Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

White feminism must be challenged

White feminism excludes the needs of marginalized persons
McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian.

White feminism has become the dominant face of feminism in the United States. It is embedded within mainstream media and news, our consumerist economy and political discourses. We must evaluate the role white feminism plays in American society and our personal lives. People must recognize their privilege and how it informs their definition of feminism and advocacy.

White feminism advocates for a form of gender equality established through the accumulation of women’s individual power and success, such as an increase of females in corporate positions.

White feminism does not acknowledge structural oppression or attempt to confront capitalist, racist and patriarchal systems, because it excels within these systems. It doesn’t prioritize women of color and other marginalized groups because it mimics a capitalistic approach where individuals’ success is enabled through the exploitation and invisible labor of marginalized groups.

The success of white feminism primarily comes from the extensive promotion it receives in popular news and media outlets, especially among mainstream outlets geared towards women. Frequently, these outlets apply a feminist lens to a singular female celebrity or CEO that has gained admiration and respect because of their solo success.

We often hear these women credit their success to “luck.” While this an acknowledgment that there is unequal distribution and access to opportunities, it lacks a critique on the structural institutions that perpetuate this inequality. These individuals often describe that they looked inward to find the “feminism” that empowered them towards personal success. There is little attention paid to the outward forces, such as intuitional barriers, that Black or Latina women encounter.

Addressing structural oppression is crucial for women to be truly liberated. Dismantling the patriarchy and racist systems are at the core of the struggle. Women of color and other marginalized groups must be prioritized. Feminism must promote gender equality through addressing marginalized genders while also addressing the reality of people’s lives.

Providing people with basic resources like housing, food and clean water must be a priority. A reformed justice system that advocates for stringent workplace protections and decent wages is crucial.

After reforming these foundational principles, career and financial success can be sought after. Not necessarily through scaling the corporate ladder, but via an overall increase in educational and small-business opportunities, especially for women of color and other marginalized groups.

The face of feminism cannot be a singular white woman who has amassed wealth. The success and strife of women of color and marginalized groups must be documented in mainstream media and news.

On college campuses, challenging white feminism is essential. There should be an increase in representation of minority women on college staff; they offer a unique perspective that enables them to better support and mentor minority students. Sexual assaults and rape culture on college campuses must be addressed through better educational resources and support services. The opinions, challenges and success of women of color must be amplified in classrooms, clubs and on-campus jobs.

White women must acknowledge the advantages they experience on a personal level, as a result of racist systems established. They must consider the rhetoric they hear and choose to use about feminism, women of color and other marginalized groups.

We must work to dismantle the institutions that perpetuate inequities and structural barriers. We must prioritize the accessibility of basic resources and support for marginalized persons. We must reform the image of feminism and the way minority women and people are portrayed. Only through challenging white feminism, can we work towards truly liberating women.

Juliette Perez can be reached at [email protected].

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