Sunday, August 23, 2009

What If Black Women Were White Women?

"If" Black Women Were White Women
August 23, 2009

In “If Men Could Menstruate,” Gloria Steinem makes the persuasive argument that “Whatever a ‘superior’ group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever an ‘inferior’ group has will be used to justify its plight.”

For too long the definition of racism has been a fight between white and black manhood or “who’s the bigger man”, so to speak. We've trivialized the existence of gender between both groups of men in favor for discussion of the "bigger issue".

This has historically enabled white female supremacy—the most unchallenged form of white supremacy—to escape any critical thought.

What if suddenly, instantly, the power of white femininity were transferred to black women?

The answer is clear: Black women would represent value, purity; and based on their natural traits would be worthy of protection and instantly become the objects of universal desire. White women would represent the opposite.

“Beauty tar potion” would become globally popular to get the “black look.” “Dove” would be replaced with a black soap called “Raven” to help exfoliate the skin and bring out subtle hints of melanin.

White female features would be declared violent. Their “jagged” thin lips, “knife sharp” noses, and “harsh” jaw lines would be nature's way of expressing why men have a natural preference for the soft features of black women. Soft lips, soft cheekbones, and soft, round noses would be proof of natural femininity. Full, pink lips and large, dark eyes would become associated with virginal black girls whose purity must not be compromised. Black female features would thus be said to represent youth.

Straight, blond hair would be considered “wild and unruly” because when the wind blew, it did not stay in place. Women with naturally straight hair would hide their “unruly” and “wild” stick-straight hair in public. The desire for “lightweight hair” that defied gravity would permanently end the use of blow dryers. Keeping one's natural blond hair wild and straight would become indicative of a political statement.

The anti-aging properties of black female skin combined with soft, curvy bodies would be proof of the overall reproductive health of black women. Scientists would argue that black women were naturally preferred as long term mates and mothers because they were “healthier.” Men’s attraction to women is based on overall health and fertility, after all.

Suddenly, biracial women would be “in” because the hard features of white women wouldn't prevent the fragile genes of “black beauty” from peeking through. Men would suddenly have the desire to date “ethnic,” non-black women since they would look “closer to black” than blond women—at least they wouldn't look like white women.

Statistics would equate the fact that white women make up the majority with their “overpowering” and “strong” population. This would be proof that they could handle unsafe neighborhoods. The “strong culture” they would have created amongst themselves would enable them to withstand their lack of protection from predators and criminals. Statisticians would argue that men were attracted to black women innately because they made up a small percentage of the population. “We tend to value what is rare,” they might say.

Men would proclaim that white women deserve sexual objectification because “flat buttocks” allow for deeper penetration. In ghettos across America, men would stand on street corners and yell “Damn! You got a flat ass!” to remind white women of their sexual status in society.

Upper class women would be afraid that their “asses looked flat” since it would represent animalistic and sexual deviance, like white women. Black women’s buttocks, said to protrude farther from the body, would prove that their natural vulnerability made them “less equipped” to handle hardcore sex and rape like white women could.

“I need a strong white woman!” would become a popular “empowering” slogan for exploitative men who rationalized the emotional, financial, and sexual overburdening of white women.

Overweight white nannies would become the “acceptable white women” in popular culture as they do not pose a threat to black female superiority and privilege. Conventionally attractive white women would serve as a sexual threat to black women for single-handedly breaking down the beauty hierarchy.

Hip hop videos would feature men throwing money at “white bitches” bent over in front of the camera to showcase their white asses, eager for deep penetration. Entire songs would be devoted to hatred of “white gold digging bitches” who believed that they were entitled to the financial security in marriage to which black women were entitled. “Penetrable white asses” and “pale-faced hoes” would become the cash commodity for selling entire musical genres.

White women’s “hard” bodies would be deemed more “capable” of fighting off sexual attackers, while the soft curves of black female bodies would become worthy of police protection. White women, despite being at high risk of being victimized by violence and sexual crimes, would not “need” police protection.

Movies would feature black women as the main objects of men’s desire across racial lines while stereotypes of evil, bitter, and oversexed white women would further prove why men of all races simply did not prefer blonds. “We can’t help those to whom we're attracted,” men would say. “Preference” would become an unconcealed acceptance of discrimination against white women. White women’s anger towards and sadness about the status quo would show their unreasonable jealousy of the innate superiority of black women.

Republicans would ban abortions to protect the virtue of pure, black motherhood and liberals would advocate increasing the number of abortion clinics in “low income” neighborhoods where white women would be the majority. Liberals would claim that white women had “culturally” approved of sexual objectification and were “safe enough” without outside help since they were warned not to touch “in-group issues” with a ten foot pole.

And so on and so forth.

The most important reality is that black feminists would eventually grow tired of being seen as innocent and vulnerable in patriarchy and would fight to erase the commodity of black femininity. “The innocent, submissive, and vulnerable representation of women is what puts us in danger. The rigid category of femininity has contributed to our oppression,” they might argue.

In the back of every black feminist movement we would hear the quiet and dignified pleas of radical white feminists. “But, we do not represent femininity. We are considered strong, incapable of feeling pain, and sexually deviant—but all this has done is increase our likelihood of being in danger. And aren’t we women too?”

As Gloria Steinem wrote, “In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.”

What remains universally evident is that the many justifications for power and privilege are always inherent, always scientific, and always permeate society to the point that they remain deeply buried within our collective consciousness.

Until someone challenges them.

© 2009 Alienati0n

Edited by Kara Feldman.


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Beauty Is Diverse said...

great great article.

Ion said...

Thanks Tiff, feel free to pass it around for discussion and give your thoughts on anything that needs to be included or taken out.

Mary said...

wow, is all i can say, I don't even know what to say and i usually do, it's just that it demonstrates how ridiculous our position, black women's positions' are in america. from birth, we automatically are saddled with so much baggage, baggage that stems from being the women of conquered men, it sucks!! it really does, i don't feel any less of a woman than white women, and it hurts to see them, especially the ones that you look so much better than (lol), it hurts to see them get more attention just because they're white, it sucks, it really does. but again, it comes with the territory of being the women of conquered men, all i can say sucks.

Tulip said...

Genius did an excellent job on that.

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT! Publish it my sista, DON'T hesitate!

Anonymous said...

That was awesome!

Melody said...

That was excellent. Wow. I'm speechless.

Good job.

Ion said...

THANK YOU! SO so so much ladies for the positive feedback!! Most of the responses I recieved were on another site, however, I always appreciate the feedback whether positive or criticism. Thanks so much for stoping by! And feel FREE by all means to show it to others and spread it around!

Thanks again :-) Most of you seem to be familiar faces I see around other sites, and that makes me very happy :-)


Veronica Marché said...

I'm new here, but this. Is. AWESOME.

I just sent the link to a bunch a friends. This is absolutely incredible.


Taylor-Sara said...

Girl-that was AMAZING!!! I don't even have words. It was just awe-inspiring and so very very accurate. That is exactly how it would be if the shoe was on the other foot. If you have ever heard of a study called the blue-eyed experiment. It involved a 4th grade teacher in the 60s who conducted an experiment on racism. She was white as was her class. Anyway, one day she tells her class that science has determined that ppl with blue eyes are socially, morally, and intellectually inferior. She then backs it up with fake data, and pictures. She tells them this every day for a week, and then watches the results. After a few days, she notices that brown eyed students are taking the lead, in everything and treating the blue eyed children worse and worse. She begins to hear blue eyed children make remarks such as: " I wish my eyes were beautiful and brown like yours!" or "How come God gave me blue eyes- I didn't do anything wrong!" Soon the 'brown eyes' were banning the 'blues' from games, activities and even forcing them to eat apart from them. Fights broke out when 'browns' called the blues out on their inferiority, and many 'blues' found themselves in deep depressions. It was only then that she ended the experiment, and told the children she had made it up and that no one was superior to another, but that this is how AA children are made to feel, and that the 'proof' used to make them feel this way is often pulled from air... Absolutely amazing post girl.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Hopefully, this will contribute to many "Ah ha!" moments. Brilliant, just brilliant.

valedeoro said...

Great article. Just one style opinion to make it stronger: change the "would..." for present tense.
> “Beauty tar potion” are now globally popular to get the “black look”. “Dove” has been replaced by now with a black soap called “Raven” to help exfoliate the skin and bring out subtle hints of melanin...<

Other than that: GREAT JOB!

Jessica said...

You absolutely highlight how arbitrary societal beauty standards are. Great job.

Ms Plug It said...

Well written! I am sending this link to friends also!

erin said...

Omg! Damn! So, so good. Thanks for writing something so brilliant and challenging. Can't wait til it's published and has to be dealt with by people who love upholding the status quo... Just cuz I love reading the words of assholes whining cuz they really have no case to make against something so brilliant. Thanks again!

Lianne said...

Really hard hitting article. Very powerful! One teensy bit of constructive criticism that I hope will add even more credibility to the piece: apostrophes don't pluralize words, like "pale faced hoe's." It'd just be "hoes."

Thanks for this!

Dd said...

Beautifully written!

Anonymous said...

When you mention 'white female supremacy', I interpret that as implying that white females like to conform to, and actually agree with, these ridiculous and repressive beauty practices and all the implications they have.
I understand that these beauty ideals and examples you mentioned only perpetuate the idea that white women are superior. But white women are not exclusively responsible for the way things are.
It's not as straightforward as this article suggests. I really think this situation is hurting all women.
And as an aside, how do you feel about fake tan being marketed to white women, and why it's so popular?
I'm not trying to cause trouble here. I'm genuinely interested.

Anonymous said...

AMAZING! I thoroughly enjoyed this!

Anonymous said...

This was really fantastic. It should/could be published.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Awesome piece. Great work.

Straight blond hair would be considered “wild and unruly” because when the wind blows, it does not stay in place. Women with natural straight hair would hide their “unruly” and “wild” stick-straight hair in public. The desire for “Lightweight hair” that defies gravity would permanently end the use of blow dryers. Keeping ones natural blond hair wild and straight would become indicative of a political statement.

Hmm. I have to say, I'd rephrase this. As an older white women, I get considerable grief over my hair. White older women are expected to have short, styled "old lady" hair, and as a matter of fact, I DO keep mine long (and flyaway, that part is utterly true) as a political statement. Older Asian and Latina women are (culturally) allowed to have long hair, but notice when they aspire to 'professional' status and assimilate here in the USA, they usually cut it also.

A bit skewed towards youth, otherwise good. :)

Anonymous said...

i LOVE articles like this. amazing job!

the only thing i would change is you seem to have a lot of unnecessary and grammatically incorrect possessives, for example "hoe's" and "ghetto's." just lose the apostrophes. :)

really insightful.

saraeanderson said...

First of all, I'd like to say I enjoyed this and it really gave me food for thought - lots of stuff I hadn't noticed in dominant (white) beauty culture, surely due to my white privilege. I started out feeling a little defensive, but by the end I think you caught me up in the spirit. Thanks for a fantastic reading experience!

Ozzie said...

First time reading here, was linked to this article from Feministing. This article rocks!

Maggie said...

I've never been here before (came here off feministing), but this is a great article. It provides a lot of insight for those of us who benefit from white privilege. I love the role reversal technique! It's very powerful.

And Anonymous, at no point did I think this article was "blaming" white women for their social supremacy, and I fail to see how an article like this, which brings up real, systemic social oppression of black women, "hurts all women." Please don't derail the conversation by acting like this article is attacking ANYTHING but our screwed-up, power imbalanced society. This is akin to any feminist article about the patriarchy getting attacked by men who claim "But it's not my fault the patriarchy exists!" We need to see our society for what it is, realize that we're all a part of it (whether or not we intended to be), and try to chip in to help fight all forms of oppression. Articles like this give us broader insight into oppression some of us may be privileged enough to not suffer from.

Alienated, I look forward to your future work.

Erynn said...

This is a fascinating article. Thank you. I appreciate very much having a look at some of my own unexamined privilege.

Unknown said...

really insightful. since you asked for comments: i would suggest you clarify that you're suggesting an alternative reality in which not only the physical characteristics of black women have been held to have the same cultural trademarks of beauty possessed by white women, but also the concomitant swaps in access to power and wealth have taken place as well. also, perhaps you could make it clear(er) that black men and white men did not successfully execute this swap, and that black women, in your essay, would be objectified by BOTH black and white men in the same way that they are now. otherwise, EXCELLENT!!

mskphillip said...

Brilliant! I don't think that we as Black women realize how deeply embedded some of the perceptions about ourselves and white women are. So many times, it seems to be mere common sense; in fact we sometimes take pride in it. for e.g. the fact that we are seen as the exotic, and lusted after woman- from the times of slavery, the white slavemaster yearned after what he couldn't have. and even today, i have never dated a white man because I can't decipher between him genuinely wanting to be with me versus his obsession with the 'unknown'. We revel in the fact that we are lusted after which I would argue does not always have to be a bad thing but the question is....where is this mentality coming from?

Brilliant article- go ahead and publish and don't let anyone make you feel as though it needs to be censored in anyway. As you so rightly said at the end, "And what remains universally evident is that the many justifications for power and privilege are always inherent, always scientific, and always permeate society to the point that they remain deeply buried within our collective consciousness.

