What I’m Learning About White Feminism and Worth

Christine Baird

Christine Baird

Fair skin, graying hair, and lots to think about

I learned some powerful perspectives this week about white feminism, capitalism, privilege, and my responsibility as an entrepreneur. I hadn’t thought in depth about these topics in this way, and it’s stayed with me. Worthfullness is entwined with these issues, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

In short, a popular white female influencer we’ll call Rachel posted a video last week in which she referred to her housekeeper in a derogatory way while defending her privilege of having a housekeeper. After a bunch of backlash, misunderstanding, and PR apologies, there was quite a conversation happening on social media about how she could have done better. I listened to a couple of longer form discussions from leaders that I respect about the underlying issues of what happened. Everyone messes up and is subject to being blind to their own privilege. The teaching moment was invaluable, however, for someone like me.

Austin Channing Brown, the author, in particular said something that really struck me. On her IG Live she said, “White feminism can help itself without helping anyone else.” As a white woman who has lived in privilege my whole life, I know this is true. I can get ahead in ways other women can’t because there’s so much support for white feminism in my lifetime. White women celebrated as CEO’s, founders, leaders, influencers, moms, educators, etc. White women patting each other on the back for reaching our preferred flavor of success. Living in bubbles of women who look and work and live and talk like us. Being rewarded for fitting a mold that has become socially acceptable in today’s world.

But none of that helps women of color. I really believe that. It just draws another dividing line between people of color and white people and what is considered “progressive.” White feminism, which I’m sure at this point is a mega-million dollar industry, feeds into our capitalist narrative of hustle, work hard, work smart, and it’s yours. If you’re poor or struggling or stuck, it’s your bad. Try harder. Buy this product/training/coach and you’ll get there.

I’ve struggled with all of these thoughts, so it struck me that the intersection of capitalism and white feminism is a vortex I’ve been sucked into often enough. But it’s not what I want to support or contribute to. Worthfull living exists on a higher plane. In the world of capitalism and racism but not of those worlds. It lifts everyone up, sees everyone’s worth. It celebrates whatever contribution someone is making. It honors their unique journey. It gives space for them to learn on their own time and in their own way.

I still have lots to learn and implement in how I work and support and exist as a white woman of influence during this time. I know worth is a north star that always shows me the truth. And I’m grateful for leaders who are showing us the way to a better kind of feminism.

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