Posted on | July 8, 2011 | 57 Comments
A while ago, someone sent an email asking why did I not write about white women.
That was funny.
The Proper Focus
At the top of this blog, the stated purpose of this site is to acknowledge the awesomeness of BLACK women. I’ve been accused of being a white man at times (tee hee hee), but I write to promote our self-love.* We get beat down more than other groups or otherwise ignored in the general course of things, unless it is reinforcing a stereotype.
As an ignored group which occasionally receives negative attention, I figure, Why not spend some time on issues that directly or indirectly affect us?
There Is No There There
I don’t write about white women, in general, for this sole reason: they are ubiquitous. They are everywhere, all the time. So much so that the writer of the email was a white woman mistakenly wondering why I wasn’t focusing on her group.
After I stopped laughing, I wrote back. We exchanged a few emails. She meant well. This was a nice woman who didn’t really understand what the focus of my blog was. She was coming from a white feminist perspective, which is that everything that happens to black women comes through the prism of white women.
In her mind, our lives will always include them, sometimes as the center of attention. Yet in their lives, we are on the periphery as predictable parochial characters. Sorta like every show you see on TV today. Black shows require a white woman. White women shows have a black sidekick or she doesn’t exist except as part of the scenery in the background.
What Does Irk – The Irksomeness
There are, however, some issues, that come to mind about white women:
- Weak Woman Whining: Complaining about being treated as weak women is what I call the femininity gripe. Oh boy, what a wonderful problem to have! Imagine being regarded as a strong like-a-man creature all the time, where no one thinks you are delicate, have feelings, or sensitive? You know, like all other women are? Unfortunately, a lot of black women embrace this othering. White women may want to be strong and manly, and beg to be treated “equally”, but black women want to be seen as feminine, because this whole like-a-man business doesn’t yield “equality” at all. It works as a negation of our womanhood: Hallmark is selling Father’s Day cards aimed at us.
- The Only Woman Self-Delusion: It is irksome expecting us to listen to your problems without reciprocity. When black women launched a movement called No Wedding No Womb (NWNW), white feminists crawled out of the woodwork needing to bandwagon onto the topic, and make it about them. I have never seen so much depraved, immoral preening, and navel gazing. This could not be about black women’s empowerment. Nope. Obviously, somebody had made a mistake: it needed to be about white women, or it wasn’t a valid cause. Sometimes it’s not all about white women, there are issues just about black women. What became clear to me is that if they are not the center of attention, it’s not considered a valid “woman’s issue.” Uhuh.
- Gone With The Flatulent Wind: We’re not at work to be your chambermaid, personal servant, attack dog, or therapist. White women love complaining about male exploitation (same work less pay, harassment, etc), but what about what’s being done to the black women in the office by them? I acknowledge that other people can be just as trifling to black women. I accept and believe that there is a much bigger social benefit to be gained knowing and associating with white women than with other groups, but it’s up to black and white women to re-create balance to normalize and stabilize this relationship.
- Media Stalking – It Is All About You: Some black women do express some frustration when the news media focuses on a white woman to the exclusion of all else. There is a massively overwhelming amount of resources spent on their disappearances, run-away bride stories, trials, reality TV shows, and all manner of attention on these individuals, because she fits the “pretty white woman” profile. All other groups fall by the wayside.
- It’s Not Jealousy – It’s Irritation: Black women benefit when white women benefit. For those of us who have a good understanding of feminism, and the important leading role black women have historically played in it, we understand that it is win-win. We just don’t appreciate when things get whitewashed to remove the first black woman, which is a woman making history too!, when a white woman comes along and finally makes the same record. Then it becomes – the first woman to blah blah blah – when a black woman has already made this distinction. That’s the perniciousness of racism and sexism. So when white women act as if they are the sole victims of sexism, that is irritation at work, not jealousy.
The Casey Anthony Show
I didn’t follow the trial. I originally thought Casey was a guy, and the woman shown in the picture for the news story was his victim. (That’s what I get for skim reading.) The case made me vaguely remember a rash of disappearing / missing children in Florida a few years back, and her kid was one of those stories.
I have two observations that I haven’t read or heard mentioned. 1) Casey Anthony would be in jail if she was charged with manslaughter or murder in the 2nd degree (?). 2) No one on that jury was going to put a “pretty white woman” on death row.
This mistake by the prosecutor reminded me of the OJ trial. (Yeah. Oh boy, here we go.) Marsha Clark thought that all the black women on the jury would identify with the white woman, Nicole Brown, as opposed to O.J. That’s an example of white women being blind to the racial and sexual dynamics of black women. They assume we identify more with them as opposed to that of black men, and many assume we live or die for black men (well maybe a large number do, but not all).
However, those assumptions are wrong, because our reality is completely different from black men and white women. Not every situation where we are concerned will yield an easy checklist of answers, because of our sex or race. People continue to make mistakes in understanding black women due to those assumptions. Sometimes it will be true, more often than not, folks will get tripped up by it.
What Does That Have To Do With White Women?
Nothing at all. That’s why I don’t write about them. 🙂
However, it is up to us, as black women to help people understand our distinctive selves.