Feminism – What I’ve Learnt

Today I want to to talk about feminism.

I want to talk about it because it’s something that’s very important to me and recently I’ve been learning a lot about it and, in the process, learning a lot about myself. This probably won’t be very long – the sole purpose is really for me to outline what I’ve learnt and hopefully someone else will learn something from it.

White vs Intersectional Feminism

Being a white person doesn’t automatically make you a white feminist. You’re a ‘white feminist’ if your feminism caters solely to white, cis-gendered, heterosexual women and ignores the experiences of non-white women (woc), LGBTQ+ women and women belonging to ‘minority’ religions in our western society. So, while most white feminists are white people, not all white people are white feminists.

Intersectional feminism is the opposite of white feminism: it is inclusive of the minority groups which get excluded from white feminism. It acknowledges that not all women experience misogyny or sexism in the same way because of their race, sexuality, gender identity or religion. For example, the wage gap. We all know it exists, but what some of us may not understand or think about (myself included until recently) is that white women, despite making less than their male counterparts, make more than woc in America. Not to mention that black and hispanic men often make less than white men as well. I found this chart on Vicky’s twitter which will hopefully help with what I’m trying to say:

In summary: over the last couple of weeks I’ve learnt to take into account the fact that not all women experience misogyny and sexism in the same way and that it’s important to listen when woc and LGBTQ+ women speak out about important things related to their different experiences. Even if I feel very strongly about an issue, it’s important not to overshadow people who actually know what it’s like to struggle because of said problem because they’ll likely know more about it than I do.

Cultural Appropriation

In case you don’t know (which is okay, as I said, I only learnt these things recently myself) cultural appropriation is when someone from one culture wears something from another culture, whether as a costume or just part of everyday life. Some examples of this would be white people with dreadlocks *cough Miley cough*, wearing a bindi if you aren’t from South-East Asia or don’t follow a religion (typically Hinduism) where bindis are a form of traditional attire, or non-Native Americans wearing ‘Native headdresses’ as Halloween costumes. Some of you may be asking why this is important. ‘Surely they’re just clothing.’ However, that isn’t the case; people belonging to the culture that is being copied are often ridiculed for looking a certain way or wearing certain clothing related to their own culture, but when white people do it it’s seen as ‘trendy’. Obviously this can be very harmful and sometimes even offensive because it’s as if a whole culture is being reduced down to a dress-up costume (not to mention enforcing stereotypes about certain races that really just aren’t true – ever seen those ‘Mexican’ costumes with a sombrero and poncho?).

I wanted to keep this short so that’s what I’m doing, these are just the two things I wanted to talk about which I felt were important. I’m constantly learning new things and I love it because it’s making me a better person and is opening up my eyes to a lot of things.

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