It’s already happening. Patricia Arquette is being called out on her (frankly) idiotic statement on pay equality backstage at the Oscars. Her onstage speech was fine. It left some things to be desired, but overall a decent message. I supported her in it because [spoiler alert] I’m a woman and I want all the coins that I have earned. But it’s her words backstage that caused a fuss. In case you missed it:
“It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”
[the deepest exhale that has ever been exhaled]
These words are the reason her activism was a #fail before it had a chance to be great. Problematic in so many ways. There isn’t much more I can add than what Awesomely Luvvie and VSB have already given you all, but I decided to provide you with three quick points.
1. A Lesson on Intersectionality.
What she leaves out or forgets is that there are people of color and members of the LGBT community that are in fact…. women. Forgetting that is an ultimate fail. What about the Black Lesbians? What about the Transgender Latinas? How dare you call for marginalized groups to basically drop their causes to “support” White women in your quest for equality? Did it ever occur to you that we have BEEN in this fight for pay equality, AND have numerous other hurdles to jump before we can even reap the benefits of it? Have you acknowledged that much of the weight in gender pay inequality is carried by women of color?
The last 2 points are precisely why white feminists have trouble getting women of color to fully engage in “their” movement. And those points are the reason Bell Hooks had to write “Feminism is for Everybody.” And they’re the reason there’s a Womanist movement… when it really matters you all forget about everyone else. Which brings me to my next point….
2. “And it’s time for all […] that we’ve all fought for….”
Actually, let me stop you right here. EXCUSE ME? HAVE YOU FOUGHT FOR US? I mean have you REALLY fought for us? Because I don’t recall hearing your stance on Black girls and women who experience discrimination in schools and in the workplace – respectively – for wearing their hair the way it naturally grows from our heads. Where are you on the fact that Black girls face harsher punishments in schools than their White counterparts for similar offenses?
Ahh…. Those are too deep in the race bucket… I see you getting uncomfortable….
Okay, how about last year during the celebrity photo hacking scandal?? You all jumped fiercely to defend Jennifer Lawrence, but Jill Scott got crickets. If someone dares to speak ill of Lena Dunham you all call out the cavalry, but won’t get out of bed to defend Beyonce. (Author’s Note: Don’t get used to me defending Beyonce. That is all.) Also, there are 29 states where one can legally be fired for being gay. There are also 34 states where once can legally be fired for being transsexual.
Do you see that? All of your self-appointed ally points quickly slipping away? So tell me again how hard you’ve fought for everyone else? *waits*
3. “….to fight for us now.”
This last one is very important and it’s a point that I haven’t really seen expressed elsewhere so please pay attention….
WE (marginalized groups) DON’T OWE YOU S#!&.
Let me explain something. The fight/battle/war for civil rights and equal treatment is not quid pro quo. You don’t get involved in it because you’re hoping to build some army that will show up when called to duty. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. If you have signed up as an ally for a cause for any reason other than that you believe in equality – please exit at the next stop, because we don’t need you. Bye.
Also, you say this as if the fight is over. As if other marginalized groups have achieved complete equality on the backs of your hard work and now have the social and/or political capital to level the injustices you still face. There is a stadium full of seats that I invite you to have.
So over the next few days when you see tweets and articles and blog posts and you’re wondering what the big deal is…. now you know. Do all women benefit from the advances in the feminist movement? Absolutely, but it looks different for all of us. So while middle-class White women are complaining about being 2nd class citizens, it would serve you well to remember that some of us are 3rd (race), 4th (sexual orientation and/or identity), 5th (socioeconomic), 6th (immigration status), 7th (religious affiliation – especially Muslim), or even 8th (any combination of numbers 2-7) class citizens. And you all forgot about us – some of your own – in your rallying cry.