What Does White Feminism Mean, Anyway?

Links to Articles and Resources About Intersectional Feminism
by Alexis Barad-Cutler

It is difficult to separate issues related to feminism from conversations about motherhood. And if we are going to talk about feminism, we cannot ignore that very often as a community, we tend to approach it through the lens of white feminism. What is white feminism, you ask? In her Vogue essay, “When Feminism is White Supremacy in Heels” (a must-read), activist and writer Rachel Cargle explains that feminism isn’t intersectional unless there is “intentional and action-based inclusion of women of color.”

We had a fantastic discussion about it last week on Mom Group (you can read it under “Feminism” highlights). A few earnest questions came up during this conversation that I didn’t post, but that I hope some of this reading can help illuminate. For example, some (nsfmg) members wrote to askwhy we, as white women, are dissuaded from asking people of color to explain what makes certain statements racist, or to explain white feminism. Again, Rachel Cargle’s essay has a great response:

“When you begin to feel defensive about the conversation of race, demanding explanations, it is like a man walking into a women’s space saying: “Make me feel more comfortable in this moment, even though the point of this space is sorting out how I make you feel uncomfortable everyday in multiple ways.”

I wanted to include some helpful links below, to anyone interested in learning more about white feminism, toxic white feminism, and intersectional feminism. Would love to know your favorite articles and resources, too. Comment below! Click on images to read more.

Rachel Cargle’s Online Course (for purchase): “Unpacking White Feminism”


I’ve been following Rachel Cargle for over a year now, and have learned so much from her work and her activism. She’s a gifted writer, and speaker — and her online lecture is a great introduction to anyone interested in starting their education on intersectionality and what white feminism means. Click image above to go to the site.


Why I’m Giving Up On Intersectional Feminism
by Tamela J. Gordon, via Quartzy

Reuters/Patrick T. Fallon via Quartzy.com

Reuters/Patrick T. Fallon via Quartzy.com

The author writes about how intersectional feminism, in practice, let her down; and how in order to be truly intersectional, one must adopt black feminist values.

Excerpt: “As the honeymoon wore off, I began to notice some things I hadn’t before. For starters, many white women announced themselves as intersectional feminists, yet, were still completely detached from the lives and issues of cis and trans black women and women of color. I also noticed that black women and women of color weren’t too quick to join the intersectional movement either. Instincts and too many bad experiences in white-centered environments made them very distrustful of intersectional feminism. . .” Click image above to go to the article.



Rebecca Traister, author of 'Good and Mad' discusses the power of women's rage, the constant labor of black women in social and political movements, and what restorative justice looks like to those whom history has harmed:


“But, at the same time, I put the anger that’s being expressed right now in historic context. And in the context of a power structure in which many white women—including me—benefit from some of the very kinds of structures that oppress many of the women that we not only need to be allied with, but who have spent years engaged in this fight. I want to make sure that those who are entering the conversation understand that it has been going on for a long time. And that much of the work that they’re beginning to learn, the thinking that is new to them, is thinking that has been done by leaders and intellectual pioneers—many of them women of color, women who have not been able to enjoy proximal power of the white patriarchy. And everybody who wants to be engaged from this will benefit from knowing the history that precedes it, the work that has foregrounded this.” Click image above to go to the site.


Women's liberation movement in Washington, DC, August 26, 1970. Don Carl Steffen/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images via Vox.com

Looking for a pretty detailed overview of alllllll the waves of feminism, and how we got to where we are today? This is a pretty great read. Click image above to read the full article.