I thought that being a feminist meant I was doing “the right thing” for women – helping to promote gender equality, supporting women at work as well as in the home.
I had heard about intersectionality, but I naively assumed that remembering to include profiles of black women, or inviting my black friends to speak at my events was enough.
If I’m being truly honest, I think I arrogantly believed that my brown skin gave me a free pass – I was naturally intersectional, without even having to try.
Clearly, I was wrong.
It’s not enough to pay lip service when there are genuine issues involved.
It’s not feminism when you’re helping some women, rather than all women.
I feel let down by feminism. And by that I mean mainstream, white feminism.
I bought into the myth that the suffragettes fought for votes for all women, and never realised that feminists could also be racist. I never thought that white women could throw black women and women of colour under the proverbial bus in their attempts for self-preservation and progression.
Feminism let me down, because it didn’t already include all women.
Despite the black women, and indigenous women, and many other women of colour who helped pave the way for the suffragettes to earn the right for white women to vote, feminism still did not make space for them. As white women marched on towards equality in the home and at work, black women and women of colour were still fighting for their democratic right to vote for another 45 years.
Feminism did not already include all women – it needed Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to coin the term intersectionality, and even then it was still treated like a flavour of feminism, rather than the default or mainstream.
Feminism = white feminism.
I believed in feminism, but now I realise it did not believe in me.
Feminism let me down.
If you want to restore your faith in feminism, I highly recommend reading Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall – it’s given me hope for the future.