Until someone challenges them. "

Unknown said...

(Here via Feministing.)

This is fantastically eye-opening - thank you for so thoroughly illustrating the way whitness is privileged in cultural notions of femininity.

As a white woman, I'm currently feeling humbled by your revelation of how all-encompassing my privilege is. Down to the very adjectives we use to describe women. Holy crap.

Emmie said...

Well done-- but what do you make of tanning lotion and lip plumpers/lip collagen injections? Getting tan and making your lips bigger are pretty universally desired traits, aren't they? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

wow, this article blew my mind. as a white woman, i guess i never saw how privledged i really am. thank you for this article

Anonymous said...

So. Damn. Good.

Anonymous said...

Also came here from feministing.. I have to say, this is the greatest, most thought provoking thing I've read on the internet for a long time. I know I will be thinking about this for weeks.

The Cooking Cleric said...

We didn't create these stupid beauty norms. Most of us do have a great psychological need to be cherished and loved by our male counterparts, so therefore we naturally wish to make ourselves attractive. Some rich white bastards somewhere set these damn standards, not just to satisfy their own desires... and I emphasize the word *rich* here, because only the top-earners in the white male world control anything... but also to keep us insecure. If we are horribly insecure about being women, and follow our societal conditioning that all things feminine are somehow weaker and inferior to the male, then how can we even begin to behave as equals? Unless we can free our minds of this indoctrination and psychological slavery, unless we are willing to challenge these norms with our ver beings, how can we ask for equality? We must be the catalyst for change. This oppression of women exists because we continue to buy the damn beauty products we don't need, the new clothes we don't need, the hair treatments, the fake nails... and WE get blamed for these insecurities! It's "our" problem. So how do we change this, is the question... your article is fantastic, btw... but the real question is... how does the change occur? It starts with every one of us...
Don't buy sh*t you don't need. You are already pretty.
Don't put down other women for expressing themselves.
Don't sabotage other women... remember how there's a "brotherhood" of males, and they respect one another's space? Bros before hos and all that? If we do that with each other, instead of tearing one another down to get ahead, how much stronger would we be?
If women of all colors could see one another as sisters... how much farther would be we be in the fight for equality? If we could show the dominant male paradigm solidarity and numbers (hell, we already make up over half the population)... we could simply overwhelm them with our power, together, as women. They would be forced to treat us as equals.

The Cooking Cleric said...

another thought: these same privileged European men who flaunt the affluent Barbie image as the sexual ideal... how many of them through history have taken mistresses of color? It's not that we are not desirable, ladies... it's all about control, including dominant male control of other males.

As a multi-racial, light-skinned woman whose looks could best be described as Euro-Latin, I'd also like to point out that there are class divisions within white culture too. I've been shown most my life socially that as a woman who looks Latin, I am inferior to other white women who are "lighter." Blue eyes, blond hair, straight hair, smaller physical frame... they were always chosen over me.
I have been discriminated against by black men whose girlfriends conformed to hip-hop female culture norms of dress, because I don't choose to dress like a "white bitch" should.
It should be noted that men of all colors hold women to female beauty norms, whether they are "black" ones, "white" ones, "Asian" ones... and if you defy that in any way, you will be ridiculed by all of them.
If you choose to not wear a bra, if you choose to act in ways that are behaviorally considered "male", if you are overweight... regardless of whatever skin color you have, you are an outcast.

B said...

Thank you for this article. Quite eye-opening for this white female feminist -- looks like I need to educate myself further! This article is simply excellent.

Anonymous said...
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Dene said...

Great article! This is the type of thing you can know intellectually, but it's really different when you think of the practical implications.

Don't you see that ALL our features and traits be them perceived as desirable or not, are shackles?

Why assume she didn't see that? Her point was just to show how the same physical traits are described to show superiority of the dominant group, which in this case is white vs. black, not women vs. men.

It was only then that [the teacher in the brown-eyed experiment] ended the experiment, and told the children she had made it up and that no one was superior to another, but that this is how AA children are made to feel, and that the 'proof' used to make them feel this way is often pulled from air...

Actually, didn't she even tell them that straight up front? Even knowing what she was doing the kids were effected.

Stop hating on white women and look to your own men.

She didn't hate on any women in the article, nor did she blame any one race of men!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Lot of people here who don't get it.

Many things in your essay seem to echo the current stereotype of the sexualized woman of color rather than subvert it. This line, for instance: "Movies would feature black women as the main objects of men’s desire across racial lines." The woman of color is already portrayed as the main object of desire, but in an objectified, exoticized way. I think you could change some of your phrasing to indicate that black women are portrayed as the pure object of desire, the one you come home to rather than the wild other. Let me take a shot:
"Movies would feature black women as the woman men come home to, the wife and mother who can satisfy her man, while stereotypes of out of control, oversexed white women would further prove why men of all races simply did not prefer blondes.

Beaver said...

Wow. Someone linked you on LJ, and I don't regret clicking.

This is a great article (and a great counterpoint to the "white goddess theory".

Thank you for writing it.

Anonymous said...

This is excellent! It's a great illustration of how flimsily our beauty/power standards are held up. One thing I think I would clarify is the position of the men in the article--are white men or black men in power? Black women are obviously preferred across racial lines, but denoting the race of the powerful men would add to the article. (And it would clarify what color the flesh-toned band-aids were! That was one of the thing in McIntosh's article that has always stuck with me.)

Also: could you clarify the "ranking" of Latinas and Asian women in this new beauty hierarchy? Native Americans?

Another facet you could add is makeup and hairstyling advertising. Currently, black women have two or three shades to choose from: mocha, chocolate, or coffee. They go by different names, but the names usually consist of some type of food, with an occasional foray into "ebony", whereas makeup aimed at white people has a lot more variety (undertones, etc.) and the colors are usually some type of flower or fruit--a healthier, more natural type of food. How would this change, if black women were deemed "better" by the patriarchy? Same goes for hair products--would there be a special section at the end of the hair care aisle for "European hair"? How would white female politicians dress, style, and act, in relation to black female politicians?

Hope this helps, and I can't wait to see this in print!

Sandra said...

Great article. What amazes me, though, is to see how many comments here claim to be surprised by the revelations of white female privilege in your article, or get defensive at your perceived "attack" on white females (and white society), or want to rewrite your post in their own image. Your article is fantastic and explosive as it stands. Fabulous work.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a great article and it is very much the time for it! I have always hated hearing about the stereotypical black woman and the stereotypical white woman. It's time for all of us women to realize that we are all one and the same, the "mothers of the world." Without ALL strong females, there would be nothing, for we are the lifeblood of the universe.

The only change I would make is in the should read What If Black Women were White Women?

Great job

Marty said...

Wow. You have done an amazing job of illustrating how racism functions within feminist thought and how sexism and racism are interconnected. To me, this article articulates multicultural feminism in a language that is accessible to everyone, even folks that would prefer to be ignorant.

Marie 13 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

in response to reader questions about lip plumper and tan etc:

the standard of beauty is what separates rich people from poor people, in this culture and in any other. in the victorian era, pale skin indicated that a woman did not have to work outdoors and in the sun, and thus was considered beautiful. now, a tan indicates that a woman either has been able to spend the day by the pool instead of in the office, or has just returned from a vacation in a tropical locale, both of which are trademarks of privilege. see also: long, decorated fingernails, which indicate that the woman is not expected to perform manual labor on any sort of regular basis.

@marie13: all of our skin colors and races etc have an identity and baggage associated therewith. i don't think the author's intention was to claim that white women benefit from the privilege of beauty and thus have nothing else to worry about. i think her point, rather, was to highlight the extent to which beauty is so skewed in a white direction as to make it nearly impossible for a Black woman to conform with it.

Colleen said...

Thank you for making me check my privilege. I hope that this article becomes as well known and as widely distributed/taught as "If Men Could Menstruate"!!!

LC said...

Really good piece. I will agree with the people who noted to add an "if" in the title and to lose the misplaced apostrophes.

I wonder if flipping the bit about showing off the asses in videos wouldn't be better served by having that be about breasts instead - I think it might work better with the whole aspect wherein any characteristic gets re-categorized as good or bad depending on the status.

I think that's a minor quibble, though. Good piece.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great article and really instructive ( for me a white woman) on how black women have even more to be pissed off about.

It did however make me realise what it must feel like to be a man reading feminist literature. All the time I was reading it I was agreeing logically, but I instinctively felt defensive when I read phrases like "white female supremacy". Shit! I don't feel superior to anybody and I hate all that beauty myth.

Maybe it's different over here in the UK, because one of the media ideals we have is of the mixed race curly-haired beauty with dark eyes, and we have hordes of young women trying to look like Beyonce. Do you not have that in the US? It's still mixed race though I guess, and the only place that fully Afro-carribean females are strongly represented are in educational media (pictures of Black and Asian children eagerly learning - kind of patronising I think personally) and in the annoying stereotype of the sassy, fast-talking don't-mess-with-me fat black woman who ALWAYS is a secondary character in the movies. We also see rap videos from the US where black women are completely objectified by black men, and where "fat asses" are desirable, not at all like in the article. Oooh we even have strap-on bums now, to make your bum look bigger - seriously you don't have that in the US?

I agree with Anonymous the First though when she said that it hurts all of us. Because if you replace one ideal image of beauty with another you're still promoting the same restrictive beauty ideal, whether that's based on . And that does hurt us all eventually by dividing us and not focussing on the real culprit - capitalist marketing that just wants to make money.

PS. sorry if I've used any non-PC terms. Like I said, I'm from the UK and am not sure of right terms to use in US.

Ion said...

THANKS so much EVERYONE! For the overwhelmingly positive feedback and constructive criticism. This is quote a shock to me, I logged on and saw that this post. I am so glad each and everyone of you are here!

Caeli said...

This was so enjoyable and really well done. Thanks for the best and most thought-provoking moment of the week.

Ion said...

I'd like to first respond to one comment, and if anyone has any others that this answer doesn't sum up, please feel free to post another. I truly mean that :-)

"You have succeeded in convincing / confirming to at least those of your readers that have left comments, that black women are deemed less attractive than white women."

Dear Marie13 thank you for your comment! Allow me to respond in Part 1 and 2 comments. (

Whether or not you deem this piece as "Feminist", it is in my opinion a radical feminist perspective that challenges white racism on women of color.

I don't see many white "feminists" that you are referencing speaking in protest when men around the world are tripping over themselves to both value and protect them simply because they are white, at the expense of black women and other women of color. And I feel that this is a very important issue to MOST women of color here and around the world. Please youtube "fair and lovely commercials" for a small example.

For the purpose of conversation, I will post what I did on another site regarding this matter. I tend to write on forever, so please excuse the length. But I think this sums up quite perfectly some of the reasons I wrote this essay.

"I agree completely about the lies of the *true* power of white femininity. However I'd be willing to guess that about 98% of hetero women are in some way trying to fit it, because in patriarchy, a woman's survival depends on their ability to compete for the most financially successful and powerful mate. Historically, this has always been true.

For example do men actually benefit from patriarchy? It also oppresses men, as it only allows for certain types of "acceptable men" to have access to the power from masculinity as does white femininity allows mostly "acceptable feminine" white women to benefit from it. While men may be queer, black, low class, "effeminate" or short and ugly, there are benefits to being male that vary, but there is still that benefit. The same with being straight, regardless of class, race, or gender holds benefit. Most people know for example that white women make more money than black women (hopefully?), and that they are almost exclusively the benefiaries of social programs such as Affirmative Action. What people don't realize or think about is the fact that in patriarchy a woman's best chance for survival both financial and physical is the choices she is allowed in marriage. This has always been true.

In every country on the planet do to globalism and colonialism, women are chosen based on how much closer they are to white women, and with white women, how close they look to blond women (the whitest). This is not just the case in some countries, EVERY country. This has always been chucked up to catty female competition and "shallow" things such as looks, but we're talking the SURVIVAL of women and their offspring based on the choices they have access to in the white supremacist beauty hierarchy. It is ONLY shallow based on our trivialization of gender, so the "benefit" element is severely lessened, despite women making up the majority of the world. Take a simple word like "preference". A societal preference to only hire white men is declared immoral, since a man needs a job to provide for his family, and ensure his survival. A preference for white women is based on this same discrimination, it allows more women to marry and become entitled to the status of these men, it's the same thing. But it's still considered "natural".

People do not also address the fact that in patriarchy women need protection, because men already have it. This protection is shelled out based on the value of the women who need it. A *big* part of the survival of women is dependent on the protection allotted to them in patriarchy.

Ion said...

My reason for focusing on the "specific" physical differences is because, like with everything, they are used to justify the status of the powerless. The article it is in response to is based on physical differences, mens alleged attraction to women is based on "physical differences" (for example, we can note that men prefer women smaller than them based on societies emphasis on male domination over women). I'd HAVE to focus on the fact that many women want men much taller than they are because of this. The "physical difference" of blacks has been used to justify racism, and the physical differences of women have been used to do the same. And the "physical" differences of black women have been used to justify our exploitation and lack of privilege in comparison to white women.

