International Women’s Day 2022: A Message on Supporting All Women
By: Ashley Eller, LPC
International Women’s Day has no meaning if we are not fighting for all women. Black women. Brown women. Indigenous women. Queer women. Transgender women. Disabled women. Immigrant women. Women living underneath the poverty line. All women.
On International Women’s Day 2022, I am reaching out to all white feminists seeking to celebrate today and asking you to listen to a conversation that will make you feel vulnerable. I, a white feminist, am asking you to open your ears to conversations about how your privilege is sapping equality from the movement; I am asking you to accept the fact that you are – right this moment – benefitting from others pain; I am asking you to walk away from this with the drive to listen to these conversations from someone who doesn’t look like us. From someone who’s words are the rightful owners of this topic. Someone black or brown, someone indigenous, someone transgender.
When reading this post, open yourself to receiving criticism, to facing some personal fears, and identifying how deeply rooted our identities are in maintaining the current patriarchal societal standards. This includes the institutions that we have built long ago and continue to participate in on a daily basis. The development and amending of our government. The news cycle. The economic structure and distribution of wealth. The justice system. The healthcare system. The societal norms we hold each other accountable by.
We are only 67 days into this year and 4 BIPOC trans women have lost their lives to violence. How many of our regional and national news stations are reporting their names? The Human Rights Campaign reported that 2021 had the highest recorded number of violent deaths against transgender individuals than any year prior, (Powell, 2021). This does not begin to broach the number of unreported violent and fatal incidents that BIPOC trans women experience every day around the world. Here we see a familiar intertwining of the powerful influence from the news and the efficacy of the justice system, which has had a storied and bloodied history with non-white communities.
Many conversations exist within the feminist community surrounding the power of the white men, however these conversations need to shift towards the political power white women hold. The rage of white women has an extremely valuable role in maintaining the patriarchal society we all claim to hate. Within the second wave of feminism, gaining true force after Fordism in the 1950s, white women directly benefited from maintaining the status quo, (NWHM, 2020). Their children could go on to live happy lives due to their association with a white man, those children’s father’s. White women feel implicitly threatened by the idea of tearing down the societal structures that are currently in place, because it directly threatens the privilege and protection their children currently hold, and sometimes more importantly, the privilege and protection they hold. At its core: equality would be harder.
In an individualistic society that is supported by the majority (white people), white women wish to dominate the world like men. Many of these women struggle to see how their privileged skin color prevents them from connecting deeper to their marginalized identity of woman. At its root, feminism seeks equality. equality means re-examining and dismantling ALL of our current systems, including those that lift us into our privilege.
It truly goes beyond a white woman crying to the police after falsely accusing a BIPOC woman of a crime or a trans woman being refused necessary medical care from her local gynecologist. We return to the power of a white woman’s rage, her privilege, her values. These conversations connect more directly to voter registration numbers, lack of representation, religious colonization, and the institutions that continue to maintain the status quo. True societal justice encompasses political, economic, racial, and social justice. This means it is our turn to step back, teach ourselves, listen, check our egos, and face our ultimate fears.
For those white women reading this article that connected to a different part of your feminism, I encourage you to continue your education. Do not make it the responsibility of other women to teach you. Seek your own knowledge and remind yourself that you do not need to own every space. Close your mouth when a black, brown, or indigenous woman is speaking and listen to what they are saying. Do not tell someone they cannot call themselves ‘woman’ because of their sex assigned at birth.
Let us use our privilege to truly dismantle a system we claim to hate and lift up those women who are fighting for their lives in a space within the cause they worked so hard to create.
Below are several links that Ashley has found to continue the facilitation of this conversation. These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Inner Courage Counseling of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. Inner Courage Counseling bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
- Global Citizen is a group seeking to engage citizens to end extreme poverty by 2030. They have put together a list of racial equity organizations run by women of color around the world.
- There are many community-driven sites, linked here that provide a vast amount of resources for young black trans and queer women. These community based organizations and collectives raise awareness, spread education, and address a wide variety of topics that are influential to queer and trans women of color including HIV/AIDS, medical care, homelessness, poverty, and legal support.
- Disorient is a blog and resource haven run by Dr. Helena Liu. She has curated an Intersectional Feminist Reading Challenge with a breakdown for books that fit three tiers to include fiction as well as books based on knowledge of the topic.
- Do you know of a group within our community that aligns with this conversation? Please reply to this post with their website information so we can spread the word!
- National Women’s History Museum. (2020, June 18). Feminism: The second wave. https://www.womenshistory.org/exhibits/feminism-second-wave
- Powell, L. (2021, November 9). 2021 becomes deadliest year on record for transgender and non-binary people. Human Rights Campaign. https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/2021-becomes-deadliest-year-on-record-for-transgender-and-non-binary-people