Narrated by: Mozhan Marnò
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Let’s preface this by saying I am a white, cis, British (specifically Welsh) woman, and am writing from that point of view. This is the kind of book I think everyone should read, but most especially white women, like myself. As well as documenting history this book also talks about the experiences of Black women, indigenous women, and women of colour in today’s patriarchal, white world. It outlines how white feminism upholds the white supremacist patriarchy and if you are white, I urge you to pick up a copy of this. And to actually listen to what is said.
I mentioned above that as well as being white, I am cis. These two factors in themselves make me privileged, giving me a certain protection when moving through the world. Have I faced sexism, misogyny, and violence for being a woman? Absolutely I have. But this is nothing compared to what Black, indigenous, and women of colour face daily.
It’s not hard to see regularly how some white women hold up their ‘femineity’ as a shield. We currently witness it deployed against trans women by women who, quite frankly, are protected in many more ways than someone like myself. It all ties in together, and Ruby Hamad has done an amazing job with showing how these kinds of things come about, and giving context to the way many women are treated.
The book starts by highlighting an article written by Hamad, about the experience of white women tears, and the case of a woman who shared the article on her Facebook page, only to then be accused by her employer of creating a ‘hostile’ working environment, because she upset two members of staff – both white women. The irony is clear. The truth is – and this is laid out in the book, too – where all women should be united, white women consistently stand in the way of progress. There are countless examples included in the book of instances where women, in the name of ‘progress’, put down Black women, indigenous women, and women of colour, or when white women will raise their own experiences over any instances of racism as if nothing can be as awful as what they have experienced, or as if it’s worse to be accused of racism than actually being racist.
This book makes it clear that anyone striving to fight for a more progressive, equal world needs to make their activism intersectional. By focusing on white feminism and shutting out women with different experiences and backgrounds, all that happens is the current institutions remain in place. The ‘ideal’ of ‘femineity’ was based on white men’s ideals of femineity, and serves to help absolutely no one.
Anyone interested in feminism should definitely read this book, and keep in mind what it presents, from the history of how white women weaponised femineity against people of colour, to the experiences people are still dealing with regularly today.