Another example, if this piece were to reference a particular group of women (jewish women will be an example) I would have to bring up the fact that "small noses" make up for a "feminine" face, and "large noses" represent "witches" in popular culture (especially in Disney Films). "Jewish women" thus wouldn't represent the "ideal" like WASP blond women. I would do Jewish women an injustice if I didn't AT LEAST mention this difference, no matter how uncomfortable mentioning it might be.

I appreciate your critique, however, women are worth what they physically represent, we cannot tease apart their oppression from these alleged "physical" differences. And this is why it was important to note why black womens physical differences (no matter how vulgar I had to be) needed to be addressed. Certainly, hip hop videos show the vulgar nature in which black women are represented.

Likewise, I needed to address things that make the viewer uncomfortable, after all, it is my argument that these views are so ingrained into our psyches, it particularly makes them uncomfortable to talk about. When we're honest, physical differences have been a source of societal oppression and segregation for millennia."

I welcome all further comments. And a special thanks to anyone who mentioned the minute grammatical errors. I do not know how I did not see them. :-D

Long live the Evolution


Ion said...

Also, I should probably add that comments up for criticism of the work and questions regarding the subject matter will be taken into consideration and are welcomed. However, Marie 13, some of your comments to others here were quite hostile so I decided to delete them and I will explain why:

As I said, the issue of beauty is touchy to white women, so how much more so would it be to black women who are the opposite of the white beauty hierarchy?

With that being said, readers who do not understand the subject matter and wish to participate in the learning process with other readers are allowed. Readers who come here to take the subject matter off course or to take the focus off of the piece will be deleted. I'm sorry! I just see how this often turns into a war on other blogs. We're way to chill for this type of boxing match here anyway. :-P

I do not need to supply endless proof of who's deemed valuable, worthy of marriage and protection, and the definition of beauty. One only needs to turn on their TV.

White women benefiting from white supremacy is one thing, but to claim white women are "victims" of white supremacy is another. Slave masters are "victims" of slavery, true, but pointing away from their obvious benefit so the privilege goes unquestioned is not something I wish to see here. Please save this for the endless amounts of feminist blogs that hold this perspective.

This is something MANY women of color are not allowed to talk about. I do no want anyone who is discussing these personal experiences being attacked by people who benefit from the current system. It is simply not fair.

You are more than welcome to come back, but any hostile comments will certainly be deleted.

Thank You,


Anonymous said...

Women first, colour second.

Wow. Way to miss the whole point.

It's amazing how some women go on and on about male privilege, only to vehemently deny white privilege and claim that women of colour are the ones being divisive and breaking up THE ALMIGHTY SISTERHOOD. As if white men are the only ones who perpetuate AND benefit from racist/sexist stereotypes, beauty norms, and other oppressive constructs. As if white feminist pioneers never judged women by race, class, and other "undesirable" factors.

But I guess it's easy to ignore intersectionality and the wholly different life experiences that come with being a person of colour AND a woman if it doesn't affect you. I'm sorry to inform you that being black or any other minority isn't like some voluntary (and secondary) characteristic that women can turn off at will.

If you really think that the OP is specifically targeting you as a white woman, and if you want to make a whole show of making it ALL ABOUT YOU rather the big picture (as in, racism combined with sexism is hurtful on multiple levels and it permeates media, government, education, and every part of society to the point that privileged folks are oblivious to it + pleading colourblindness isn't going to make it go away)...then not only have you missed the whole point of the article, you've missed the whole point of feminism.

That is, if your version of feminism doesn't involve stepping on other women and minimizing their struggles to get ahead.

be.the.change said...

Wow. First I gotta say - excellent article! By flipping the script you illustrated and critiqued the pedestal of white female superiority. Regardless of how this pedestal was formed, it effects all women to varying degrees. With black women at the very bottom, the arbitrary basis of what's considered "feminine" is always out of reach.

What I love about this article is how it shines a light on the intersection of race and gender. Specifically of how beauty ideals are used to oppress women of color. And in doing so, beauty is used to uphold white supremacy. At the same time, beauty is used to uphold patriarchy. Women are scrambling to adhere to unrealistic ideal because under patriarchy beauty = power. Not equal to the power and privileges a man has, but fighting over the scraps distracts us from trying to overthrow the system.

Anyway, to respond to some of the comments..

@ Marie 13, you said:

"Overweight white nannies would become the acceptable white women in popular culture". So what you're saying here, is that overweight black child carers are the only acceptable type of black women? I think here, instead of trying to stick up for your race, you are actually doing yourself a disservice.

I wholeheartedly disagree. The acceptable black woman in pop culture (movies, tv, advertising) is the mammy. She is a selfless caretaker and loyal friend of white women. She is non-threatening because she is not a sexual competitor. In fact, she is not a sexual being at all. A variation of this is the black best friend, who is loyal to fault, is an excellent listener, and is perpetually dateless.

We are always the bridesmaid, never the bride. However, the traditional mammy is really just a lovable servant who gives sage advice. *barf*

Ion said...


"One thing I think I would clarify is the position of the men in the article--are white men or black men in power?"

I left this out intentionally. I am actually implying black men or both white men and black men throughout the essay in different spots depending on the situation.

This is the question women of color often ask themselves about feminist perspective: "Are we speaking about white women or black women?" It's never mentioned, and "women" are implied to be white women. I thought people would automatically ask the question: "which men?", the way they don't when the word "women" is addressed in feminist perspective.

White women are allowed to have different "issues" and have separate identities from white men when we mention "womens issues". Black women are not. We are deemed as "belonging to" black men, having signed a contract for mistreatment and oppression at the hands of black men, and aren't allowed to speak up about feminist rights because it makes whites "uncomfortable" when we don't support segregation. (IE the "black culture, we have no right to interfere" argument).

Would black men treat black women the same if we suddenly escalated on the beauty hierarchy, or would "womens issues" change if white women didn't have the power of femininity? Those are the questions I've been asking myself lately.



Ion said...

"The acceptable black woman in pop culture (movies, tv, advertising) is the mammy."

Precisely Bandbabe. Let me use an example of racism that effects black men at the hands of white society in earlier history, as this is exclusively what the definition of racism was and usually is.

The dancing black minstrel (or the "Coon", or "Steppin Fetchitt") was supported in popular culture who was eager to serve white men. He was effiminate, nonthreatening, and therefore supported the viewpoint that white men were superior to black men. He proved "the white man" is the ideal man.

The Mammy is deemed as a nonthreatening black woman who is eager to serve white women, and ideal white motherhood. She is asexual, unattractive, and therefore supports the viewpoint that white women are superior to black women. She proves "the white woman" is the ideal woman.

If someone can see a difference here, please alert me. One is simply trivialized because of SEXISM that states that "mens issues" with racism are more important than ours.


tertiaryanna said...

This was great.

Samantha said...

really really well done...i feel like i got to spend half a second as a black woman and i have more empathy and understanding

Anonymous said...

Beautiful article, so well written and I agree whole heartedly with you on so much of it, though I don't blame this on white women, I blame much of it on media, and mainly Hip Hop and rap artists portrayal of black people, which is an awful representation, and responsible for I'd say 90 percent of where you're coming from. White women may have it easier in some ways, but this country is still entirely more sexist than it will ever be racist, and us white women are still victimized, dehumanized, and fighting for the right to be treated as a person, too.

mariahfan78 said...

Beautiful article, so well written and I agree whole heartedly with you on so much of it, though I don't blame this on white women, I blame much of it on media, and mainly Hip Hop and rap artists portrayal of black people, which is an awful representation, and responsible for I'd say 90 percent of where you're coming from. White women may have it easier in some ways, but this country is still entirely more sexist than it will ever be racist, and us white women are still victimized, dehumanized, and fighting for the right to be treated as a person, too.

mariahfan78 said...

Beautiful article, so well written and I agree whole heartedly with you on so much of it, though I don't blame this on white women, I blame much of it on media, and mainly Hip Hop and rap artists portrayal of black people, which is an awful representation, and responsible for I'd say 90 percent of where you're coming from. White women may have it easier in some ways, but this country is still entirely more sexist than it will ever be racist, and us white women are still victimized, dehumanized, and fighting for the right to be treated as a person, too.

mariahfan78 said...

Sorry that posted so many times I don't know why, I just wanna comment on what I wrote previously, I wish I could delete it because maybe I shouldn't have mentioned anything about this country being more sexist than it is racist, because even though it's true it doesn't really pertain to what you were writing about, the more I thought about this article it really challenged me to think, and initially I was like "wait we don't have it that easy!" but compared to what a lot of black women have to face, we do have it somewhat easier....and I also thought more that it's not just hip hop that's responsible but movies and television shows and magazines and the advertising industry as well. I want to thank you for writing this because it really did open my eyes and it made me think a lot! It doesn't matter what other social issues of hierarchy are going on this world you were writing directly from your perspective and struggles as a black woman, some to which I can relate to from being a woman but also exclusive to women of color.

GoldenAh said...

>>White women may have it easier in some ways, but this country is still entirely more sexist than it will ever be racist, and us white women are still victimized, dehumanized, and fighting for the right to be treated as a person, too.

GMAFB! That's just evil saying this. White women always want to win the "oppression wars." It's always about you, isn't it? The narcissism of white feminism is astounding.

Some of the worst racists I've ever encountered have been white women. You just get to keep and claim victim hood after you've done your evil deeds.

Stop making this all about yourselves, it isn't.

This was an excellent essay.

Alienati0n, may I put some of this on my page, and link the rest back to you?

Anonymous said...

A suggestion to add something from my own experience, which I am sure is not rare. Of course, in this essay the descriptors would be reversed:

If you appear to be black, but are not, expect any man you date to treat you differently once he meets your parents.

My multi-ethicity is actually white/indigenous, but it is shocking how many times I went from "girl-friend material" to "booty call" once actual race AND class were revealed...I can only imagine how much more intense this experience mght be for "white looking" black women. Not sure where you'd want to go with that, but I imagine that it's not uncommon for men to think a woman is an "exotic looking" white woman, a behavior reversal when they find out she's not white.

Elizabeth said...

Hi- I came here via a link from Feministing, and this is absolutely fantastic :)

Maybe this comment will show me to be privileged as well or just overly optimistic, but I think all the privilege showing in the comments here could be a good thing. I remember having the exact same angry, defensive reaction after reading bell hooks's "From Margin to Center," but I digested it for a couple more days and suddenly understood my own privilege in a way I never had before, and began to actually listen. Looks like this is a learning moment for a lot of white feminists... in other words, your approach is working!

This inspires me to write something similar flipping the script between Asian American men and women with issues particular to our community... if I post it anywhere I'll be sure to link back. Thanks for this great piece!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this piece. As someone who self-identifies as a feminist, but who is also White, I find sometimes that we can dish out the notion of privilege (e.g., male, heterosexual privilege), but we can't take being called out on our own privilege. Thank you for doing so in such a poignant way.

Unknown said...

wow, i as a white woman never realized what black women were subjugated too. Personally, I think women of all races and ethnicity have beautiful women, even if they look different.

Anonymous said...

This article is thought provoking, and the way it flowed was pure poetry. Thank you for writing this and sharing it us.

Gnatalby said...

I came over from Feministing, what a fantastic and thought provoking article.

The thing that struck me (and I am a white woman, and I hope this isn't a derail, and if it is, I apologize) is that the position of white women presently, and the position of black women in this hypothetical, is still not entirely privileged. White women are ABSOLUTELY privileged vis a vis black women (and this article does an amazing job illustrating how arbitrary that is), but there would still be a lot of patriarchal crap to deal with. Being the "most desirable object" is still being an object.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not the "white features" of a woman. It is the conditioning and programming of men to prefer certain "jagged features" if you're to target anyone, target the men and society, mainly white suburbia. Those suburban blonde dip-shit soccer mom's don't help, they reinforce the problem by sculpting some backwater notion of what perfection should be to their children. Not to mention, these children are sheltered and spoiled, that doesn't help either.

Ion said...

"This inspires me to write something similar flipping the script between Asian American men and women with issues particular to our community."

That sounds REALLY interesting Elizabeth! Please please be sure to post if/when you do!

Ion said...


Sure! I don't see a problem with anyone putting it on their site so long as they link it back to the blog. My only request is that they tell me where it's posted, as I am interested in the conversation about it on other blogs as well and would like to also comment on these sites :-).

"this country being more sexist than it is racist, because even though it's true it doesn't really pertain to what you were writing about,"

Thank you for coming back to clarify Mariahfan, however, you are still fundamentally wrong in my opinion. This country is not more sexist than racist, or more racist than sexist. This binary thinking simply does not support reality, as real life is not about "Oppression Olympics". All these institutional "isms" work in collaboration, and cannot be teased apart from each other.

obviously, black women experience brutal oppression because of sexism IN COMBINATION with racism. So when you break them in two "sexism" vs. "racism", it is clear that you mean "who has it harder, black men or white women?". Black men benefit from sexism and racism against black women, as do white women, yet both claim to be "victims" who can't be held responsible. Why should a white man be held responsible for the oppression of a white woman or a black man then?

