And we're back with Part Two! This year was so awash with white feminist fuckery that I had to compile two lists! Isn't that just delightful fun? Thankfully I'm in a pretty good mood today because I finally got my copy of Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist and there's very little that can bring me down, but this post is already two days late, so let's get down to business. There's much more fuckery to mock and cry over. Don't forget to check out Part One!
11. Emma Watson Thinks Feminism Should Be Nicer To Men: Back in September, real life S.P.E.W. member Emma Watson gave a speech at the UN advocating for the HeforShe "Solidarity for Gender Equality" movement. The speech was a direct appeal to men to get involved in the fight for gender equality because of the varying ways that the patriarchy hurts men too. She asked me to think of their sisters, wives and daughters, and the mainstream media ate that shit up. But as good as Emma's intentions were (and I genuinely believe they were good) her speech once again asked us to centre men in a movement meant to benefit women. It also ignored an intersectional approach that would have focused more resources to help women of colour and poor and working class women, in favour of... making sure men felt more welcome. While I don't remember who said it first, (I think I first heard if from Roxane Gay, but if you know for sure, let me know!) [EDIT: I'm told it was actually Kelly Temple] I think it's important to remember that men shouldn't be asking us to make feminist spaces more comfortable for them. They should taking the spaces they occupy in the world, and making them feminist. Emma's speech asked us to make nice with men instead of asking men to make nice with us.
12. Feminist T-Shirts Made by Economically Depressed Women of Colour: Speaking of intersectionality, while Hermione was asking us to be nice to men and posing for pictures, women in Mauritius were being paid a dollar an hour to fabricate the feminist credentials of many of our favourite celebrities. In other words, hundreds of women were being subjected to unfit working conditions and ushered into the vicious cycle of poverty, while Cumberbatch pointed at his face. Nice. This is one of the reasons that intersectionality is so important. While in the West we might think getting people to identify as feminists is all it takes, there are women with concerns that are far more pressing; like earning a living wage. Parading their feminism does exactly squat for them, and shaming women who are living paycheck to paycheck for not wanting to align themselves with a movement that has yet to show that it is at all concerned with their interests in bullshit.
13. Lena Dunham Doesn't Pay: During promotion for her book tour, it was revealed that Lena Dunham was not paying the people hired to perform at her appearances, despite the tour being virtually sold out. But don't worry, she changed her mind after she was publicly shamed!
14. Annie Lennox Thinks Lynching Is Universal: Expertly following up her intersectional feminist fail, earlier in the promotion cycle for her new album, Annie Lennox discussed her cover of Strange Fruit, saying:
It's a human theme that has gone on for time immemorial. It's expressed in all kinds of different ways, whether it be racism, whether it be domestic violence, whether it be warfare, or a terrorist act, or simply on person attacking another person in a separate incident.
Ms. Lennox, I'm gonna need you to stop. Strange Fruit is not a metaphor. It is not a broad song that covers all kinds of injustice. It is literally a song about black people being lynched by white people. It's right there in the lyrics. There is zero room for interpretation. For a white artist to cover this song and then try to whitewash it's meaning is active violence against the memory of the African-American people who lost their life due to the deep seated racism of white Americans. There is no generalizing that experience. It is not universal. Annie Lennox can have several seats.
15. White Lady Pretends To Save The Brown Girls To Promote Her Movie: Ramaa Mosely, director of the film Girl Rising, attempted to claim credit for the global #BringBackOurGirls movement, started as a way to help gain media attention for the April kidnapping of the Chibok girls in Nigeria. Mosley gave several interviews insinuating herself as a concerned L.A. mom who "just had to do something." It was only later that it was revealed that Mosley's movie was scheduled to screen on CNN that weekend. Girl Rising also fraudulently collected over $14K in donations from concerned parties, under the guise that the money would going to the effort to rescue the Chibok girls. In fact, the money was being funneled to Girl Rising's charity of choice, and the solicitations had been made under false pretenses. Save the brown girls by lying to people who care! Feminism!
