Dear white women

Written by Katie Shantz

Dear White Women,

I am a 21-year-old, queer, Asian-American woman. I am a feminist, and I support very few women.

…When I heard about the murders of 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee and 40-year-old Michelle Go — who were both killed in unprovoked attacks in New York City — I was heartbroken and scared.

As I grappled with the realities of Lee’s and Go’s deaths, I began to ask myself questions: How many more Asian-American women must die before the mainstream media considers it coverage-worthy? Am I going to get pushed in front of a train? And where are the voices of my white, feminist friends when countless Asian-American women have been murdered?

Between tone-deaf declarations for justice, dismissing calls for solidarity and concerns over their egos being threatened, it is clear that a shared fragility among most white women is alive and well. Nowadays, protests seem like an event for most white women, who do arts and crafts the night before all for a social post with the word “intersectionality” tossed somewhere in the caption.

If we’re talking about recent news, it wasn’t until the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that white women came out in the millions. Suddenly they cared and knew how to organize. Women of color have been protesting for reproductive freedom and access for a long time.

In the most critical moments of showing up for marginalized communities, I’ve noticed either an immediate reaction of defense about their “feminist-ness” being challenged or, well, crickets. Even among so-called progressive white women.

It is this type of behavior that drives white feminism — the type you most often see in mainstream western media. White feminism is, and always has been, for cisgender, white women and girls, and that’s how it’s been embedded in political discourse.

Let’s go back. White feminism can be traced throughout the history of the feminist movement in the western world, starting with the suffragettes who advocated for the right of white women to vote at the Seneca Falls Convention. The participants included middle and upper-class white women.

No Black women attended the convention. None were invited. By the 20th century, Black suffragists who represented intersectional feminism at its best were drowned out by white feminists, who insisted their activism and presence at landmark events were pure fiction.

Today, white feminism caters to and teaches white women to be like white men. You’re often taught to be dominating, to foray into male-dominated careers, to “girl boss” your way to the top, usually without pushing for white men to hold more accountability.

If the goal of your feminism is to get equal or higher power with white men, you’re going to have to oppress a bunch of marginalized people, including women of color, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

So, as tone policing, white saviorism and centering all continuously play out in a seemingly never-ending loop, it is painfully obvious that most white women believe that one of the worst things that can happen to them is being called racist or having their commitment to upholding true feminist ideals questioned.

I can assure you it is not. Seeing people who look like you being brutally murdered, turned away from different opportunities due to race and underlying biases, being expected to live up to hypersexualized tropes and stereotypes tying back to race and a plethora

of other scenarios that are a reality to most women of color are much worse.

In order for the feminist movement to truly be progressive and intersectional, white women must acknowledge the damage they’ve caused and take on their share of the work. If you feel yourself dismissing the words and experiences of women of color because you think they’re overreacting, it’s probably because of your ego. 

We are long overdue to dismantle this system, so it’s in your best interest to listen and learn from the women who fall, completely unsupported, through the gaps of your version of feminism.