“I’m not a feminist, but…I support women!”
Yes. Because white women know what happens when *we align with feminism.
It’s a risk. There’s a lot of privilege on the line. And many of us are far too fragile and far too fearful, to jeopardize our access to this *privilege. So we don’t align. We don’t support the work. We stay silent when feminism is mocked and slandered. We laugh along. We ridicule and demonize feminists - picking them apart with the same debilitating perfectionism that we police ourselves with.
Except, when we dialogue with *other women, when we listen to women outside white Christian America, (Black women, Indigenous women, women of color and culture, women on government assistance, solo moms, incarcerated women, women in abusive relationships, women tangled up in domestic violence, marginalized women, women experiencing deep depression or suicidal ideology, women at shelters, women in therapy, women at the gym DOING INNER WORK, etc, etc...) we hear a song stuck on repeat:
“I once had low self-worth."
"I suffered from low self-esteem."
"I was raised to be quiet, obey, and submit to men in authority, without question."
"I didn't have permission to use my voice."
"When I did use my voice, I was not heard."
"I HAD NO AGENCY to protect myself from violence, manipulation, and dependency."
When we engage in dialogue with *other women, we also learn that a large part of healing - an essential element of raising dignity levels, fortifying inner strength, grasping at wisdom, standing in discernment, and taking strides toward self-sufficiency - comes from adopting feminist theories. Feminism, at the most elementary level, is the belief that *all genders should have equal rights and opportunities. Feminism counters supremacy, racism, exploitation within capitalism, patriarchy, and social ills that keep *all women down, under, and held below. It is about respecting diverse experiences, identities, knowledge, and strengths for every human within this intersectional and global community.
*The path from the dehumanization of women to the disposal of women is swift and sweeping.
“Authentic allyship is not about amplifying your own voice, but rather listening to the voices of people within that community and what they are saying. They need to be uplifted.”
– Graham Ball, Penn State Law
White-women supremacy club culture, however, prefers to throw resources at religious institutions claiming to “help women” but instead merely perpetuate patriarchal values, demonize feminism, exploiting a woman's journey for their marketing purposes. White women also prefer a good social performance, preferring work that offers public recognition for our financial "gifts." Performative allyship, according to Penn State Law graduates, is disingenuous, based on the idea of self-gratification, and ignores responsibility within a community.
Something else to consider, especially for us white women living in the north, many cities, like beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, that host a 90% white population and a .42% black population: the cancer of racism hides out within infrastructure. These places, where groups like the KKK and Proud Boys are given the silent nod to comfortably maintain a presence, are also aware that intersectional feminism was planted by the seeds of, and traveled on the coattails of, Black women. Could the rejection of feminism by white women, in addition to allegiance to supremacy and patriarchy, be rooted in racism? I'd love to hear responses from white women, except... most white women leave me on read when I ask difficult or challenging questions. *Our fragility is too often too brittle for hosting a capacity to hold the weight of engaging in productive dialogue.
Feminism also works to keep women safe from violence. Research shows Black women experience much higher rates of domestic and sexual abuse from partners than white women. If feminism works to keep Black, Indigenous, and women of color safe from violence, why don't more white women support it?
"Not only do [Black women] endure racism but we are also seen as women — experiencing the systems of patriarchy and sexism that white women face. But in a nasty plot twist, we are not entirely seen as women forcing us to experience specific injustices similar to the experiences of some Black men. Simply put, we are not seen as valuable or worthy of protection."
Being caught up in the ethnocentrism of supremacy, *we white women routinely center our white Christian outlook as superior. We privately recline, enjoying the fruits of feminist labors, while vilifying feminism publicly, where "our" white men will see our allegiance and celebrate us, in-kind. I've yet to see many white influencers show up to women's marches, work for systemic change, or express outrage at racist acts. That's because white supremacy is volatile, and in order for influencers to stay visible and protected by white men, white women cannot afford to get involved.
I, too, am a "late blooming feminist" (rest in power, RBG). But I am also right on time. I am blooming right now for right now. Feminism, up here in the north, or what I call "The Bible Bowtie", is just another F-word. In religious clubs, white women use the archaic term "women's lib", never allowing the full word, liberation, to roll off the lips. These women apply it condescendingly to crazy women who believe in supporting the freedom and safety of *all women.
I made the mistake of believing the "women's empowerment culture" up here in white woman land would support a community space for *all women of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs - a feminist space within a patriarchal town. What I learned, was that the social media following of over 2,000 white women was strictly performative, or as Oprah calls it: cotton candy. Women used a social, public, affiliation to our efforts only to promote themselves, while the actual space itself stood empty and eventually closed. Only later would I learn that the closure was not only due to a lack of support and a global pandemic, but also because white women's social and civic clubs, on behalf of the white male stakeholders they ultimately served, were actively working under the surface - like cancer in the bones of a community - to destroy something that was meant to expand opportunities to *all women. With a 90% white local population, I came to find out there is no such thing as "Karen culture", it is simply THE culture. It also explained why many local white women cannot see themselves as racist, because they simply behave this way to everyone - especially other white women.
For me, frustration breeds creativity. When I'm committed to working through challenges I make something: art, research papers, crafts, food, poetry...love. The frustrations of caretaking a child with cancer led me to write a book, assist my child in writing a book, and colorfully decorate our long-term stay hospital room. And now, immersed within a cancerous community culture, I created a feminism 101 zine. While I hold the belief that the misinformation surrounding feminism in white-women-club-culture is beyond repair, I also hold a mustard seed of hope for planting new community seeds for seeing a change of fruit.
White women, we cannot allow ourselves to stagnate in the swamp of complicity and apathy. The porcelain doll that patriarchy hopes you aspire to be is hollow. I've provided a link below for downloading my free feminism 101 zine, Coeur d'Femme: the heart of feminism. To reject that which we do not understand is to think small. Investing in growth and development is also accepting the pain of facing our ignorance. Yet, simultaneously, by doing so we usher in the joy of increasing our capacity to hold a more expansive and kinder outlook.