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What Is White Feminism?

As stated by the UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, ‘No country in the world can yet say that they have achieved gender equality’. Within gender inequality, women of colour often face further discrimination in comparison to caucasian women, and within that you’ll find colourism- where women of colour who have darker completions, are still treated unequally in comparison to women with lighter-skin.

Colourism is an important issue that many people are blind to. People of colour who have darker complexions are not only unrepresented in the media and the beauty/cosmetics industry, but are constantly being portrayed to be less desirable in comparison to lighter skinned women. We’re constantly reminded by society that the standard for feminine beauty are thin, blonde, caucasian women. This idea has been ingrained into us for centuries and has caused a multitude of effects such as the growing popularity of skin bleaching products in Asia, and the dehumanisation of dark-skinned black women, who are endlessly compared to animals and insects.

Many people do not realise that the term ‘feminism’ is broad- beneath the fighting for equal pay and paid maternity leave, there’s a much darker corner to female oppression that isn’t as frequently addressed. The reason why? It’s because these issues effect the minority groups of women. The women of colour, the women from lower incomes, the women with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ women who aren’t often given the platform to discuss their oppression.

White Feminism is a term that refers to caucasian feminists who fail to acknowledge the oppression of all women, focusing primarily on white women’s experiences. A caucasian woman’s experience can’t be compared to the experiences of other women, nevertheless this doesn’t eliminate the oppression that white women also face. However, how can one call themselves a feminist, or an activist for equality of the sexes when they don’t fight for the rights of all women. I’m not saying it’s intentional- chances are white women are inadvertently promoting white feminism, simply because they have never experienced the same discrimination as other women; this however, is by no means an excuse to not be educated on the matter.

Emma Watson addressing the white feminism accusations against her

Intersectional feminism is a form of feminism that recognises that not all women face oppression in the same ways, or to the same extent- and that this is influenced by factors such as gender identity, race and income. Whilst there is a significant lack of women in many high paying jobs in relation to men, many black women are denied work under the pretences that their names are ‘too ghetto’, or that their protective hairstyles aren’t appropriate.

Many women who’s sex doesn’t match their gender identity, still don’t have the right to use the toilet that they’re most comfortable using. Many women and young girls across the world living in less economically developed countries don’t even have access to education, basic healthcare or feminine hygiene products.

I’m in no way measuring one woman’s inequalities against the other as if this were the oppression olympics, well that’s kind of what I’m doing- but only to highlight the fact that women from minority groups are often excluded in feminist discussions, and aren’t even invited to the table to shed light on their differing experiences. White women have the biggest platforms to discuss feminism, meaning they should be knowledgeable on feminism in all of its forms- and if they aren’t, they should be sharing their platform with those who are.

Alexandria is a twenty year old student, living and studying in the bustling city of London. When she's not studying; you're sure to find her travelling, writing, discovering new cuisines & dancing the night away.

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