This essay isn't about "beauty" this essay is about WHAT women are valued for, generally meaning whiteness exclusively. Let's not create cute words for it, it's called white supremacy when white men and black men fight over masculinity concepts, however, this is declared racism. Whether it be workforce discrimination (a black man has the right to feed his family), the lack of criticism from whites for hip hop (after all, black men have the right to lord over "their women" however they see fit), or police harassment of black male thugs (black men should be allowed to run their own streets). And so on and so forth. All of this doesn't consider the brutal aggressive misogyny black women experience. It is because of the privilege of white women that we are deemed less deserving of being safe on public streets, or considered more capable of being single mothers, or ignored when we report rape than white women, and why we are "two different groups" of women in the first place.

The fact that white femininity is left unaddressed to frame white women as innocent is proof of how much white women are protected. An object is still an object yes, but when one object is considered the ideal mother and life partner for value and commitment, and the other is considered an over sexual "strong" subhuman who is a nanny, a whore, or a angry animal who "loves to fight" to trivialize the violence and sexual abuse against them at alarming rates--this equates to REAL difference.

Tell the black and mexican women who work as nanny's for "wealthy white" trophy wives that they are objectified "the same", or explain to an East Indian woman who has permanent scaring from using skin bleach, or an East Asian woman who is getting Blepharoplasty, or an American black woman who was passed up for marriage because they aren't white that white women are "the same" as they are.

Fundamentally, we are all women, and I am glad you posted here as well as the other white women. Just as a man, one takes the knowledge of their privilege and either runs from acknowledging it, or works to unlearn it.

I didn't write this essay to put blame on white women, just as "If men could menstruate" doesn't target men in any direct way. It just discusses how easily physical differences can either support oppression OR privilege.


Sharese said...

Wow. This article gives a lot to think about. Very well written. I look foward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

This is a really great article. It is making me think a lot about what privilege really means. I look forward to reading more.

Rebecca said...

(Here via Feministing.)

This is such a great article. Thanks for writing it - I and, I'm sure, so many other people have been enlightened by it.

Anonymous said...

Great article and don't mind the hatahz! They don't and won't ever get it. The white man went around and conquered the world and bastardized all cultures and he took his woman with him and set her up as the standard. I don't care what ethnicity you are, you're being judged by how close you come to that 5th Avenue White beauty standard. Period! So Asian, Latino, Indian, etc. It's how close you come to having fair skin, slender nose, small lips, naturally straight hair with body, bounce, shine, fullness and no residue (so no grease, oil and stiffness). If you're looking closer to those peoples who are the descendants of those with black skin, big lips, wide nose and ferrelled hair, then you're going to receive some hateration. Now if you're white, you know the pressure is on you as well, but know if we're in a white is supreme system, you got some heads up. So play up to it and you know you do! LOL!

Anonymous said...

As a mixed white and asian chick, even I get shit too for not being a white girl. Every girl a guy cheated on me with was white. It's like they're considered more attractive when really TV and the movies say they are so people follow.

Anonymous said...

Thats an interesting posts. I think that it assumes that in the ideas of most Americans that black women are considered less than idea which I dont always feel is the case. We should remember that every poll taken with white women has shown them to find black women to be more attractive, more self assured and generally more together than they are. Also Black men still overwhelmingly prefer black women and the popular culture ideal of what a women is supposed to look like for 30 and under generation is alot more ethnic and tied to the hip hop cultures standard of beauty which is closer to the physical appeal of a black woman than white..Zamani

arielariel said...

woah, this is awesome.

Jazz said...

A-mazing! People don't realize how ridiculous an assumption is until it's turned bass-ackwards in front of a mirror.

Ion said...

"every poll taken with white women has shown them to find black women to be more attractive, more self assured and generally more together than they are."

This is because these studies are heirarchal in their nature and things that white women are often insecure about they assume are applicable to black women. All women are insecure, we can't avoid it. There's always that mirror nagging us about our imperfectons. To say black women are more "confident" than white women is a widely believed lie. Anyone who believes this is either being bamboozled, has privilege and therefore this is convenient theory, or is lying to themselves. To say that black women have a better self image than white women who fit the beauty heirarchy essentially states that black women aren't people...aren't breathing women.

I do hear your point that white women are more outwardly insecure in general because beauty privilege is somewhat attainable to them. If you asked about body type then black women *MIGHT* have an overall more positive image than white women. But do these studies ask about nose size/shape, dark complexion, etc?

But because we are ridiculed for showing our vulnerability (people don't realize that we have feelings like normal breathing humans, for example) then it's easier to feign confidence. "Fake it til ya make it" so to speak.

And I guarantee you that a black woman that looks closer to Michelle Obama in complexion than Mariah Carey will have TONS of insecurity about being considered desirable in black settings. Her choices in partners and the abuse many black women are socialized to accept (like the psychological impact of constant verbal sexual abuse and threats of violence JUST from leaving the house and walking down street corners) have never been studied because black woman are "naturally" psychologically stronger and can "deal with pain" better than white women. It's based on the same "BW have more confidence" rumor. As if somehow we are the ONLY people with some impenetrable gene that is not at all effected by what we see on TV. I assure you we are.

"hip hop cultures standard of beauty"

Hip hop doesn't have a standard of beauty but perpetuates the image of the ideal types of bodies for sexual exploitation and other forms of usery (black women with a specific body shape). You will also notice that when the video is more sexual in nature the darker the women, the "chosen girl" (the one for marriage/love/relationship) is MUCH lighter. We learn from hip hop that the "dark skinned ones" are the dirty whores you can sexually assault or treat with disrespect. It's the same as a different standards of treatment cross culturally for the "women you want to marry" and the "stripper".

-Dark skinned black women for financial, sexual, and other forms of exploitation.

-Light skinned women for marriage, companionship, value, and respect.

This image is played over and over in hip hop videos like a demonically possessed 8-track.

The "stripper" vs the "wife" in black constructs is based on how closely you resemble white women and how far you are in looks away. In short yes, white women benefit from beauty privilege, but the only black women that benefit are those that look closer to white women indirectly. You're telling me that black women haven't at all been effected by that?

Ion said...

"As a mixed white and asian chick, even I get shit too for not being a white girl. Every girl a guy cheated on me with was white. It's like they're considered more attractive when really TV and the movies say they are so people follow."

Women of Color alllllll over the globe are only imaging it simultaneously! Either that or told "This is just my preference". As though preferences mysteriously beamed out of the sky by process of divine insight.

Men do not seem to like admitting that they're easily brainwashed followers, and I don't expect many to ever do so. The image that looks closer to the woman who's on TV "just happens" to mysteriously be their first choice. Right? Yeah. Got it.

I've heard your story many many times, sadly. :0( Needless to say, the media and globalism never come up. The truth is that "beauty standards" are more directly related to a man's ego than war, starvation, genocide or colonization in my opinion. At least, that seems to be what's going on when darker women are outright told through actions that women who are lighter "just happen" to be preferred over them, and that it's an isolated incident. But is it?

I'm so sorry this happened to you. But if it brings you any temporary relief, you are not alone. This has happened to 6 of my friends (yea I just counted). Either they were dumped for someone lighter than them but not white, or they were dumped for someone who was white, OR they were white and dumped by someone lighter (brunettes dumped for blonds for example).

But it's conspiracy!

John Appiah-Duffell said...

This is really an incredible article...subscribing to the blog, passing the link around to as many people as possible.

TheVoiceOfReason said...

Whoa...Knowledge. You need to come to the Jwriter show. You rock!


Anonymous said...

Great post, it's what people are thinking, but don't want to say out loud!! I look forward to more of your posts.

Aida said...

There are two articles that I came across that relate to this article. One is about why white skin developed and talked about how white skin was probably associated with better health.

The other is about blue eyes.

At the end of the article it implies that blue eyes made a person more desirable and blue eyed people had more kids.

I posted this mainly for the people that don't get this notions and the history behind this blog post. It's interesting that in 2009 there are still articles that promote the idea that white features = increased desirability

X said...

AWESOME article! Here's another example for ya:

Highly talented actresses like Angelina Jolie can't seem to get a break and has recently been seen in such subpar films as Becky Goes to Jail, an overly sentimental film featuring a fat asexual gun-toting grandma, like so many films that mock the femininity of white women by having white men play grotesque female characters.

Meanwhile, actresses like Angela Bassett and Kerry Washington and Nia Long are maaaaaad overexposed, starring in a dozen films a year and winning Oscars left and right.

X said...

Also, I agree with everyone who said to proofread the essay for spelling and syntax errors. I also agree that putting all the scenarios in present tense is more powerful.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Always amazed to see how many white women want to make everything feminism-related about them, as evidenced by some of the comments here.

Just as a quick note, anything you write is automatically copyrighted - registration isn't needed. See

alicetiara said...

I'm going to assign this piece to my undergrads for a unit on representation of black women (along with the bell hooks essay "Selling Hot Pussy"). Thanks for writing such a fascinating and thought-provoking article.

be.the.change said...

Aida - Thanks for the article links. They illustrate A-i0n's theme.

It really is disturbing to see the bias in so many scientific articles today. We really aren't that far from eugenics being considered a valid field of study...

In the blue eyes article, this stood out:

"The question really is, 'Why did we go from having nobody on Earth with blue eyes 10,000 years ago to having 20 or 40 percent of Europeans having blue eyes now?" Hawks said. "This gene does something good for people. It makes them have more kids."

Simply amazing how the scientist make the jump that the gene is inherently "good" and somehow make people have more kids? Where is the scientific evidence for either claim?


Kime said...

As a white female I've never thought of myself as someone in position of power, and have always (naively) considered all women my "comrades", and this article actually feels like a personal attack because of this. On the other hand, one need only turn on the TV for ten minutes to see the truth in the article.

Slim Jackson said...

This post is genius. One of the best things I ever read on a blog. I wish more people wrote like this. The perspective is crazy (not like pyscho, but like crazy in the good way). I'll def be back to check out this site as well. Most definitely appreciate good writing.

Luvvie said...

THIS. IS. DOPE! Loved it, loved it! I'm telling everyone about it. I KNOW why you got this copyrighted.

Unknown said...

I got chills.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really loved this. I linked to it on my Facebook. I thought you did an amazing job of exposing everyday examples of white priviledge and forcing me, as a white woman, to examine some priviledges I had never thought of. I read some commenter claim that you "blamed" white women, which I don't think is true -- I think you told them to examine their priviledge, take responsibility, and recognize how harmful inequality and a skewed power structure can be. Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you will pass it out to more people.

De said...

I love love love this article and I cannot wait to read more of your writing. Its intelligent and insightful. Well done. Good luck with getting this published!!

B said...

Amazing article, sis. I am a beauty blogger and this was sent to me from one of my fellow blog/Twitter sisters. Truly a GREAT read. I'll be looking out for more of your articles.

Alicia said...

This made me cry. The truth in it is so profound that it gave a voice to things that I have felt for many years as a young Black woman but could not put into intelligible words myself because of the rage that I felt. Thank You. It is beautiful and incredibly well written. It it is ok by you I am going to place this on my blog and pass this link on to others. Again thank you.

Erika said...

Found this on Reddit, LOVE IT!

I'm white with curly hair, so I guess like someone said on Reddit, I would be considered attractive "for a white woman."

Mistress D said...

Thanks for this awesome article...good luck with getting this published for the masses to read.

Its refreshing to see these comments, so many folks 'get it' - no arguing and name calling...thank you.

Because I am passionate about topics such as this, I posted a link, along with excerpts, on my blog.

Anonymous said...

"“I need a strong white woman!” would become a popular “empowering” slogan for exploitative men who rationalized the emotional, financial, and sexual overburdening of white women."

What makes the men exploitative?

milam command said...

I love me some black chicks. I married one. Still, the principle remains that:
"The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking."

Anonymous said...

Right-Write on!

brimcp19 said...

Great article! The points are so culturally on point. I would have never thought about Dove through the lens but it is completely true. Thank you so much for opening my eyes a little more!

CraigJC said...

Awesome article. I'll def be tweeting this piece. You're a great writer.

Mistress D said...

One last comment, this article ties into the Interracial Dating discussion I'm having on my online talk radio show Friday night. I will mention this article and post a link in our chat room for listeners to read.

If you care, you can listen to the show via this link, we're on LIVE tonight, 9/11, at 9:00pm PST / Midnight EST.

Anonymous said...

THIS ARTICLE IS AMAMZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Favor8Art said...

New to the blog world and a wonderful and poignant introduction. Well said, er, written. Wow!

Sherisa (L'élephant Rose) said...

EXCELLENT article. Thoroughly thought out. This felt like a college discussion. Loved it. Thank you. I'll be passing it around to many a friend.

Unknown said...

Wow! My mind continues to be blown. Now write this column again about men and see how people react to it.

Lori said...

Clever & powerful. Loved the discussion too. Hate I'm just now seeing it . . .

