I Was A White Feminist Once — Here's How I Changed My Ways

woman with red hair and black lipstick looking off into the distance
PHOTO: UNSPLASH

"White feminism" is a term used to describe a feminist movement that focuses only on the advancement of white women at the expense of women of color. It ignores specific issues like racism and poverty — issues that primarily affect non-white women — often pushing for activism or policies that harm marginalized communities.

As a white woman, my first serious foray into feminism landed me squarely in white feminism territory. The vast majority of reading I was doing about women's rights and the struggle for equality was of words of fellow white women. I failed to consider that my experience as a woman might be vastly different from one who was black, Latinx, indigenous, or Asian.

It wasn't long before I was told to check my white privilege by a black woman online. It shocked me, and I got defensive. I felt like she should have been nice and gentle to me rather than so frank and direct. 

I wish I could say that my response was simply a good apology because I immediately recognized the error of my ways, but...

It wasn't as bad as it could have been, to be sure. I've seen fellow white women react in much worse ways, some to the point of using the callout as an excuse to go full white supremacist.

I can say that I wound up grateful to the black woman who called me out on my white feminist nonsense. Not only did her callout force me to confront my own (toxic) worldviews, but it made me realize that my initial reaction to her callout was hypocritical, as I often responded to men whining that they weren't "real" sexists with the same sort of bluntness.

From that point on, I started following and reading the words of women of color. I learned about white privilege, the racist history of white feminism, and the lingering problems that modern mainstream feminism has with racism. I learned about intersectionality.

I not only became a much better feminist, but one who works for the advancement of all women — not just the white ones.

I saw this not to brag (especially since I know I still have so much to learn), but to show my fellow feminists with white skin that rejecting white feminism is not hard in the slightest. It's simply a matter of deciding not to be a hypocrite, then listening to women of color for a while. You don't have to take up arms to defend something that's harmful to many, many women just because you once believed in or advocated for it. You can decide to be better, let it go, and change.

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LINDSEY WEEDSTON

Lindsey Weedston is NOT a social justice warrior. Clearly, her class is bard, with extra points in stealth and a little taken out of charisma. She's also a HUGE nerd, and can often be found gushing about video games. She even participated in a LARPing exercise once. Not nerdy enough to know what that is? Google it. You'll see.

Lindsey is a life-long feminist and writer and likes to color in adult coloring books with gel pens. She writes on LGBT+ and mental health issues, and will ruin your favorite childhood TV show with her feminism. Nothing you love is safe. Have a nice day!

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