Anthony is lauded as an awesome champion in women's rights, but the lady was super racist. There are some radical feminists that were super awesome in their fight for female empowerment but refused to consider transgender women real women. If we want to make feminism and women's rights better in the future we need to stop sanitizing its past. Source: The Pulp Girls
The Idea That Western Feminism Is The Best FeminismFor example: Many feminists believe that Muslim women who wear the hiab or other head coverings are oppressed. Uh, how can someone come to that conclusion. There are plenty of women who fight for women's rights who wear hijabs! To assume that covering up one's body is automatically oppressive implies that a lack of clothing automatically means that someone has a lot of freedom...and we know that's not true. Western feminism isn't the only way to do feminism. Source: Shutterstock
And if you need any more convincing, this awesome bit of slam poetry from sums up the problems with mainstream feminism amazingly. It was performed by Ashia Ajani, Abby Friesen-Johnson, Tolu Obiwole and Alexis Rain Vigil for the Youth Speaks festival earlier this year and it rules.
Do you agree that these are problems feminism needs to work on? What else should would help improve feminism? Tell us in the comments!