Anonymous said...

thank-you so much for articulating this! it's an amazing piece and i am so happy to see the author and so many commenters who "get it" because it seems some days out in the world that a lot of people don't! i've said it before but i've been thinking that IF and WHEN there is true inclusion of all kinds of black women in these long-held constructs of beauty and desirability and perceptions of value: only then, will we see any kind of new major, transformative, revolutionary shift taking place.

no, it's NOT the most important ideal in the world some will say but you've aptly shown the linkages which helped me to be able to understand my premise more. value systems can hold up or undermine systems of oppression and everything is interconnected. the continuous denial and exclusion of black women into these lofty spaces (these ideas/constructs/concepts) of beauty and desirability are as much an intergral part of dismantling anything else and there is a clear trickle-down effect.

we are self-conscious about deconstructing it--precisely because it is so problematic and has the potential to be transformative. and it is uncomfortable to reckon with. no, i don't want to be idealized either or simply objectified but the people whining the most anyway--are oftentimes ALREADY included. when the "doll test" can be recreated and little black kids are STILL choosing the white doll as better, prettier, nicer and UNLIKE themselves: we can see how these permeating ideas have far-reaching ramifications. plus black women seem to be the last hold-out! black men (and i have argued this with males i know) can at least get greater access by way of an inkling of male privilege, a big penis (or the perception of one) etc, can be unabashedly and visibly black AND still considered desirable, appealing etc. when black women are able to enter these spaces in all their dark-skinned, kinky haired glory---we'll truly be living in a different kind of world.

Anonymous said...

I simply do not buy into this theory, or notion, of "white privilege." And the reason is because the same principles can be used to any other group of people and therefore seems to invalidate itself, and even justify further racism. I am a young white woman myself, but I have never in my life gone into a situation thinking, "I'll get this [job] because I am white." When I wake up in the morning I don't put on a label that identifies me as "White Woman." And I don't think that anyone should (with their respective labels).

As far as beauty is concerned, I accept my looks just as they are because I know that it all boils down to something that no one has any control over: genetics. I have a big butt, small nose, small ears, dark eyes and slightly olive-tinged white skin because the lineage before me consists of Northern and Eastern European genetic influences. And that's it. I don't buy into these ideas of beauty that society apparently has because how you look is something you cannot fundamentally change. I think if more women just realized that it basically just comes down to science, they would be better off for it. And also, to not walk around as "black woman" or "white woman" or any other label would greatly improve the way we treat each other.

The phrase "White Privilege" greatly offends me because I don't believe it has anything to do with me. Perhaps some white people believe they are entitled, but I do not for one second think I have the upper hand in anything simply because of the color of my skin. I have worked genuinely hard for every success and accomplishment I have had; they've been earned through hard work and dedication, and not because of whiteness.

Anonymous said...

wow. just wow.

Lauren McLaughlin said...

Pardon my French, but that was friggin' genius.

Unknown said...

This is truly amazing. Thank you for doing such an awesome job of articulating what is "hidden" in our society. I found this at Bitch Magazine, and I'm passing it around.

Madeline Howell said...

I arrived here via facebook / being a fan of Bitch magazine. I greatly appreciated the ways in which you detailed how things could so easily be the opposite. It really reminded me to begin noticing and comprehending the many "ideals", "norms", and standards that specifically exclude women of color as being feminine, beautiful, pure, etc. As a white woman I would encourage all other white women to set aside any initial inclination to be offended. This article is not against white women, it's not even really about white women. It is about the constant and pervasive narrow view of that is good or preferable, and how these arbitrary standards are created and validate the population that is the dominant power. This article shows how silly and fabricated these standards are. If you find yourself offended as many of us will, as was my initial gut reaction; imagine experiencing those emotions countless times a day because you don't match up to what someone has decided is desirable. I try to fight for feminist ideals, and I try to notice oppression and racism, but those of us who are inherently privileged by sheer luck and nothing else, need constant reminders that what we take for granted is something that may cause someone else constant pain. I can never understand what it is to be a woman of color, but I can set aside my feelings and pride to acknowledge my privilege, and I can use my privilege and voice to support the deconstruction of such beliefs that brought me privilege in the first place. This article is purely an example to immerse the reader in a viewpoint, everyone knows that these examples are generalizations. But it is so highly effective in calling attention to the unchecked superiority and power handed to white women every day.Women as a gender face discrimination, but women of color face gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and all of the areas where those overlap.

Madeline Howell said...

Also, White privilege is not necessarily about having the mindset that you deserve better because of your skin tone, but rather a term that recognizes the deeply rooted privilege established for white people. The reason you don't think about it, don't label yourself whit, is because you ARE white. Of course you don't have to think about it- that is part of the PRIVILEGE. That's why this article is so wonderful, it highlights some of the ways in which white women are privileged, because white women (myself)don't see the privilege. But that's because we have it. Of course you may not expect to get a job because you are white, but you will also never get turned down for a job and wonder if it was BECAUSE you were white. And I do not believe for one second that this article was written to lament any type of failure to achieve the standards of beauty. It was a lament that the standards of beauty exclude ENTIRE RACES.

annaham said...

Fantastic piece!

tabitha said...

This is, quite possibly, the best thing I've read all year. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Very important for me to read, as a white woman, and have some aha moments myself. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Despite the cissexual-centrism of the post, there are a lot of good points here.

As an aside to the Steinam reference, some men DO menstruate. Many trans men still menstruate, and are still, nevertheless, men.

julian said...

Anonymous @ November 5, 2009 8:09 PM obviously does not understand what white privilege means.

Because I'm feeling nice, here's a good place for zim and anyone else confused about white privilege to start:

Treacle said...

Love, love, love this! Thanks so much and I've sent it to everyone on my friend's list on LJ! :-)

Jen Taylor Friedman said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Are feminists really this close minded?

Lane Levine said...

This is incredible! I love reading your stuff.

SheilaK said...

I thought this article was great. I did find it somewhat interesting to see *which* black women you chose as the ones who would be considered representative of the black beauty ideal. I have noticed that if a black woman has a large behind, large hips, and an overall "soft" appearance, that is associated with her blackness. If a woman is tall and broad-framed with a lot of muscle and little fat, that too is associated with her blackness.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Linked here via a friend's LJ. As a white woman, it's hard to read this and I did feel a lot of anger but after a few moments I realised that, when I already spend more of my life than I'd like trying to defend my rights, this really put me in a place where I could feel an inkling of having even fewer rights than I'm used to. And I wasn't angry at you. I'm angry that you're in that place all the time. Nobody should be there.

I found the part about how white people aren't willing to challenge the oppression of black women because they see it as part of what we think is 'black culture' especially interesting. Maybe I'm going off on a tangent here, but there's been some recent press reports giving an awful lot more publicity than I'm used to seeing to some instances of sexual assault that happened locally (Northern England). These incidents all involved attackers that were Asian or Eastern European. It seems that it's fine for white British men to treat white British women this way (since nobody bothers to write about that in the newspapers except to deny it happens or victim-blame), but when an 'outsider' does it, all the men start stepping up to defend 'their property'. I'm wondering if maybe there's a similar 'property tag' attached to black women, assuming they're the property of black men. I know there's a lot more to the situation than that, and I hope I'm not coming across as derailing here. If so, I apologise. Just my clumsy attempt to try to relate things to my own experience.

You've given me a lot to think about anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. Obviously this is written for a much broader audience and has many a purpose, but I really appreciate the hammer-over-the-head effect this article has for white women. It's sad that white women (i'm one, too) need to have things spelled out to them, but clearly we do, as evidenced even by some comments here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alienati0n, I've posted this to my Facebook where it might be read by other white people like myself who rarely take the time to read feminist literature, let alone consider the intersection of racism and sexism and the pain it can cause. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

this article seems very insecure and i fail to see the point. its pretty much saying 'what if black people were white?'

if that were the case, racism and prejudice people experience would be reversed, but that's it. so? nothing would be different. the only way it would make sense is if you were black one day then white the next. since that isn't happening... it's nice to think about but it would probably be better to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something to change things.

if anything somebody white will look at this and possibly think all black women feel like victims. that sure doesn't help the cause.

Antikythera said...

Love the article and am finding the comments valuable as well -- although someone else already commented with what I wanted to say, which was that we white women seem to be pretty good at calling out men on their sexual privilege but bad at examining our own white privilege.

ceeursoul&smile said...

Your writing skills are impeccable. In your ability to remain subliminal, your focus spoke louder than the most obvious of phrases. INCREDIBLE.

Ann said...

What a profoundly beautiful essay.

With your permission, I would like to post your essay at my blog, as I feel that your powerful words deserve wider circulation and recognition.

I will provide a direct link back to your blog so that other readers may discover the sublime beauty of your knowledge.

If this is alright with your permission.

Thank you for writing this much needed truth.

D. Fads said...

This article was really interesting. It really depicts what's really happening at the media today

Enigma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enigma said...

I read the article, which is very good. In this country black women have become as Zora Neale Hurston stated years ago in her famous book, the mules of the world.And then I began to read the comments. *sigh*

To all the women of other races who say WHAT ABOUT US, no offense but the title suggest from get that it is NOT about you. Black women cannot speak for everyone, in every forum all of the time. You may really NEED to examine how your ethnicity/race is treated by the media and the majority culture and write an essay or blog post that makes your concerns, points & position clear. Please learn NOW that often ONLY YOU can bang your own drum as hard as you can to be heard. The let's all get along message that I read in some of the posts were touching, however the reality is that sometimes the issues (racial etc.) btw us makes getting along hard or impossible. Trying to ignore the elephant in the room will not just make it go away.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely phenomenal. I couldn't have said it better.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the BEST articles I've ever read. From a Canadian woman's perspective, the power and priviledge are still the same with an amplified level of invisibility for ALL women of color, not only Black women. In Canada Aboriginal women bear the burden of the same scientific garbage and rationalization via those awful "statistics" here.

Devan said...

Fantastic article!

Anonymous said...

@ Incongman: You have just proven the point by your blatant bigoted comment. I find it interesting that you would come here, read an article on race relations, use the word nigger, and then think anyone is going to take you seriously. Really?! I find that fear is the largest cause of bigotry and prejudice, and I would suggest that you work on the fear that has led you to this dark place of anger, bigotry and justification. I don't feel angry with you, I feel sad for you. I think it must be hard walking around with those thoughts permeating in your head, poisoning your life and relationships. Always feeling inadequate and lost. Maybe if you stepped out of your own pain and fear, you could see the pain and fear of those around you. Thereby realizing how ridiculous you are being, how ridiculous you sound. There are two true emotions in my opinion, and all other emotions stem from these two. They are Love and Fear, and if you're not livin' in Love, your livin' in Fear. Your choice. I'll keep a good thought for your soul, because it sounds like you need it.

@ Alienation: Thank you for your article, these are the things I think about all the time. I often wonder what it must be like in the minds of those who don't have to question or think twice about WHY things are they way they are, or how to NOT to live within the systemic deterioration of our souls and communities. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a movie set in the old South where white men were the maids, black women are their bosses and the men are the bread winners. Or even switching it around so the men are the stay at home dad. I love flipping social roles around. You did a great job.

Mr. Noface said...

That was an absolutely excellent post.

Ion said...

Thanks all for the positive feedback on our posts! I've been reading each and every comment through my email (even if I haven't had the time to respond) and I truly appreciate everything you have all said so far.

Rock on,


Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Found this on a black hair site. The comments are interesting as well. For those white women who don't get it here is a small example. Check this out, watch tv and let us know how many times a hair commercial shows a natural haired black woman, (no weave or chemical straightenrs) washing or styling her hair. In all my 40 plus years on earth if I relied on commercials to wash my hair my dreadlocks or afro would be as dirty as mud.

D in the U.K

seitzk said...

Love this post.

Miss S. said...

Great post - I really enjoyed the read this morning!

theotherworldly said...

I love this, I find it witty and the shift in outlook is smart in revealing privilege. But I do have something to add -- this article would be better if it wasn't dichotomised into a Black vs White femininity. What about South Asian/Chinese/Japanese/Korean/CentralAsian/Latino/etc ... femininity?

I understand that contrasting the two ends of the colour spectrum makes it so much more obvious, but the article could be inadvertently perpetuating simplistic bifurcation -- something I am sure the author is not supportive of. Thanks.

Ion said...

The reason why I chose black women to focus on is because we are considered the opposite of white women, more of a ying and yang dichotomy than say, Asian women. However, I am well aware that the exotification of Asian women is not "positive" on a wide scale, because asian women are not white women and are not protected in society the way white women are. We live in patriarchy, so being high on the "femininity" scale equates to safety. In patriarchy, women NEED to be protected. Just as in patriarchy, women who are valued for marriage have more access to resources necessary to survive. I'm uncomfortable with this issue, as a feminist. However, I believe it needs to be addressed. Many white feminists do not seem to want to touch this touchy subject (either intentionally or because they were not aware--both are the same when you have privilege), because they benefit. White feminists also tend to not complain when men all over the world are tripping over themselves to be with them simply because of white supremacy. The same white feminists who are benevolent in their actions when it comes to mens sudden preference of "asian women" because they are "more feminine", but had no issue when black and other groups of men chose them because they are "feminine".

Surely, if latino women were white women, we wouldn't hear so much about their domestic capabilities to justify latina domestic worker exploitation. If latina women were white women, we wouldn't hear about latina bodies being sexually available because of their body shape, setting latina women up for sexual exploitation as well (which inherently justifies their isolation in high crime neighborhoods of color, like black women). If arab women were white women, we wouldn't tie their specific oppression to a burqa that prevents us from sexualizing their "exotic" bodies, liberals wouldn't defend arab male exploitation of arab women by saying "that's their culture", and racist whites wouldn't use "our liberated white women" as an excuse to hate arab men. These issues are hardly mutually exclusive. Particularly what is being done with arab men "look how y'all treat y'all women" to justify racism is precisely what black men fear. Which is why black men have benefitted and been the main endorsers of racism against black women at the hands of whites and everyone else.

