Feminism vs White Feminism

A recent slam poem ties in well with today’s discussion: http://bit.ly/1X8erQo

This may seem a little off-topic for this blog but I promise my ramblings here are related to books. As you may have heard, Emma Watson has set up a book club on Goodreads and I decided to try it out last month with How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

be Woman image

I have to admit, I didn’t finish this book. There were too many subtle digs at ‘traditional’ women and their behaviours, several transphobic comments, and many times she painted her way of living as the best and only way that all other women should be following. That with a weakly compelling plot meant I only made it about 6 chapters in before I called it quits. But with the way she generalized her own experiences for all women, I thought it was a good time to bring up white feminism.

As Urban Dictionary defines it, white feminism is “a brand of feminism centered around the ideals and struggles of primarily white women. While not outright exclusive, its failure to consider other women and its preoccupation with Western standards and the problems faced by the ‘average woman’ is often alienating to women of color, non-straight women, trans women, and women belonging to religious or cultural minorities”. Caitlin Moran discusses a lot of these ‘average women’ problems: the size of women’s undies, a lack of variety being the main problem in the porn industry rather than the exploitation of the women involved. And while she was not always outright racist or transphobic in her comments, her exclusion of non-white, non-cis women in her musings leave a large gap in her discussion of feminism (as a note to other cis feminists, myself included, women are not only those who wear bras and have babies).

Unfortunately, this miss in Emma Watson’s book club, along with her first month pick by Gloria Steinem, another, seemingly unapologetic, white feminist, do not provide much hope in this book club as a good source of feminist reads. However, others in the club have begun discussions on Goodreads about these problems and are advocating for a broader selection of reads, so hopefully their voices will be heard.

For now, I’ll leave you with some books and other resources that have a broader stance on feminism:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (see my review on Goodreads)

Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

The Essential Feminist Reader by Estelle B. Freedman

Marina Watanabe offers many more recommendations for reading, as well as making videos on various feminist topics. Definitely check her vids out!



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