Missing the point about race and feminism
I may have spoken too soon. Jezebel has pointed out out that all of the women in the photo accompanying the Newsweek story are white. And in response, the women of Equality Myth have made two pretty unconvincing points. Emphasis is mine throughout.
All of the women in this photo work or used to work at Newsweek. And yes, all of them are white, but you should really read the piece for some context. The photo isn’t meant to illustrate the face of feminism, it’s actually just a link to the package … True, there probably aren’t enough people of color working here—or in the media in general—just as there aren’t enough women. And for the record, the few women of color who worked at Newsweek during the 1970 suit declined to sign the complaint against the company.
The subtext here is that the women of colour on staff weren’t good warriors, and therefore don’t deserve to be celebrated today. I hope that’s not what was intended, but in any case this highlights a missed opportunity in the original article.
Why didn’t the women of colour on staff sign the complaint in 1970? Were they approached by the white women organizing the action? Did they feel less secure in their jobs, or less supported by the broader feminist community? Had they made less progress? Have they made less progress since? A look, however brief, into these questions would have given us a really interesting angle on the conflict, and would have touched on one of the defining feminist issues of the last 40 years – the intersection of sexism and racism.
And then there’s this:
What bothers us most about their post, though, is that it’s important for feminists to stick together—especially when there’s not much discussion of the F word in the mainstream media at all.
For a long time, marginalized groups within marginalized groups have been told to sit down and shut up, lest they make the broader movement less palatable to the masses. So let’s be clear – when we throw women of colour under the bus, that’s the very opposite of “sticking together.”
Finally, I just don’t accept the premise that feminism is an easier sell without anti-racism. All of the major outstanding feminist issues are deeply entwined with issues of race, in ways that I think a broad, mainstream audience understands. By ignoring race, we only make ourselves more irrelevant.