I can honestly say that I hadn’t truly gotten into the spirit of Twitter until about two days ago. Having only been on the website for a little under three weeks, I had thus far tweeted and engaged with the website very conservatively, avoiding worldwide trending topics. All of that changed when I looked to the left-hand side of the screen and saw this: #solidarityisforwhitewomen.
According to Mikki Kendall, creator of the hashtag, #solidarityisforwhitewomen began in “a moment of frustration.” Self-proclaimed “male feminist” Hugo Schwyzer built a career on silencing women of color because they “were in the way” and was granted platforms on feminist blogs such as xoJane, Jezebel, and Feministe in the process. In the wake of his very public Twitter meltdown, during an argument with Schwyzer’s former editor, Jill Filipovic, Kendall accused her and other mainstream feminists of being dismissive towards women of color victimized by Schwyzer:
And thus a worldwide trending topic was born.
As was probably evidenced by the fact that I only joined Twitter recently, it’s safe to say that I don’t run in any particularly large, mainstream feminist circles. So, admittedly, I had never even heard of Hugo Schwyzer until a few days ago. That being said, as someone who, for a while now, has felt like she has been fighting with feminists more often than banding with them, I identified with #solidarityisforwhitewomen long before I knew its backstory. And I’m invested in prolonging the conversation it’s sparked because listening without a perspective shift is not really listening after all.
This is more than being quiet while women of color vent (although more of that is needed). This is about how the mainstream feminist movement sorely needs a re-evaluation of priorities before purporting to speak for all women. To illustrate:
I want us to stop avoiding this conversation by citing “different kinds of feminism”: There's a mainstream, traditional, Western feminism that carries with it a lot of privilege and power, purports to speak for all women, and has a negative impact on those it doesn’t represent domestically and abroad. It does very little to pay lip service to intersectionality in your Women and Gender Studies class for a semester but have no critique of the liberal feminist narrative of progress that’s devoid of a social-justice element. If you view the world solely through the lens of patriarchy, you’re going to miss the other forms of oppression with which you’re complicit. And your “feminism” will devolve into #solidarityforwhitewomen.
So I urge you to check out the hashtag, listen, and let the tweets challenge your perspective. And don’t be afraid by any discomfort you may feel, because: