single issue white feminism which has as its primary goal equality with men in

Single issue white feminism which has as its primary

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single-issue (white) feminism, which has as its primary goal equality with men, in terms of equal access to jobs and equal pay for those labors. The ‘lean - in’ brand of white feminism exemplifies this equality idea (Hess). However, as bell hooks in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984) argues, this goal begs the question to which men women want to be equal: Since men are not equals in white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal class structure, which men do women want to be equal to? Do women share a common vision of what equality means? Implicit in this simplistic definition of women’s liberation is a
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7 dismissal of race and class as factors that, in conjunction with sexism, determine the extent to which an individual will be discriminated against, exploited, or oppressed. (18) Often within mainstream feminism, race and class are dismissed as factors as white feminists try to impose ideas about “sisterhood” and women’s liberation. For women with socioeconomic privilege, it appears that as long as (some) women have opportunities to participate on equal footing with men in the white, supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist economy, there is little more to be achieved. Those left outside of this narrow definition of feminism, however, have created their own feminisms that respond to their lived experiences. The research and scholarship that forms the body of critical whiteness studies can be helpful to the mainstream feminist movement. Privilege discourse is one of the most common and powerful ways that people today are taught to understand the power dynamics behind patriarchy and racism. Peggy McIntosh, who is the founder of the National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) and former associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, is well known for her essays on white privilege and male privilege. Reflecting on the oppressiveness of privilege, McIntosh wrote: “After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of Color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive.” The power dynamics and difficulty forming alliances between white women and women of Color are shaped by this privilege. Zeus Leonardo, who is a professor of education and critical social theorist at UC Berkeley, explains that it is necessary to move beyond conversations about white privilege to provide equal attention to white supremacy. He argues that while white supremacy is the
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