16. Buzzfeed Doesn't think Survivors Are Entitled To Control Their Stories: Back in March, twitter user @steenfox facilitated a healing discussion on her timeline about sexual assault. Before the conversation even ended, Buzzfeed had written about the conversation, embedding tweets that disclosed some users most painful disclosures about the night they were assaulted. Users were understandably peeved that their intimate conversations had been opened up to BuzzFeed's audience of millions overnight; an act that could potentially (and did) open them up to further abuse online. Buzzfeed insisted it had permission, and the Poynter institute backed them with a condescending post stating that no one needed permission to access public tweets. But not only did Buzzfeed (and Poynter) not recognize that journalism has a duty to not cause active harm to its subjects especially when tackling such a sensitive subject, it conveniently forgot that actual reporting entails more than simply copy-pasting other people's words, to the detriment of the many black women who had finally felt safe enough to disclose their assaults. Feminism: All about the clicks!
17: Beyoncé Is Not A Feminist: No roundup of 2014 would be complete without definitive mention that Beyoncé is not a feminist. Nope. Not at all. Not even a little. There is absolutely no way. It's just not possible. I mean, she's not even trying. Beyoncé is the anti-christ. Or something. Moving on.
18: Only White Butts Need Apply: Pretty much every lady magazine will tell you that 2014 was the year of the booty. Except, not the booties that were roaming around wild in nature in those terrifying "urban neighborhoods." The cute booties. The nice booties. The white ones. Between Iggy Azalea, JLo and Meghan Trainor brining booty back, it was a wonder that people were so alarmed at the the appearance of Nicki Minaj's bountiful booty on the cover of her artwork for her single Anaconda. Meghan Trainor's songs got hailed as a feminist anthem. Nicki Minaj's song got her concern trolled. Can anyone spot the difference?
19: Racism And Transphobia Are Feminist Virtues When You're Joan Rivers: Legendary comic Joan Rivers passed away earlier this year. While my condolences go to her family, I have little to zero sympathy for a woman who stayed relevant by mocking abuse survivors and making transphobic, homophobic and racist "jokes." She can be your idol if that's what you're into, but my feminism doesn't have room for women who trade on the damaging stereotype of black women as inherently masculine for laughs. And it definitely doesn't have room for women who reinforce the idea that trans women aren't "real" women by calling the men they love gay for loving them back. That isn't to negate the legacy she left for female comics. But if the only female comics who benefitted from her presence are the white ones, well then I have a problem with that too.
20: Basic Bitches Are Misogyny Incarnate: I left this entry for last because it's my personal favourite. In 2014, white people got a hold of the word "basic," specifically "basic bitch." By the unique power of Columbusing it because shorthand for pumpkin spice drinking, uggs wearing white girls with high ponytails, and because this is the internet, it soon became a weapon to use against those girls. And so it had to be stopped. None shall speak ill of the white girls! But as Kara Brown's fantastic piece explains, it is the highest form of Columbusing to take an expression not native to your community, change the meaning into something insidious, and then insist that the original community never use it anymore because now it means "something bad." Brown succinctly defines the problem with my favourite sentence of 2014:
If you will allow me to get very, very real for a minute: this hysteria over basic is really just a bunch of privileged white girls caring too much about what other people think.
Speak it to power, Kara.
***** ***** *****
This of course, is by no means an exhaustive list. Lots of tomfoolery likely escaped my personal notice, but unfortunately we can probably look forward to more nonsense in 2015. The point of this post is simply to show that anti-intersectionality is a continued pattern of disregard for women of colour, and that when we bring this to your attention, we aren't making it up. White feminism loves to ask for receipts. It loves to gaslight and diminish us. It loves to pretend that our concerns are irrelevant or insignificant. Hopefully this list will serve as a reminder that black women, native women, working class women, trans women are feminists too, and we'd like to be allowed to be part of a movement that claims to advocate for our well-being. Don't force me to make another list next year.