diving deep: toxic, performative and white feminism

The day she shook me awake, I was working in a retail shop. She walked in, quickly making loud remarks about her feminist and leftist views. She kept talking although I didn’t engage with the one-sided conversation or praise her progressiveness. All of a suddenly she seemed to try to get me in a “gotcha” question when she asked “did you march? I hope you did.” (in reference to the 2017 Women’s March in DC). I answered with a “you bet I did”, reflecting on the energy and beauty of that experience. She proceeded to name the reasons why people marched that day, like she understood everyone’s agenda:

“we marched for our rights!”
“for the women who have been discriminated against!”
and ever so casually ended with:
“and for the women who have been sexually assaulted… but I wouldn’t know anything about that because I don’t drink.”

It felt like my skin burned and fell on the floor in that moment. Here, a supposed feminist stood before me, with her loud leftist banter alluding that a woman who drinks alcohol is deserving of sexual abuse and rape.

As a survivor of sexual violence (yes, when I was drunk & incoherent) I wanted to escape. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hurt her. But I just stood there, finished her transaction & watched her walk out the door with an interaction with would impact me for a year, making me relive the trauma I endured & destabilized all the work I had done. This moment will be blazed in my mind forever. To correlate this violence with drinking, a date or a short skirt is the most anti-feminist & dangerous thing I had heard, but this isn’t new. This particular “feminist” has carbon copies, manifesting in other ways.

 

She is the person who makes their “wokeness” visually present with expensive feminist apparel and bumper stickers but sends her kids to the “safe” and “better” private schools.

She is the organizer of women’s spaces and networking groups but caters them to privileged white women.

She is the one proclaiming “but all lives matter!” while never taking inventory of how white supremacy has benefitted her entire existence.

She is the “love and light” type who doesn’t find the need to listen to marginalized voices and concerns, always dismissing real issues of injustice with spiritual bypassing.

She is the woman who believes trans women are not deserving of womanhood and therefore don’t make space for them.

She is the business owner who sells woman-powered prints, liberal apparel and goods but stays silent when sexual assault happens to other women in her community, but a fellow business owner.

She is the woman with dreadlocks, yoga and sage burning but never grazes over the topic of cultural appropriation.

She was me when I didn’t stand up to a “healer” in this community who had harmed women I know.

She shows up everywhere.

 

I share this because we need a wakeup call, we need to understand how our version of feminism can be one-sided, benefitting only ourselves, our views and the people that are in our social circles. We must do better, we must call in all the she in our lives, we must have difficult conversations, we must get uncomfortable and open our minds.

Bethany Frazier