Have you heard the term "white feminism" being used lately? Maybe you have heard it being used when people describe celebrities like Taylor Swift, Amy Schumer or Lena Dunham. White feminism is dividing the whole feminist movement and actually making the movement have a bad image. Here is why:
What is White Feminism?
White feminism is used to describe the feminist movement that only focuses on white, cis-gendered, straight women. Their fight usually focuses on rape culture, equal pay and diminishing patriarchy. Although these are great objectives for the movement, it is still problematic that they ignore the issues that plague women of color, women with disabilities and LGBTQ+ women. Although the feminist movement is trying to close the wage gap between men and women, it does not recognize that Latina and Black women make even less than white women do. Ideally women in the movement would also bring these facts up, but they fail to do so. This happens especially when it comes to some women who are given a platform. So, the media gives the spotlight to white feminists like Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence, and takes it away from feminists who don't fill the category of being a white, cis-gendered, straight woman. This type of movement takes a "one size fits all" approach, meaning that that typically mostly-middle class white females can fit the mold. This only allows the movement to be seen through one perspective.
The goal for feminism is for it be intersectional. Meaning that it should be inclusive to other female minorities. The ideal look for the movement would be them bringing up issues not just based on sex, but also including race and sexuality. An example of using intersectional feminism would be acknowledging that an African American Woman not only faces sexism in her day-to-day life, but also faces racism. In an ideal world, intersectional feminism would not need to be a separate movement from feminism. This might be a reason that people feel so confused about the movement. There are people who feel good about it and people who think they have the wrong idea of what it is. Either way, feminism, in my opinion needs to start being inclusive to everyone in order to progress .
What Part does the Media Play in this?
It is actually not a very complex role the media plays into white feminism. Almost all media plays into white feminism, instead it just calls it feminism. We see examples of this through shows like HBO's hit Girls or Comedy Central's Broad City. Both Shows about females in their mid 20's who are unapologetic about their sexual lives and their bodies. There is little to no inclusivity though when it comes to race. The situation only gets worse when they add an obvious token minority (when a minority is added to a series with no backstory, they are one of the only minorities added to a series.) The great thing about media is that it still has a chance to progress with issues. For example, in an episode of Broad City from the past season, one of the main characters, Ilana, was called out on cultural appropriation. This is not much, but it still gives me hope that shows that are known to be feminist can begin or continue to be more inclusive.