Rowan Blanchard, the 13-year-old star of the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World, who counts “well-grounded, brave and strong girls” among her 267,000 Twitter followers, is no stranger to using her voice to speak out on important issues. She recently posted an essay on her tumblr page in response to a question she was asked by a follower about “white feminism”. As Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and proud feminist, said of Rowan’s essay, “This is called ‘hitting the nail on the head’.”
Tumblr user, grnblu, asked, “row, i wanted to ask your opinion on the term ‘white feminism’ and how common feminism might exclude women of color and non cis/queer women (ex: women are stonger bc they have periods! or men dont have to think about how they dress when in public!).” Rowan responded…
Hi! This is such an important thing to be discussing. I have made a very big point at making sure my personal feminism includes everyone- and educating myself and discussing these topics have really helped.
Issues that are commonly thought of as feminist issues include sexual assault, rape, abortion, Planned Parenthood, domestic violence, equal education, and the wage gap. Feminists have also adopted marriage equality and gay/lesbian rights as their issue which is wonderful.
However, with as many issues as feminists have succeeded in adopting, many of us seem to have not accepted the fact that police brutality and race issues are our issues too.
“White feminism” forgets all about intersectional feminism. The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women. While white women are making 78 cents to the dollar, Native American women are making 65 cents, black women are making 64 cents, and Hispanic women are making 54 cents. Kimberlé Crenshaw said it perfectly in 1989 when she said “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.” This includes trans women especially, who have been robbed of their souls when they are told they are not “real women”. It is SO important to protect trans women and trans youth as they are incredibly at risk when it comes to sexual assault and hate crimes. People also seem to forget that black women are victims of police violence too- from Sandra Bland to India Clarke- a trans woman who was beaten to death in Florida just a month ago.
The fact that when Amandla Stenberg wrote this beautiful and truthful piece she was automatically labeled the “angry black girl” says enough. We are so quick to applaud white women for commenting on race issues/discussions like #BlackLivesMatter, and #SayHerName, but when a black girl comments on it- she is told she is overreacting or being angry.
Comments like the ones you mentioned in your question drive me insane. I have personally seen men get called gay/ f**/ pu*** for wearing anything even remotely feminine. Gay is simply not an insult. Also, let’s not forget that black men cannot wear hoods without being stereotyped as thugs.
To only acknowledge feminism from a one sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all. We need to be talking about this more. Discussion leads to change. Xo, Row
We can all learn a lot from this young woman. Brava Row!
Lead image: Rowan Blanchard’s Instagram