Why white feminism doesn’t represent me
It’s ‘all about Free The Nipple’
Recently, a new age of self-love and feminism has swept across social media and modern culture, many young girls of the new generation have branded their power pink and proud. If you’re not a feminist, you’re self-hating and ignorant, which can be true in some cases. It’s not an unknown fact that members of oppressed minorities internalise racism or misogyny, creating for them many internal problems to unpick as they grow and develop as human beings.
Yet as I realised as a teenager, there’s a very distinct difference between rejecting the need for feminism all together, and rejecting a feminism that excludes you. An exclusion that has proven very toxic to the health and well-being of many women, including those from Muslim and ethnic minority backgrounds. This kind of feminism is most likely the only one you’ll have come across, lauded by many staunch supporters and criticised by many intersectional feminists, recognisable from a few of its titles like; mainstream feminism, liberal feminism or white feminism.
It’s a feminism that refuses to accept the different struggles women can experience due to their race, it’s a feminism that refuses to accept white privilege exists, and lastly it’s a feminism that often uses women of colour as tools to further its own agendas, not to say other feminists don’t also use women of colour to further their own unfounded points, as I’ve seen many non-white feminists try to silence feminism in the west to what they label as ‘real oppression’ in other, often underdeveloped parts of the world.
In February 2015 Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were killed in their home in the midst of rising anti-muslim sentiment in the USA in the Chapel Hill shootings. This brutal murder marked a realisation for me, when certain American feminists groups constantly called on the severe oppression many women faced in Muslim countries as a reason to invade and free them, yet turned away from this murder. Two Muslim women right here in the west was killed, and these same groups were doing the most to dismiss it as anything but a hate crime. You would have thought that they would stand by the family in solidarity, and it is here that western feminism fully exposed itself. Where was the passion from these feminists who spoke so righteously on Muslim women being second class citizens abroad, on this horrific incident? They genuinely did not care. Of course their concerns on the rights of Muslim women in places like Saudia Arabia were legitimate, but hypocrisy shone through when the issue of Islamophobia cropped up. As an issue that affected women, it should have been a concern for feminists and a cause to get behind, but with mainstream/feminism, that often patronises Muslim women with groups like FEMEN attacking the way they chose to dress, it didn’t matter at all.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my 20 years, is that mainstream feminists will dismiss issues like racism and Islamophobia, simply because it does not affect them, as well as carelessly use women of colour and their struggles as a vehicle for their own gain. As a result many young girls and women have become disillusioned with the word feminism, as a tired out movement that has no real relevance to them, as a friend of mine put it ‘all about free the nipple.’
Luckily young Black, Asian, Arab etc girls can champion self-love and their fight against patriarchy and white supremacy with intersectional feminism. There’s a long history of Muslim feminists working within their communities in their own fight against the flaws of their society. Just because mainstream feminism is everywhere, doesn’t mean we have to accept it in all it’s Jezebel, free the nipple, Hillary Clinton glory.
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