However, black women are the only women I can think of who are stripped of any femininity what so ever. We've never heard the word "black femininity", it's oxymoronic. I'm not saying this to discredit oppression of other women, but to make people aware of the specific oppression of black women that has gone "undercover" for millenia. Black women; who must be considered strong, sexual, "fighters", loud, are meant to enable racial segregation. We cannot argue that racial segregation is inherent without compromising WOMEN'S safety in high crime areas, black women HAVE to be depicted this way to justify poverty, crime, and so forth. There are no statistics I've found saying anything negative about white women, any websites devoted to hatred of white women, communities who are allowed exclusive access to the to the resources of white women and so on.

The great thing about these "flip the script" type of essays like Steinem's is that they truly can be applied to everyone Asian women, Latina women, Trans Women, and so forth. As Steinem said, the justifications for power can go on forever. I'd love to actually see people write this regarding these groups. If someone writes one, please come back here and leave the link :-)

Much love,


butterflywings said...

Er, I'm not sure statisticians said anything about what ethnicity of women men are most attracted to. Sounds more like evo psych to me.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you and the statement is ridiculous (as if all men are attracted to the same type of women, and as if all white/ black/ whatever women look similar, for a start). I'm just, pedantically I know, pointing out that statisticians have not said this.

Ion said...

"I'm just, pedantically I know, pointing out that statisticians have not said this."

You should google "blond preference" or something along those lines and you will find a plethora of information that points to men statistically and scientifically having a preference for blonds. "Blond" is code for white. It's no different than saying most intelligent men are blond, however, it's only "shallow" or "harmless" because we trivialize sexism and issues that affect women...

Please also take into consideration that "dark hair" can mean anyone, women of color or not. And that blond is specifically coded into the equation to specify WHITE women.

Likewise, a statement like "gentlemen prefer blonds" is as white supremacist as the statement that companies "prefer" white men because of their intellectual capacities. White women specifically benefit from racism because we trivialize any issue that affects women, as women of color will tell you that liberals jump to feel "guilty" for racism against black men for example, while supporting racism against them or not challenging this racism. From domestic workers not being unionized while construction workers are, to the fact that "street" prostitutes are picked up for harming no one, while men of color are allowed to "loiter" every corner in every inner city neighborhood terrorizing the women who walk past. Men, they deem, naturally should be allowed to "run their own streets", as an example.

Please let me know if you cannot find these forums and statistics. I will pull them up.

dilettante said...

thank you.

Aarwenn said...

Am really late to the party but this is GREAT. I'm very much in agreement with your essay. I especially like how you focused--in many ways--on how black women's bodies are considered to be more sexual and how they can "take it", and how therefore they SHOULD be yelled at on street corners and have their asses groped in clubs, especially by black men, which is just what black men "prefer", and obviously black women are okay with this mistreatment because it's a "cultural thing". I lived one summer in DC with a roommate who was mixed race and about a size two. She had a super cute intellectual lean vibe. On the other hand, I (and I'm white) am a curvy, curvy girl, barely fitting into my size 10s, overflowing my F cups and ripping out the seat of my jeans. We had a very interesting summer just walking around DC--men were constantly confused as to which one of us they should hit on according to their obvious racial preferences, regardless of whether the guys themselves were black or white.

Also, @SheilaK: well said.

@momsomniac: EXCELLENT point. One of my friends is half black and half white--a different girl from my D.C. roommate--and whereas my roommate "looked" mixed race, my friend "looks" Hispanic. She has had definite problems when her dates or dates' moms realize she is, in fact, black.

Melodie said...

Just wow! Amazing!

Nia said...

Wow. I'm going to direct every evolutionary psychology fan I know to read this piece. It's absolutely fantastic.

Dorothy said...

Wow! What an insightful article, Alienati0n! Thank you for the reference to one of my she-ros, Sojourner Truth. While reading your article, I thought back to the many, many incidences of being objectified and sexualized by black men on the street. As watched as these same men never said one word or uddered one obscenity to white women who passed by. I wasn't dressed "provocatively" in any way. It made me feel as if I wasn't worthy to be respected by the very men who I desperately wanted to respect me. It is a sad commentary, but your piece was very enlightening. Thanks!

Anna Geletka said...

Just wanted to respond to people posting about biased scientific articles suggesting that white skin or blue eyes are somehow healthier. While the supposed "preference" for light skin / blonds is silly, and there is certainly a lot of evo psych nonsense, this is not the case with every scientific examination into appearance.

White skin evolved in Europe because it was beneficial FOR THAT ENVIRONMENT. Same reason darker skin evolved in Africa (and all along the equator). (Read "Skin" by Nina Jablonski if you are interested in this issue.) Blue eyes evolved and spread because they may have conferred a benefit IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. Anyone who tries to make wide-ranging comments about attractiveness, health, and race in our modern society is talking out their ass. Often this happens when uninformed journalists misquote scientists.

Many of our appearance-related traits appeared and spread because they conferred a health benefit. Not for all people everywhere in the world, but for that specific, local environment in which they evolved. There is a big difference between saying that and saying "white skin evolved because it is healthier" without any further explanation.

Also, awesome article.

tinfoil hattie said...

Wow. Thank you. This is tremendous. I skated on over from another site, and will be back!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Ion said...

"I wasn't dressed "provocatively" in any way. It made me feel as if I wasn't worthy to be respected"

:-(. I think of the 13yr black girls who grow up dealing with this on a constant basis, who internalize it. And even worse, the grown black women who've normalized verbal abuse as a way of life as many of the psychological issues that develop from being constantly subjected to verbal abuse (I've read a strong connection between black and latino using food as a relief as extra weight they believe makes them 'less accessible' somehow in their neighborhoods, and therefore safer. That it's "unsafe" to be pretty and a woman of color). :-'(

I once read, how can "I'll fuck that" and all the other comments quite similar be anything but an invitation for rape? And when you don't respond, we've ALL HEARD the "well fuck you you ugly bitch!" comments that follow.

I recently moved. The change of geography improved my overall mood, demeanor and so forth. And I've ALWAYS advocated for black women and all other women to do the same. I now know that the "pissed off" look on black women's faces on the street to protect themselves is because we're not considered worthy of others (law enforcement, etc.,) to protect us. And I know this because I grew up upstate near cow country and could skip down the street or be deep in thought without hearing the nastiest things that come out of men's mouth. Other spots on the blog, I talked about how I was followed off of the train, threatened to be knifed, and so forth. And for what?! Walking..

I used to get sexually aggressive comments such as the above about 6 x a day in my old neighborhood, it's gone down to NONE in the two weeks since I've moved. And to think you know how many "progressives" and BM would call me a "sellout" for not sharing my resources and "sexually available" body with "our community" by living there. These same people who are RELATIVELY SAFE in comparison.

Even MORE disturbing is that black women aren't considered relevant enough to be worthy of protection and it wasn't more blatantly obvious then when I was looking for housing. I saw plenty of forums such as "I'm a white female, I want to move here, is it safe?" In other words "I'm mentioning that I'm a white woman so that YOU KNOW my safety is important, I'm not like these black women who are 'equipped to handle it'". Yeah, how many black women do I know with black belts, straps of ammo, and take street boxing classes?! None.

So yeah, I hear you loud and clear. This can never be the focus and it will be blamed on the "black pathology" if ever IT IS the focus. Society does not care about our rights to safety, so, WE MUST cARE and do what's in our power to leave such sources of clear sexual violence and hatred. We can think about "the reasons behind it" later.

lady macleod said...

Bloody brilliant! I am a woaca and white. My daughter sent me the link to your post. I hear everything you are saying, and you articulated it beautifully.

I see that you gave "Tiffany" permission to "pass it around", so I shall take that as leave and post a link from my blog. This needs to be read.

Very thought provoking. Well done.

Anonymous said...

So interesting and well-written. As a biracial woman I realized mid-article where a lot of my treatment comes from.

Anyone who enjoyed this should read the new novel "White Roots" - it explores how society would be different if Africans had enslaved Europeans and is a fantastic book.

windy city girl said...

Searing. Really throws it all into sharp relief. And this shows how deeply these assumptions about femininity - who is feminine and who has value - are embedded in the cultural psyche.

Nicole said...

I think of the 13yr black girls who grow up dealing with this on a constant basis, who internalize it. And even worse, the grown black women who've normalized verbal abuse as a way of life as many of the psychological issues that develop from being constantly subjected to verbal abuse (I've read a strong connection between black and latino using food as a relief as extra weight they believe makes them 'less accessible' somehow in their neighborhoods, and therefore safer. That it's "unsafe" to be pretty and a woman of color).

I used to get sexually aggressive comments such as the above about 6 x a day in my old neighborhood, it's gone down to NONE in the two weeks since I've moved. And to think you know how many "progressives" and BM would call me a "sellout" for not sharing my resources and "sexually available" body with "our community" by living there. These same people who are RELATIVELY SAFE in comparison.

I grew up in the inner city and... wow. From 12 to 21, just walking from my house to the subway was a feat. No one -- especially not a CHILD -- should be made to feel afraid and ashamed simply for existing and having to walk somewhere.

I remember my mom telling me that I should "just smile and say hello back." Because otherwise, they might hurt me. Hearing her say that made me incredibly sad: it sounded like something my grandmother could have been told by her mother, about how to deal with white people in the Jim Crow south.

An entire group of people gets threatened on a day-to-day basis in the USA.
And nobody talks about it. Nobody gives a shit.

I've since moved to a much nicer place. And you're absolutely right that it's BM who resent me for it. The few that I see around here often express open disdain for my non-black boyfriend; they act as though someone has stolen something from them. (Because I was treated like such a precious possession before!) They act like I'm wrong for wanting to live in a place where no one shouts things about my body from every street corner.

Fuck. Them.

Ion said...

Nicole, you ROCK!

Thank you for coming by, I def agree with 100% of what you said and hopefully it's a NEW DAY for us and other younger BW and girls:

"No one -- especially not a CHILD -- should be made to feel afraid and ashamed simply for existing and having to walk somewhere."

Exactly! I remember as a child when we moved to the "Inner City" (I was about 11) these same idiots would stand on the corner, and yell comments about my body. If smiling would get them to stop, I would've done it to get them out of my face but it definitely did not. When I ignored them "FUCK YOU! you acne faced bitch!" (yeah, real nice to say to a teen who has body image issues). These men were between about 17-70. It wasn't just thugs. And it wasn't just the area. So what was it, what is it STILL? That was 14 yrs ago. Yesterday, I ignored one of them "you better be glad someone is talking to you you ugly bitch!" I know, i know, BW should just keep "waiting and waiting" for conditions to improve. Hmmm, lemme think of a better way... BAIL!!

If you can tell me how it's different, jim crow and black men getting lynched for not greeting whites with "Yessuh" and BW getting shot for not giving their "mastahs" their numbers, or white police officers shooting black men for not showing "respect", and how WE get tormented and assaulted for the same thing...!! As I'm saying it's entirely the same! Racial slurs and hatefilled sex speach about BW's bodies. And it STILL makes people uncomfortable across all stretches to discuss this behavior? WHY? Oh right, our rights don't matter. We're expected to deal with SO MUCH because of the skin color we're born with, to help, sacrifice, and keep plowing and plowing. NOPE. Our lives have value too.

"An entire group of people gets threatened on a day-to-day basis in the USA. And nobody talks about it. Nobody gives a shit."

I went to Egypt for a couple of months. And thinking about how foreigners were saying "these poor women have to wear all these clothes not to be harassed"...Sound familiar? The fact is that we're allowed less rights in public space than ALL OTHER AMERICANS. The fact that we're expected to wear more clothes than ALL OTHER AMERICANS, what does THIS mean, here and NOW, in 2010?

Ion said...

"The few that I see around here often express open disdain for my non-black boyfriend; they act as though someone has stolen something from them. (Because I was treated like such a precious possession before!)"

YEP! These are the same men that "warn us" about "fetishes", when they're not even interested in us. My question will always be, WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? You're not exactly "warning us" to stay away from thugs or unsafe neighborhoods, so what's your deal? I've heard it from numerous WM friends that BM who clearly HATE us, who make it common knowledge how undesirable we are, and the catty ww who revel in white female supremacy and chuck up racism against black women as "natural preference"...I've heard this as common behavior. But we're "not allowed" to talk about it? Like, whaaa? I've heard from WM firsthand (including my stepfather) that they were "warned" to stay away from BW (or passive aggressively suggested to "meet someone else" etc) to keep us ALONE. Why would a grown man "warn" or "whisper" in the ear of another man about a woman he does not want or better yet does not NEED? The answer is that they DO need us. Because we're silent and haven't demanded an existence seperate from theirs. Until we do, our rights will always be on the backburner because "we're all the same people". It is THEM that push this "black women have attitudes and ridiculous standard" LIE that basically means since we are "worth less" we should expect less and calls us "bitches" whenever we won't set ourselves up to be exploited. Hell, we deserve it right? No, it's NOT because ww are "submissive". WW have mothered plenty feminist movements, have demanded child support and made it law, have headed the pro-choice movement, and have encouraged standards of treatment, safety, etc., for themselves and their daughters. We haven't. And it shows.

