Rowan Blanchard, who plays Riley Matthews (daughter of Cory and Topanga) on Boy Meets World sequel Girl Meets World, is only 13 years old but is already so well-informed on feminist issues. (She's definitely way smarter than most men twice, thrice, even four times her age.) A couple months after her UN Women's conference speech about gender inequality, she posted a poignant essay in response to a fan asking her about the term "white feminism." The prompt was: "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 stronger bc they have periods! or men dont have to think about how they dress when in public!)." She responded—on Tumblr, and then in three parts via Instagram (1, 2, 3)—which can be found below:
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 http://instagram.com/p/5D-u1Vm1c8/ 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
Her essay on intersectional feminism shows how women experience inequality on different levels, something we can all learn more about. She also shouts out gender/race issues scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw and fellow feminist teen icon Amandla Stenberg (Rue from The Hunger Games) for calling out cultural appropriation. She concludes with this truth: "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."
Praise hands to Rowan, so eloquent at so young an age. We could all look up to her as a role model. (And look, she's even got Emma Watson on her side):