7 Ways To Raise Your White Daughter Without White Feminism
Raising a daughter is significantly harder than I thought it would be, but my daughter is white. That means life isn't going to be as difficult for her as it is for non-white, non-cisgender women. Her white privilege is very real and so is every white girl's. Which is why knowing ways to raise your white daughter without white feminism are more than just important — they're incredibly necessary.
White feminism isn't new, but with the recent women's marches taking place all over the country, the term is lighting up the world in a big way. Mainly, it's being used to teach white women what they are missing when it comes to feminism, inclusivity, and actually fighting for injustice. Too many white women are angry at the term. I was one of those women, too, until I took a long hard look at my privilege and what it means to support white feminism. And you know what? You might be supporting it and have no idea, but that means you're raising your daughter with white feminism, too.
Feminism, across the board, isn't the same for white, cisgender women and women of color or non-cisgender women. The issues aren't the same, the fights aren't the same, and the concerns definitely aren't the same. While white feminism is rooted in important issues like equal pay and a woman's right to her own body, it's hard for white women to understand a black woman's insistence on fighting police brutality or a transgender woman's fight for equal bathroom rights — but that doesn't mean that just because these issues don't affect us that we shouldn't still be concerned with it. White feminism is being a feminist, but only as it applies to you and people who look like you, and it goes against everything feminism should actually stand for.
But that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. There are seven ways you can make sure to raise your white daughter without white feminism. (And if I'm being honest, there's a lot more than seven ways to do this.) Though understanding your white feminism is a learning experience, with these few steps, you can make it so your little girl is standing up not only for herself, but for everyone around her.
1. Teach Her About Feminist Women Of Color & Their Influences
Nobody loves Lucille Ball more than I do. She was a pioneer in her industry and a woman who routinely pushed, regardless of what the men in her life thought of her actions. I Love Lucy was the first show to feature an interracial couple on TV and the first to feature a pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Though I'm sure that Ball was not perfect, I'm proud of the example she set. However, if I'm going to teach my daughter about feminism, I have to teach her about more than just white women. I have to teach her about the incredible women of color who were also pioneers, who never gave up, and who persevered despite men (and white women) telling them to sit down.
Teaching feminism means teaching about women who were total badasses, and Lucille Ball was. But if most of the names you're talking about with your daughter are white, cisgender women, that's all she's going to see when she thinks of feminism. So introduce her to women like poet and activist Audre Lorde, civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Senator Tammy Duckworth. And then do your research and teach her about a dozen more fantastic women of color. Remind her that white women aren't the only ones who fight for equal rights, and remind her that feminism goes a lot deeper than just being white.
2. Talk About How Inequalities Differ Between Women
Being a white woman doesn't mean you are excluded from injustice. But your injustice looks a lot different to a black woman's injustice or a transgender woman's injustice. This is so important and is something you really have to talk about with your child. Everybody loves to say that they hope their children "don't see color" when looking at other people, but it's dangerous. According to the Pew Research Center, black women experience a larger pay gap between their income and a white man's than a white woman does. Hispanic women suffer from the largest pay gap, making only $12 to a white man's $21. Why is that? Because a company doesn't "see color"? Doubtful.
There are so many factors that can contribute to injustice — race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status. Being a white girl doesn't exclude your daughter from injustice, but it still gives her a privilege that her other friends may not understand. Your daughter should recognize it though.
3. Teach Her To Listen To Other Girls
One big issue with white feminism is how quickly white women are to dismiss the concerns and complaints of women who look different than them. If a black woman reminds you that, according to The New York Times, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, you can't shut her down. Her concerns are valid and, yes, they differ from your issues. But don't tell her not to "bring race into it" or that you two should be "working together for all women." That sounds a lot like shouting, "all lives matter" and everybody knows how that goes.
Teach your daughter to listen to all of the women around her and their concerns, even if she can't understand them. This is a big lesson you can teach when your daughter's just a toddler — everybody has their own feelings and you don't get to tell them that they aren't real or welcome in certain situations.
4. Teach Her To Use Feminism To Fight On All Platforms
And not just equal pay in the workplace or a woman's right to do what she wants with her body. Teach your daughter that as a white feminist, she should also stand up against police brutality. Teach your daughter that racism is a feminist issue, too. Teach her that equality doesn't stop at equal pay or safe abortions — it has to be equal for all women, all people, in all aspects of life.
5. Fight For Representation For All Women
Nobody's saying your daughter can't celebrate who she is and her accomplishments, but it is important to teach her that she should fight for inclusivity and for other women to have the floor, too. If she notices in a school project that she's one of five white girls being interviewed about the election and there isn't any other diversity, teach her to speak up. Teach her to say, "How can you get varied opinions if you don't interview girls who aren't white?"
If she's conducting a school drive for hygiene products to pass out to low-income women and children, teach her to recognize when there's no product available for women of color in her pile. Teach her to speak up and remind her classmates, her teachers, and the world that white women aren't the only ones out there. Teach her to notice.
6. Teach Her That It's Not Racist For Women Of Color To Have Their Own Space
You guys, this is huge. Have you ever heard someone say, "BET is so racist. What if there was White Entertainment Television?" Have you ever noticed how fragile white men's egos are, so much so that they mocked the women's marches because they felt it was "sexist"? Yeah, if you don't teach your daughter that it's more than OK for women of color or transgender women or non-white, non-cisgender women to have their own space, she'll sound as ridiculous as those people. Just like women need their own platform to make their voices heard, women of color or non-cisgender women need the same. It's not racist or prejudice or discriminatory — not all women want white women speaking for them. They deserve to be heard, too, and on their own terms.
7. Teach Her About The Stereotypes Other Women Face
When a white woman says she's a feminist, she's applauded for standing up for herself, but when a black woman says she's a feminist, she's called angry, loud, and a b*tch. Don't let this kind of stereotype become part of your daughter's vernacular. Teach her about the stereotypes other women face. How Asian women are seen as submissive, how black women are seen as angry, and how Hispanic women are seen as a lower soci-economic class. She can't do the work of feminism if she doesn't know what she's working against.