We are meant to martyr ourselves for a "community" that encourages this behavior using us to support an agenda (black male racism) that was never really our problem to begin with. JUST LIKE they've proven racism against us is not THEIR problem. Throughout the history of the world, other martyrs get one thing. RECOGNITION FOR THEIR WORK, or else martyrdom would make very little sense wouldn't it? Even suicide bombers get more respect than the very BW who's sacrificed their youth, their resources, to "help" the very people that shoot us in the foot! It's like Frankenstein hating the master that created him. They want us ALONE because they don't want normal competition to cross our minds as it has for women of ALL other ethnicities to have standards. When I think about this very behavior targetted at innocent black girls who think they are nothing while the public watches and laughs and laughs, it makes me SICK. They don't even think we deserve to be loved by ANYONE. A basic human right. Because the more rights WE have, the less opportunities for them to exploit us if they need us "down the road" to ensure their own survival.

Fuck it, I say! Fuck it, and BAIL before it's too late.

Unknown said...

I'm new here but I would like to say...

Please, please publish this! It is very well written and I feel it should be shared. It made me sick to see that one woman said she became a little defensive throughout but later was caught up in her spirit. Anyhow!!! It's the reality that the majority does not want to realize. It's not because it does not exist, it's just because they do not care. As long as they are okay and no one is hurting them or their family, most of them are not concerned about minorities let alone black people. It's sad because we are all human and to pretend like racism does not exist and that there are not and have not been inequality throughout the years is ridiculous. Just because it's 2010 people think that racism no longer exists and that black people and black women in particular exaggerate the truth about their lives. Believe me, most black women I know work twice as hard to get what they want, but that's how we were taught. No one is going to do it for you, you have to do it for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I understand the point, really I do. But still I'm disappointed that the description of white and black women in this essay are simplistic and stereotypical. I'm a fair-skinned white woman, but I am not blonde or thin-lipped or flat-assed. I have a curvy body, soft facial features, full lips, and a rounded ass. Let's not divide groups up by reductive stereotypes, please.

As well, I understand that I am in a position of privilege as a white woman, but I have been physically assaulted on the streets several times. So, I don't quite buy that men see me as a fragile creature they daren't touch. One of the men who assaulted me was black, and I regularly face street harassment from black men. I've also been assaulted and harassed by asians, whites, and hispanics. How much of it is racial and how much of it is just men being hateful toward women? Who the hell knows?

RaQui said...

I felt my heart sink as I read this article. Yes, unfortunately, with the wealth of information out there on “race” being nothing more than a social construct and nothing to do with genetics or biology, it is still a hefty issue.

“White” and “black” are colors to me. I still wait for the day to see the “orange”, “blue”, and “green” people [and the Na’vi people of Pandora don’t count].

Then I took a step back and realized at where I am in my growth and development as an individual as compared to where everyone else is. It all boils down to context; it’s all about context. Unfortunately, this represents the greater context of society.

The beauty of it all, is that there’s an opportunity for ‘individuals’ to reach beyond all of this color and race crap, because that’s exactly what it is, a load of crap. We all see that it’s about control, so why not do the job to educate oneself to bring about change? Change starts from within, before it expands to without. It’s an existential issue more than anything, yet the main thing is to start with self. I was born into this crap but I took it upon myself to get out of it by doing my homework and educating myself. But for the collective conscious to make a shift in this paradigm, it has to start with personal intent and conscious effort as well as within the individual conscious.

I’m not ‘black’ because I’m neither a color nor do I play into the racial crap, nor am I an African-American because I wasn’t born in Africa and migrated to America. I’m a woman born in America with a mixed ethnic background [Native American, European and Caribbean ancestry – but humanity originated from Africa so what’s the point?]. If we want to get into classification which is more of a characteristic of human intellect more than anything else, there are those rich in melanin, and those with much less, and everyone in-between. Why’s that - because of geography. That’s a big ‘Duh’. Or has everyone forgotten about that FACT?

Many people can’t tell ‘what I am’ just by looking at me or wrongly make assumptions – I don’t fit in a ‘racial’ category because I don’t identify with a racial category and my way of being exists in the way I identify and carry myself. I’ve done my homework and studied well. This is demonstrated in my day to day living.

What’s needed is a lot of self-love, growth, and transformation. Forget about what everyone else is saying and doing and find your own truth. Be an individual of the Earth rather than that of a social construct that seeks to ‘divide and separate’. Get rid of the old and what doesn’t work, and create the new and what works best for YOU as an individual; once that is reached, a society that is more tolerant and open with be created.

But until then, you’ll have a rehashing of a lot of crap. That is something I tire of. Let’s move forward, not backward; and do so as a ‘human being’, not as one whom over identifies with social constructs and outdated beliefs. What does it mean to be human? Go do your homework.

Ion said...

"I'm a fair-skinned white woman, but I am not blonde or thin-lipped or flat-assed. I have a curvy body, soft facial features, full lips, and a rounded ass."

This is in response to you, and many other women who come here with this same script, so please excuse the length. With that being said, these monotonous comments will be posted at my discretion from here on out, as it takes the focus away from the subject at hand. I do not mind genuine critique, but I'm sorry, such comments are not only off topic but are outrageous and mildly offensive.

Not every white man is gorgeous, intelligent, prolific, or rich...But they STILL benefit from white supremacy, as even unattractive men benefit from patriarchy and I benefit from hetero privilege even though I'm unmarried. I've always identified as radical or anti-hierarchy. Without a doubt, the entire blog is about dismantling hierarchy, how sociological perception is connected to it, etc.,. You're simply not used to discussing white female privilege. Given that context, your first instinct is to find a crafty way to change the subject. The "We are all women" statement for example, simply does not work when two groups of women are treated oppositely, we must examine WHY. Why would I discuss white women then? I dunno, why do I go about discussing the urgency of the child abandonment rate for black women when I don't plan on procreating anytime soon? The question is, why should I NOT discuss this form of privilege?

A rich person benefits from class privilege likewise, whether or not they have "hard lives", and so forth. Yeah, I wish I might go to Barbados and claim I'm not privileged just for being American and having a US passport, whether or not I'm "treated" as an American here or not. But I've always made an effort to be very empathetic about various struggles, and it's always interesting when the people who have FAR MORE privilege fail to do the same. The issue is not how you "look" (even though aryan features when it comes to white women are undoubtedly tied to racist ideals of naziesque superiority, and if beauty privilege is at stake, it does make one superficial and easily threatened like many unchallenged WW ), but the privilege you do not see is what you are more likely to benefit from. There's nothing at all in my blog that is anti-white women, anti-black men, anti-white men, anti-gender or anti-straight people. It is anti-hierarchy, usually posing questions (not even making bold "fact statements") on why it's not acceptable to focus on the people who need it.

Yes you deal with harassment (which I certainly do not dispute as my white female friends are harassed by these men, and I understand the warped concept of masculinity regarding these men). I've never been physically assaulted or raped. Still, my point is that SPECIFICALLY we experience harassment more often and more brutally because of our skin color. We are expected to settle because we're less deserving of love than white women. Black women are routinely harassed, murdered, raped, abandoned with children, deemed undesirable, expected to serve as a financial basis for men, and taught to "sacrifice" to help criminals BECAUSE we are black women. Yeah, we are "all women" right? Then we should receive the same treatment. But we don't, because there's a fundamental difference in privilege between black women and white women.Here are some reasons why:

Ion said...

White women have publicly DEMANDED their safety be taken into consideration (and ALWAYS FIRST, even using stereotypes of white femininity to justify that it SHOULD be first), black women have never been allowed to. It makes people "uncomfortable" to even focus for 10 seconds on ending hate crimes and racism against black women. There's always "other issues to be taken into consideration" because black women are so hated our safety (OUR LIVES), are not important. Period. I didn't see the urgency of discussing white women, because men trip over themselves to protect white women and the VERY LAW is designated to help white women. White progressives often REFUSE to live in these same high crime neighborhoods black women are forced into due to segregation because they are allowed to acknowledge that their safety is important, while saying black women deserve it. Our lives and safety is NEVER public concern. Why aren't white women focusing on the safety of black women since "we're all women"?

What you, and those like you are essentially doing is the same as a white man venting on a forum about police brutality against black men who make up the majority of such cases by saying "well, I'm white. And I still get traffic violation tickets". There are plenty of men around the globe (men of color globally being the leaders of that pack) that value and speak about how blonds with blue eyes are more "valuable" to procreate with as though we're in the 1800s. It's because although colonial slavery has come in go, segregation has ceased to exist, and public opinion has swayed about racism against black men, we've NEVER discussed the racism of white women either gladly or naively benefit from. In general, white women I've come in contact with are not only NOT repulsed by such wax poetry about the great virtue of the aryan race (and why they are desired for being blond and blue eyed), but are FLATTERED by it. What would we call a white man that was "flattered" by a text book, scientific study, or the constant affirmation that they were ultimately "superior" because they were aryan, and that natural law selected them because of their superior blond hair and blue eyes? Yeah, consider it that way and it will make sense why your privilege SHOULD be discussed. MY question, again, why has it gone UNDISCUSSED for hundreds of years?

White female privilege, which white women indeed fight viciously to protect as all other oppressors is almost ALWAYS counteracted with the stereotype of their passivity and our aggressiveness to start. White women only learned that by being "fake" and "Super sweet" they could be protected in doing what they want to any woman of color they perceived as a threat because we're considered the opposite. I deal with this DAILY, and although I'm generally quiet and don't really care about what WW are doing, I am fully aware of it. This sociopathic behavior is often geared towards Women of Color who are deemed "cute" or whatever because our femininity is highlighted, which threatens institutionalized white femininity. White men were less threatened by black men who tap danced and threatened by those who were more masculine because of white patriarchy. This is why this behavior offends women of color. What do we call white men who are afraid or threatened by "certain BM" and sabotage black men by using stereotypes against them so they can remain in a superior position on the job, in the criminal justice system, or anywhere else? Riiiight.

Ion said...

I fully acknowledge that not all white women are shaped a certain way just as I acknowledge that there are black people with naturally light hair and light eyes.. I am discussing features ASSOCIATED with black and white women, and how stereotypes of these features are used to enforce these views of black womens bodies as the other; the "other" that deserves less in terms of how we're treated and perceived. The lie that actual breathing women deserve sexual aggression, hardcore unwanted sex, to be alone and unloved, intense labor, etc., says one thing: NOT. FULLY. HUMAN.. Given that socialization is a variable, I had to do a reverse analogy. That's a sure fire way to have people think about the socialization they cannot see. That's why Steinem was/is a genius.

Look above at the Women of Color from all over the globe of various ethnicities who've replied who are saying the same things. You can chuck mine up to stereotypes about being "bitter" and "jealous" about the good nature of white women who "can't help" but be naturally superior, but really, ALL these above women are lying? No. Sadly, this is the ONLY topic I can think of across the internet that focuses on white female privilege because of the protection of white women. You're just not used to it, and I'm sorry for the reality shock.


Unknown said...

Wow you schooled her. She will never type a word on a keyboard again. lol.

So eloquent and brilliantly stated...pretty much encapsulates my frustration and horror with the myopic views expressed by blog comments of all kinds.

I fail also to understand why we "black women" are not allowed/encouraged to talk about ourselves. Why must we talk about brunettes and gingers in this dichotomy blah blah blah. All straw man arguments deflecting from the point.

Anyway, I love your writing and I hope you publish. I am too tired to go in depth it's late, but this rocks!

Anonymous said...

Foremost I would like to thank the author for this amazing piece, it is a great eye opener for alot of people, as I have read most the comments. Although there is a point that desperately needs to be made in it's own right and not as a sidenote, regarding racism, sexism, feminism, and patriarchy. Role reversal serves as a effective tool to expose hypocricy, but as a practice it does not serve to make individuals equal. Dominator culture is the thing to point our collective fingers at, any institutionalized subjugation of groups of people should be abbored. Just as matriarchy would be as vulnerable to corruption as european patriarchy has proven to be. there was a great quote, the person's name escapes me at the moment, but it goes: Any woman who desires equality with man lacks ambition. When we allow ourselves to be made to feel inferior because of media or beauty standards, we've made the job of our oppressors easier for them because we are doing the work for them. Socio and economic access to resources is a different issue altogether, and does need to be adressed by institutions... But ladies, why on earth would we want a stupid brainwashed man who doesn't know a real woman when he sees her? Regardless of beauty standards? When they show their true brainwashed colors it does us a favor by letting us know not to waste our time or self worth on disingenuous people. Hope no one was upset by my words. Namaste sistahs!

Jellybean14 said...

This is really late to comment, but I had to reply. As a black woman nearing 30 living in the Uk and working in fashion I am really aware of the skewed white woman privilege. I have noticed it all my life. I have always socialised in mixed groups, I mean really mixed. From around the world, many ethnicities and men too! Ha ha. But always, always, I am considered " pretty or hot for a black girl" or "too much for me" or some other marginalisin BS.
Alienation, Your article is Brilliant, eloquent and spot on. and your subsequent expansions highly illuminating.
From my own experience I know I have to be twice as good, am given the "fuzzy end of the lollipop" and expected to be grsateful about it, deemed to be strong( read mule) and less in need of love and support, and not expected to have standards for myself and in a life partner- And this is from men of various races/ ethnicities, i'm an equal ops dater!
I've always known self respect is the key, and now I am looking for someone who has it in abundance too and so feels generous to give it out.Being a woc in the fashion industry is hard but survival and thrival starts with self respect and knowledge of blogs likeyours!
Keeep up the good work!!! :)

Anonymous said...

