White feminism: Explained

There are many women who consider themselves “feminists”. But feminism and sexism affect different types of women in all different ways. For example, women of color and White women experience sexism way differently.

“White feminism” refers to when feminism is seen and projected through the eyes and experiences of White women, and describes White women who claim to be feminists but don’t acknowledge sexism from the lens of women of color. These “White feminists” approach feminism from a White woman’s point of view, and fail to acknowledge how other women experience sexism and other types of discrimination.

The bottom line is: if you are going to call yourself a feminist, you need to address the forms of discrimination that affect women of color, and stand up for ALL women, not just White women.

Many White women who engage in White feminism also enjoy playing the victim and do not recognize their White privilege. They act as if they are so powerless and discriminated against by men in society because they are a women. While that may be true when looking at the White ethnicity in particular, there are other women who experience many more forms of discrimination, and when you look at feminism through an intersectional lens (see below), you can see that White women receive much less discrimination when compared to women of color.

Intersectional feminism, a term coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, describes a more inclusive experience of feminism, discussing the ways that sexism affects women of color, along with the added systemic racism that affects people of color as well.

We should all aim to be intersectional feminists because White feminism is toxic and regressive to human rights causes as a whole. Black women who are LGBTQ experience discrimination differently than White LGBTQ women because they also face racism.

It is essential to pay attention and acknowledge the levels of discrimination that ALL women face in society because sexism is not the only form of discrimination. Unfortunately, there are many more. The more we fail to recognize and call attention to them, the longer these forms of discrimination will exist.

Signs you have a racial fetish

Let me start by explaining what exactly is a racial fetish, as it is not often talked about.

A racial fetish is the sexual fetishization of someone based on physical characteristics pertaining to their race, stereotypes, and/or cultural attributes.

I will name some concrete examples to further your understanding of this very real concept.

  • The Latina girl as spicy, fiery, exotic
  • The White girl as the “Snow Bunny”
  • The Black girl as sassy, gangster
  • The Asian girl as innocent, dainty, foreign

When you reduce human beings to characteristics, often stereotypical of their race, ethnicity, or culture, you’re objectifying them to fulfill your own personal wishes and expectations for how they should look and/or behave. 

You’re expecting something of them before you even get to know who they are.

There’s a fine line between thinking someone is attractive as an individual and lusting after someone for their skin color and the attributes you assume come with it.

Here are some primary differences between having a racial fetish and simply appreciating someone’s race/culture (but that not being the primary source of attraction for you).

Signs you do have a racial fetish

  • You are attracted to someone primarily because of their skin color/culture/language
  • You find yourself attracted to a certain type of person based on stereotypes in society…(such as, Latinas being “chula” and “exotic”)
  • The type of porn you watch is limited to “interracial”, “white girls”, “latina”, “black girls”, “indian girls”, “asian girls” etc.

Signs you don’t have a racial fetish

  • You find the person attractive, but their skin color/culture is not the reason for your attraction
  • You did not initially find interest in this person based on stereotypes/their race/their culture
  • You prefer a person of a certain ethnicity based on your own cultural customs, not based on your attraction to their race or culture.