In honour of the Women’s March taking place tomorrow in Downtown, Vancouver, I wanted to give my insight on feminism. Not just general feminism, but specifically cis-white feminism. Feminism is defined as equality between both men and women. Nowadays the movement itself gets blurred between the lines.
Women of colour are constantly at the bottom of the barrel. For instance, white women were given the right to vote in the 1920’s, while black women were given the right to vote in the 1960’s in certain number of states only. Black women are still subjected to be victims of violence while also being ignored of said violence when spoken out. Indigenous women are being murdered and raped for decades. They are left being ignored by the justice system leaving little to no answers or closure for their loved ones. A good example is the Highway of Tears where a white womans’ murder was investigated and broadcasted on various news outlets, yet hundreds of Indigenous women were murdered on said highway and left ignored by the justice system. Asian and Middle Eastern women are sexualized and fetishized to no end. Seen as submissive women with high-sex drives, as their bodies are seen as commodities instead of actual beings themselves. Women of colour face issues that affect their lives and well-beings as a whole.
Yet, here we are watching white women screaming free the nipple and so forth, ignoring the main issues at hand. Before anyone jumps to conclusion, I am not saying all white women have that intention, but it’s such a spread around narrative that erases the issues that women of colour face greatly. On top of this, one of the biggest erasures within feminism is trans women. Trans women are sometimes seen as invisible or not seen when it comes to feminism. Many women don’t include trans women within the movement because they see them as what they were before their transitions, which is an extremely toxic mindset to key into. The violence rate for trans women is extremely frightening and unnoticed. White women also made up a huge percentage of those who voted for President Donald Trump at the previous US elections. That itself shows that minority women issues don’t matter to white women UNLESS they solely affect them personally. Immigration, refugees, slandering of people of colour; these never affected white women enough to not vote for President Trump.
This movement should not eliminate certain groups just because they don’t fit the poster cis-white woman image of early day feminism. Oscar winning actress, Amy Adams, faced many moments of sexual harassment and unequal pay, but she is using her platform to raise awareness on equal pay for lower-middle class citizens instead of the Hollywood industry. Hollywood actresses have been very vocal on equal pay, which is valid, but when looking at the issue in a different perspective, you see these women fighting to go from, lets say, one million to two million dollars. That itself is wealth privileged, when there are so many lower-middle class women who are struggle to even cook another meal based off unequal pay. Amy Adams sees her privilege and acknowledges it’s existence.
“Everyone wanted me to talk about how I felt about it, but I want to fight for people outside our industry, so to come out and look ungrateful about what I’m paid as an actress just didn’t feel right.”
“I do believe in equal pay, but let’s start with our teachers. Let’s get waiters paid the minimum wage. That’s what’s great about what’s happening with Time’s Up — we’re starting to have bigger conversations than just about what’s happening in Hollywood.”
In 2018, Equal Pay Day took place in the US showcasing how much women work for compared to men. What it ended up showcasing though is how much less women of colour have been making compared to white women. For every dollar a man makes white women make average 79 cents, black women 63 cents, native american 57 cents, and latinx women 57 cents. This itself shows that there isn’t much being done for women of colour regarding feminism as a whole.
So before you head to the Women’s March tomorrow or have a conversation about feminism, let’s not forget that women of colour and transwomen are needing equal rights too. We have a voice but that voice won’t go far if other minuscule issues block the way. Women can survive not freeing the nipple, but most women cannot survive when violence, abuse, and neglect is shoved under the rug for centuries.