On the Arrogance of White Women

To preface:
I suppose this post is in response to things that have happened in the radical feminist blogosphere recently that I’ve only recently become invested in catching up with and interacting with.  I’m a little devastated that people who were writing material I found very profound and important are engaging in behavior which seems at face value to be racist and ignorant.  I’m still trying to figure it out.

Its important to be invested in the fight against white supremacy, if you are a white feminist for the simple fact that the majority of women on this planet are not white.  It is important because the white female reality is a minority of the feminine reality on this planet.

Its not the job of the rest of the women on this planet to educate you about their reality or how to be their ally.  Can you imagine a man coming up to you and demanding that you tell him how to stop being a sexist?  Doesn’t that come across as kind of like they’re using you to hide their sexism?  To make themselves better people?  How many of us tell the menfolk to get off our blogs when they ask us streams of questions about shit that is obvious to us?  Its no one’s responsibility but yours to educate yourself.  A black woman, or any woman of color is not your personal resource for expanding your consciousness just because she’s down with feminism.

Luckily for us (white women) there have been many women of color throughout history who have written about their realities in the hopes of helping all women rise.  There’s no excuse not to read what they have to say.  Its insane to try to disconnect racism from sexism.  In prostitution whose bodies are sold to the lowest bidder and end up in the gutter? When the government cuts social services who suffers?  When the beauty mandates come down from on high who is alienated from any concept of beauty in the mainstream white culture?  Who are the women having their families ripped apart by the state?  Who are the women who have had to deal with genocidal forced sterilization and birth control testing?  Who are the pregnant women shot in their uterus’ when government raids on “drug cartels” in Latin America?

Racism like all forms of oppression grows out of our learned behavior to objectify other human beings by first dividing ourselves into male and female as children.  Its not hard to realize how integral the fight against racism is to understanding the oppression of women.

Sometimes it seems like all some people want is a seat at the table, greater enfranchisement for *this* marginalized group, or greater enfranchisement for *that* one.  Not a complete overhaul of ALL the institutions which work together to grind women under the patriarchy’s heel.


10 responses to “On the Arrogance of White Women

  1. Thank you for writing this nuclearnight. I only learned of these certain behaviours myself recently as well, and as white womyn, we MUST remember, that there are womyn who experience many layers of oppression, and that being a womon isn’t always a central component to them.

    “Not a complete overhaul of ALL the institutions which work together to grind women under the patriarchy’s heel.”

    This this this!

  2. This post has made me consider the relationship between racism and sexism in a whole new light. Very insightful, cheers.

  3. Thank you for your adamance on this. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I like your perspective. If we don’t give our loyalties down the given hierarchy, rather than up it, how serious can we really be? I know I am always honored when women of Color share their stories of oppression.

    I think hearing each other, carefully and respectfully, and especially supportively, helps begin alliances in a way that almost nothing else can; I think genuinely hearing those who are more oppressed is often harder, and always more important because the disprivileged are always the first silenced, the least heard. And because so many of the interactions are segregated by race here in the western world (family, school associations, work, religious and social affiliations), it becomes too easy to pretend levelness instead of hierarchy, for we who are privileged. Thank you.

  4. It’s true, that what these racist white ‘feminists’ want is a seat at the table. They really don’t give a fuck about any woman who isn’t white, and they make it completely obvious, so anyone who is still hanging around thinking ‘there must be some mistake’ – believe me, there isn’t. They really do mean this shit. And they really are as stupid and laughable as they seem to be.

    • Its natural to want to expect the best from people who you come to enjoy the perspective of, or perhaps have learned things from because many people don’t feel very confident in their own opinions, even if they’re the right ones. So when some issue of blatant willful racism comes up its a big mindfuck. How can someone who has taught me so much and exposed me to so much be so oppressive themselves?

      But anyway, there’s no point in hanging around, if they come to their senses it won’t be because of patience on the part of others.

      • It may be useful to remember that much of what white feminists talk about has been lifted/stolen from non-white feminists in the first place. Margaret and Kitty’s writings in particular are ripped off all the time by white feminists who then act as though they came up with this stuff all by themselves.

  5. we MUST remember, that there are womyn who experience many layers of oppression, and that being a womon isn’t always a central component to them.

    I don’t even necessarily think it’s about femaleness not being a central component to their oppression. It’s about the fact that nonwhite women are never *just* women. We’re always female and nonwhite at the same time. So, whatever sexism we experience is never going to be *just* about our femaleness; it’s going to be about our nonwhitefemaleness. The same is true of white women, of course – that whatever sexism white women experience will never *just* be about their femaleness but about their whitefemaleness, since white women are never just female, but female and white at the same time. That doesn’t mean that their whiteness is the central component to their oppression, of course, but it does mean, as Nuclearnight has suggested, that white female people don’t have the entire female perspective.

    That’s what really gets my goat, anyway – that white female people never speak of their experience as being one of whitefemaleness but only of femaleness overall.

    • That bothers me quite a bit, especially the way so many white women act as though they’re just focusing on one issue “sexism” when they aren’t even focusing on the issue.

  6. …so many white women act as though they’re just focusing on one issue “sexism” when they aren’t even focusing on the issue.

    Exactly. I’ve been trying to get women, nonwhite and white alike, to see this for years. What’s really awful is the way so many nonwhite women have been bullied into accepting that white women really are just talking about sexism and nonwhite women are talking about something else.

    Of course, nonwhite women are just as susceptible as white women to the notion that anything that concerns a woman is automatically feminist (whether it’s white women thinking that spending all of their time “educating the misogyny out of” their misogynist white sons and mates is the highest of feminist virtues, or nonwhite women thinking that saving their misogynist nonwhite sons and mates from white men’s batons and prisons is feminist) – but, that’s not the same thing as saying that nonwhitefemale issues are automatically never about sexism unless white women also have those exact same issues, which is what racist-sexist white women who only give a shit about themselves would have you believe.

    Wow, that’s a really long sentence.

  7. This post reminded me of a video by StaceyAnn Chin – the really good part starts at 04:30:

    “All oppression is connected, you dick.”

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