By now, if you've been reading our articles (or simply catching up with the news), you should know the meaning of feminism. If not, then here's a quick breakdown: Sounds simple, right?
It's amazing to see how much the world has progressed from before when it comes to its treatment of women. We've certainly come a long way from not being able to vote, own property, or speak up for our rights. Furthermore, we've also improved when it comes to being discriminatory to ourselves, as we now embrace being comfortable in our own skin, instead of conforming to society's sexist beauty standards.
Recently, however, a disturbing new trend has come to light. Dubbed as "white feminism," it pertains to only fighting for the rights of Caucasian—or simply, fair-skinned—women. This means standing up for the gender rights of white females, but turning a blind eye to those of people of color.
What makes white feminism so dangerous is that you usually don't know whether you have a racist mindset or not.
Due to popular culture, racism has been so deeply ingrained within our minds that we often fail to realize our internal discrimination. Much like how many Filipinos have colonial mentality, despite being Asians themselves, several Filipinas are quick to praise girls with fairer skin, but lose no time in body-shaming and culture-shaming morenas.
One such example would be Miss Universe Philippines 2010 Venus Raj. Filipinos are known for their support for all things Pinoy, especially when it comes to beauty pageants. However, they balked at supporting Venus Raj, with many netizens complaining about her dark skin. Thankfully, the model has used her influence to get many darker-skinned Pinays to embrace their natural skin color—all while graduating with a Master's Degree from the University of the Philippines (UP) just recently, proving that beauty and brains can exist at the same time.
Yet another Filipina beauty queen who has faced backlash over her skin color would be Miss Universe Philippines 2011 Shamcey Supsup. Luckily, Shamcey is another proud morena who embraces her skin color and encourages other Pinays to do the same. Like Venus, Shamcey is also a living example of beauty and brains coexisting, as she topped the UP Licensure Exam for Architecture, and even graduating magna cum laude.
If judging morenas and refusing to stand up for them due to the color of their skin is a local problem for white feminism, then complacency for women's rights is an international one.
It's no secret that sexism, despite all the leaps and bounds it's made, is still alive and well in society. Unfortunately, many white women do not realize this, as they are not affected.
The thing that all women should realize is that just because they have never experienced sexism, it doesn't mean that gender discrimination is gone for good. Several women are still denied fair pay, domestically abused, and raped on a daily basis. Sometimes white women are spared the sexism due to the color of their skin, failing to understand that women of color do not get the same treatment.
Another disturbing example of white feminism is speaking up against religious practices for women. Many have cited that the Muslim practice of donning hijabs, burqas, and niqabs are oppressive towards women. Muslim women have spoken up on this, defending their religion as a display of their rich culture. It's only further proof that we often mistake our Islamophobia for feminism, especially when it comes to different races.
Finally, white feminism was most prevalent in the Women's March in Washington last January. Unlike the marches for black women's rights in the past, the recent Women's March is the first to have many white women participate—and they only did so because finally, they were affected, too.
To avoid accidentally practicing white feminism, we need to reflect upon ourselves and our current situation. We need to be reminded that not every girl out there is as blessed as us when it comes to society's treatment. It is only when we fully stand up for other women, regardless of skin color, that we can begin to practice the meaning of true feminism: equality, for all women, regardless of race. #GirlPower
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