WORDS: ERIN MCLAUGHLIN | ART: LOVEIS WISE
Dear Mainstream White Feminism,
If you are a public figure, showing even just the slightest sign that you’re socially conscious will have everyone rooting for you hardcore. No questions asked, even when you have a sketchy history that has yet to be addressed (i.e. Katy Perry’s blatant homophobia in her floppy “Ur So Gay” song circa 2007 or Miley Cyrus hopping into the studio at the start of her Bangerz era saying she wanted a record that sounded “Black”). Anti-blackness and misogynoir are often overlooked in favor of supporting feminism and feminist ideals; as if we don’t exist. As if Black women aren’t the product of Blackness and womanhood intersecting.
There is no empowerment of women while happily participating in misogynoir.
We all know that mainstream feminism (White Feminism) has never been inclusive of anyone who isn’t a white woman, but it still needs to be pointed out. White feminism has now evolved and slithered its way into black spaces. Before, they would rally for women’s issues and exclude Black women and I got to a point where I didn’t care about that. But now white women have the nerve to claim they’re empowering women while simultaneously appropriating black culture and being anti-black.
White women seem to be very keen on doing whatever it takes to build their brand and lately two major components of doing that are blackness and anything that has to do with “supporting” women because it looks good. They take the best of both worlds: the cultural popularity of Blackness and the label/ideals of feminism to elevate themselves and their brands while leaving black women in the dust each time. I don’t care for any kind of empowerment or feminism that comes from white women because I see right through it. There is no empowerment of women while happily participating in misogynoir.
White women like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Kim Kardashian are prime examples of people who have currently helped reveal this truth after showing their true colors. It’s hard to forget the last 3 years of Miley’s career, which was a modern-day minstrel show, where she made millions and garnered more than enough press. From 2013 until last year, the self-proclaimed feminist and LGBTQ ally wore Black culture like a costume in the same way I wear the same black Vans every day. What’s even worse is that she’s now demonizing Black culture and expressing disappointment in both herself and rap culture so that she can return to her farmer’s daughter roots and reconnect with her white fans who probably refer to Black people as Blacks.
She also made it clear that she doesn’t care about Black women, despite being a “feminist” and such. The only time we were visible and useful to her was when she needed backup dancers in her videos and tour to twerk behind her. Other than that, Black women were invisible to her. When Nicki Minaj sat down with The New York Times to discuss the “Miley what’s good?” debacle, she basically pointed out how Miley is completely fine profiting off of Black culture and collaborating with Black male rappers, but when it came to simply listening to Black women, she wanted no parts. Even a high profile celebrity like Nicki Minaj couldn’t get Miley to see Black women and hear us out. Cyrus reduced Minaj’s concerns with being snubbed for a nomination to a “catfight” because pointing out possible racism is a catfight and an automatic attack on white womanhood.
Katy Perry has followed in Cyrus’s footsteps by teaming up with Migos and dancing like Regina George’s mother on stage with them. Her recent failure of a rebrand is very awkward and painful to watch, to say the least. After staying under the radar for 2 years, she rose from the ashes with platinum blonde hair and a new Twitter bio, labeling herself as an “activist” and “conscious” when she’s shown herself to be the exact opposite.
I am so tired of seeing white women get away with stealing my identity while claiming they support women, it’s a huge contradiction and it’s disingenuous.
When it comes to Kim Kardashian, her entire career is built off of Black people and our culture. We could talk about her Kimoji merch/app that is covered in AAVE that has never left her mouth which highlights the constant thievery from Black women. We could talk about how she wanted to “empower girls all over the world” after being slut/body-shamed for posting her nudes on Instagram. We can talk about how she wrongfully slut-shamed a single girl on national television two weeks ago and called her ghetto, while also bragging about “going ghetto on her”. We could talk about Kim forgetting about her half-black daughter and all the Black women who were victims when she expressed her concerns about raising Saint while police brutality is still prevalent. We could talk about all her anti-blackness and still come to the same conclusion that any uplifting and empowerment that she and every other white woman like Miley and Katy aim to do for women is poisonous and ineffective.
These women are among the plentiful white women who use #GirlBoss and other corny phrases to describe themselves despite the fact that their products are a result of sweatshop labor paying women of color less than $5 a day. The same white women who go to protests and marches for Women’s Rights while wearing apparel with vaginas on them, forgetting that trans women exist. The same white women who voted for Trump and are now dismayed because their reproductive rights are at stake, but they weren’t thinking about that on election night because their need to continue white supremacy clouded their vision as a woman. White women live in a bubble and completely forget about intersections when it comes to anything that doesn’t concern them, and when it comes to Black women a lot of things don’t concern them, despite the fact that we are both women.
White women live in a bubble and completely forget about intersections when it comes to anything that doesn’t concern them.
They are the same women who love to go on about how much they love supporting and working with other women, and how other people should do the same, yet they’re deeply in the business of appropriating Black culture and erasing Black women in the process. They see no problem with that. Even worse is that a lot of people, including Black women, are fine with this because they don’t see the harm in it. As soon as anyone says the most generic thing about supporting women, it’s met with praise. It’s really sad and we need to keep raising the bar because accepting the bare minimum and not holding people accountable is exactly why white women get away with these things. It’s exactly why Black women keep getting erased and ignored because we often tend to ignore our Blackness in favor of womanhood, and vice versa.
It shouldn’t really need to be said that the experiences of Black women are extremely unique, in a sense that we experience sexism, racism, and racialized misogyny. But I guess now more than ever it does need to be repeated because our experiences, our plight, and our mere existence is ignored whenever the topic of anything woman-related is brought up. I am so tired of seeing white women get away with stealing my identity while claiming they support women, it’s a huge contradiction and it’s disingenuous. It’s disrespectful to both parts of my identity and it does a disservice to me and Black women everywhere to stay silent on it.
No one is amplifying our issues, marching for us, campaigning for us, raising money for us.
At what point will Black women be seen, acknowledged, and included? When will we stop being treated like a rare subspecies on the brink of extinction that doesn’t even need to be mentioned anymore? There is no help being done when you’re ignoring Black women when we’re the ones always fixing everyone’s mistakes and supporting everyone because no one seems to be able to do anything themselves. Black women are the fixer-uppers, the voices that amplify your issues, the main ones who put money in your pockets, the ones who give you your views and sales, and yet we are still forgotten. No one is amplifying our issues, marching for us, campaigning for us, raising money for us.
We’re good enough and we exist when it’s time to support you and give you the boost you need, but what about being there when it really counts? When Black women are being killed by the state? When Black women are being killed from street harassment? When Black women are continually dying at the hands of their partners from domestic violence? When Black women are wrongfully convicted? We don’t matter then, we don’t exist then, we’re not even on your radar because we’re not there to serve you the inspiration for your next aesthetic that you can profit from, or the next phrase that you can overuse. White women probably don’t even consider us women, let alone human beings who occupy the same spaces on this planet as they do.
It’s getting old, letting white women get away with this by turning our backs and saying “Oh, whatever, they’re white it’s what they do”. It’s infuriating and I’m going to call them out every chance I get if I can help it. Your empowerment isn’t real to me, it’s a myth. You’re doing nothing.
Until you do right by us, everything you do is gonna fail sooner or later.
2 replies on “Open Letter To Mainstream Feminism”
The EFFING. TRUTH. The end! #TrubBomb! This is what activism looks like and I’m so humbled and inspired that you’ve said it in such a powerful manner. Blessings!🙌🏽🙏🏼🌸
i loved this article, it’s very moving & i agree completely with everything you said 💕