This is a such a great blog post. It shows so much of what I think a lot of people don't realize. It's sad to see the defensive reactions--you don't come across as attacking, just honest. I'm very sorry to read from your comments that white feminists have done so badly. I know it's not much coming from one person but I will keep trying to better.

You're such a clear and compelling writer--some other people mentioned this could be published soon, I hope it will. The world needs lots of writers who are willing to smack some sense into things so easily.


Unknown said...

"The "We are all women" statement for example, simply does not work when two groups of women are treated oppositely"

In addition to what you've said - brilliantly, by the way - the thing I hate about phrases like "we are all women" or "we are all people" is that the people saying them (usually white) don't realize that it's done to make US - all Peoples of Color - more like THEM, not THEM more like US. It is asking for our assimilation, to get rid of those "ethnic" things we do.

On another note: so so agree with you on the objectification. My cousin is mixed Asian with some Middle Eastern and a little Spanish and the catcalls she used to get (from everybody) did three things: 1) it made her drastically change her already conservative wardrobe to be as un-hip and unflattering as possible. 2) she's become really mean and distrustful of everyone. 3) she doesn't go out if she doesn't have to.

And you're right, no matter how many Women, and girls, of Color go through this it still isn't an issue among feminists. She and her friends (who are all either multi-ethnic or People of Color) had to form their own Women's Rights club because the one already established refused to discuss this since "it didn't affect all of them". It affected the majority but it didn't affect them all.

Anonymous said...

That was so hard to read since I am fit almost to the letter the type of women you were talking about-white women with blonde hair and blue eyes. I do have a bit of curl in my hair though. Having to imagine all the sexual stuff you talked about almost made me physically ill. I'm not trying to make you feel bad or anything, I just feel kind of helpless to do anything. I know you probably think i'm nuts but when I was young, i wanted desperately to look different because I hated looking like Barbie. I felt like I was a cookie cutter creation and everyone assumed I was some airhead. I thought what my black friends could do with their hair was the coolest thing (I still do to a large degree.) I think that the media has made being a woman painful regardless of your race. Either you are called inferior, or you are held to this unreal expectation of how pretty and skinny you should be. Regardless, this was a powerful article.

Anonymous said...

My ONLY problem with this article (as I do like it and think that it brings up a lot of very valid points) is all the absolutist statements. Maybe it is just the psych major in me but talking in absolutes kind of lowers your credibility. I have a problem when people attempt to speak for all of a group of people (whether that group is divided by race, wealth, gender, etc.). That just serves to perpetuate stereotypes on both sides of the issue.

Also, you have mentioned multiple times that we shouldn't engage in "oppression olympics" (which I agree with; trying to "outsuffer" those around you is not very constructive) but multiple times, you have shot down other women throughout this thread when they have tried to bring up their own instances with oppression which seems to be counterproductive with what you said regarding "oppression olympics."

Again, I really liked this article but you make a lot of absolutist statements that are simply not true for all black women, all white women, all women in general, etc.

Ion said...

"My ONLY problem with this article (as I do like it and think that it brings up a lot of very valid points) is all the absolutist statements. Maybe it is just the psych major in me but talking in absolutes kind of lowers your credibility."

Then as a psych major, you should also recognize that this article is posed as a hypothetical reality. It is also clear that I've not said "all", but spoke in general. Most Americans watch TV is a general statement, All Americans watch TV as a form of escapism is absolutist, even though I do believe MOST americans watch TV for this reason.

No one ever claims "The Oppression Olympics" when we speak of women in general, even if it doesn't apply to black women and is meant to apply to white women specifically. So I thought I'd do the same.

The only problem is that I couldn't include other women of color specifically because it wouldn't follow the flow of the article. And I have stated that I'd like to see this done for transwomen and other women of color, who at certain places in the article I did have in mind, and for the person who does so to post a link here.

Other than that, there are several sites (society in fact), that prioritizes the rights of white women. I will not apologize for focusing ever on the people who need it. Please go to the barrage of other sources for how white women are specifically oppressed. You will find a lot out there.


Anonymous said...

Thank you responding to my last comment. I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. You said, “Then as a psych major, you should also recognize that this article is posed as a hypothetical reality. It is also clear that I've not said "all", but spoke in general.” Well as the reader, I would have to disagree that you spoke in general; whether or not that was your intent is another story. I am not trying to attack you or your talent for writing; just simply trying to make a point that the way you wrote this might be a bit alienating (yes, I see the irony of using that word, considering your screen name) to some of your readers, which defeats the purpose of what you were trying to do with the article, which I assume (please correct me if I’m wrong) is to raise awareness of how often black women are disparaged in the media and life in general. If you alienate some of your readers and only speak to the readers that already agree with you, then what’s the point? Again, I agree with your sentiment; I just think the article (and your subsequent responses to readers) would be more effective if you spoke in a general sense, not in an absolutist sense.

Also, not sure why you assumed that I wanted an apology from you for “focusing on the people who need it.” Nowhere did I say you were wrong in writing your article or that your sentiments were wrong; all I was pointing out is that you could have a more effective means of putting your message out there. If you truly cared about the cause, you would take constructive criticism and not get so defensive. Best wishes.

Also, just out of curiosity, why did you assume that I wanted to go check out sites that deal with the oppression of white women? Nowhere in my previous comment did I say that I was preoccupied with white women oppression nor did I say anything that would indicate that I was seeking out equal coverage for white women...

Ion said...

"Also, just out of curiosity, why did you assume that I wanted to go check out sites that deal with the oppression of white women?"

Well, that's the assumed solution, as when we say "all women" then that usually constitutes white women, but when we deal with black women, or other women of color's specific experiences we're "alienating people". I mean, I really don't know what else to tell you other than that I choose to deal with the specific issues of women of color. And to go elsewhere if you want an "all inclusive" (meaning white) blog dedicated to "all women" (meaning white women, or at least, meaning white women shall come first as though this is some sort of natural order).

I'm not assuming you're white, as so many white women have come here saying "wow, I've never thought about this specific oppression" because I dealt with specifics. Lots of people have heard this from dealing with "women in general". "Women joining the workforce" does not make sense because black, mexican and foreign women of various ethnicities have always, been in the workforce, for example. Or "women have issues with being perceived as vulnerable and virginal", when black women have never been considered so.

"If you truly cared about the cause, you would take constructive criticism and not get so defensive. Best wishes."

Sorry this is the same ol' song from people who post anonymous at that, who likely don't have their own blog or who aren't really doing anything otherwise for "the cause". And it's a real sense of entitlement and a christ complex I might add, to claim someone isn't doing something "for the cause" because you disagree with their solution when you've provided no alternative. I mean, I do this to liberals, but I also provide an alternative.

In any event, I have taken constructive criticism in above comments, and continue to do so. But I'm not changing the focus of this article to be more "general" and "vague" to make people more comfortable with its content. I focused specifically on black women in this article for a reason, because we're deemed opposite of white women.


Anonymous said...

I found your article through a link on the Economist website, believe it or not (from a comment in the recent Lexington article).

I'm what most people would think of as a "white guy", although if pressed for color I'd say I'm "pale orange", and if pressed for race I'd say "human" (what my wife and I added to our marriage certificate, since it wasn't an option). So I may not be qualified to comment, but what the hell...

I think you've written a very powerful article. Most folks who are privileged take that privilege for granted (myself included). And we need to be reminded of it.

I'm not qualified to speak for people who have been oppressed (having never been, myself), but my sense is that there may be some symmetry.

People who are oppressed need to be reminded that they don't deserve it, that they are every bit as human and deserving as those who were lucky enough to be born white, male, rich, whatever.

Every human deserves respect, and no human deserves to be stereotyped and generalized into some cartoon. Mass media makes this difficult, of course, which is why blogs such are yours are so important.

Thank you for a thought provoking article that, while perhaps uncomfortable at times, is spot-on. I'll certainly share it with friends, family, and colleagues. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hi I read your article and wow, it makes points that can't be denied, i wanted to let you know that I've linked the page to

hopefully its okay, if its not let me know

Ion said...

By All means! Feel free to re-post one and all!My only request is that when copy-pasting to insert the link to this post. :-P

Rock on,


Lain said...

Amazing, brilliant, someone posted this on another site, I'm glad or else Id have never read it, just wow.
Everyone on the planet should read this.

girlfromthenc said...

Great article! I was more moved than when I'm reading the bible........seriously!

One complait however.......

I noticed a lot of the discussion is about why Alienated did not include other "women of color" in the article (ie latina,arabs, asians, Indians etc). As a proud AA woman I must ask "why the hell should she?

When Jennifer Lopez and Vida Guerra are all over television as "spicy latinas" and not to mention "The most sexiest women" in Black men's magazine's (ie King and Black men) have you ever heard them ever stopand acknowledge THATtinas" are a mixed people that get their nice shape from their AFRICAN ancestors (women) that were raped during slavery/colonization in their country? I've never heard a single Latina remind a Black man about Black women being "curvy" too when when they are foaming over the mouth for them.

Ditto with Asian and other "women of color". Asian women have become the new status symbol for men who can't get a white woman! Especially in California, the same place Black women are literally spit on FOR BEING Black! Do you ever hear Asian women (your so call sisters of color) reminding any men that there are plenty of nice, smart and beautiful AA women that are just as deserving of the love and attention that they are getting? No. I didn't think so. They vast at the attention and often believe they are secretly MORE desireable than ANY Black woman, even if they are "lower" than a Blond.

This same senario can be played out with any "woman of color" (our so call sisters in oppression my ass). The truth be told, it doesn't matter how low, how poor, or how ugly any non-black woman is she is taught that she is SUPERIOR to blacks, as well as black women, and the MEN in her culture are hell bent on protecting her: the lowest and even darkest women in their race! Black men don't feel this sort of obligation! And this is why every other race looks down on him as a man, and think their daughters (hell even whores of their race) are too good for him.

To be short and sweet, I'm tired of all the Mammy like Black women everywhere always worrying about everybody but HER DAMN Self. Even though she, and she alone, is at the very bottom of society! Hell, black females aren't even considered women in America! Surely someone else has noticed that Black men are allowed to be dark, kinky haired and flat nosed and considered handsome =but a Black woman with those same features are considered ugly, mean and manish. If this is normal then why are both White males and Females still both desired if special features are suppose to be EXCLUSIVE to men or women? And why is Megan Fox, and Angelina Jolie celebrated for having Black women's "ugly" "broad" features?

I honestly think its some kind of gene, no SICKNESS, that keeps AA women from actually loving their DAMN SELF. They simply have been conditioned for too long to see themselves as loveable. And the very reason women on this board keep on bringing up the treatment of other women of color, is because they don't think that THEIR OPPRESSION ALONE, is worthy enough to be addressed!!!! Afterall, if a black girl feels "ugly" or self concious of her hair or skin, she should rightfully so since MOST black women arent' that attractive after all...........but if a latinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa feels ugly, then that's a REALLLLLLLL Tragedy b/c they are in fact beautiful "off white" women.

Pure bullshit.

girlfromthenc said...

No race of men have been taught that Black women should be respected and pampered. Not a one. So all these AA women on dating sites looking for their White knights should keep this in mind! I find that I find better men, when I'm not looking. I also have found, through countless testimonals on blogs, message boards and websites similar to this one ((which is awesome and invalueable by the way)is that White men and others judge Black women by a totally different standard completely! As Alienated has so craftfully pionted out we are judge on the "white" scale. Whiteness NOT BEAUTY being the measure of attractiveness!

I don't know how many websites I have gone to lately where I have seen/heard educated, attractive Black women complain how few hits they have recieved on dating sites. They were also astonished at how many hits their white and asian counterparts recieved, especially since they were generally far LESS attractive. When confronted with these obvious facts men grudgly admitted that they just "weren't attracted to black women" or only met "1 or 2 black women that they would date" their entire lives! Even though I don't agree with these answers (b/c of the various contradictions ie Megan fox and Angelina Jolie), I have learned that they are apart of life. However I won't ACCEPT them either because of the evidence I have seen else where.

Case in piont. I have a sister that frequently visits Craigslist and browses the dating sections! No surprise that most of the White men are asking for White or Asian women and most of the Black men are asking for White or Hispanic women. But what she didnot expect, was when she checked the "Causual Encounters" section and saw the disproportiate number of wm looking for ebony girls (always with some vulgar comment about "tasting" the woman). Mind you most of these men were in their late 30's and and 40's. But as my sister pionted out, many were young men in their early 20's. Why couldn't these men find Black GIRLFRIENDS if they were that fasinated by Black women?

Of course it all goes back to perceived worth and femiminity! White being the gold standard of worth of course. And although these men had CLEARLY met Black women that they were attracted to (if they weren't attracted to Black women, then their dicks would never get hard in bed and sex would never happen. lol), but White female hierachy ruled! The message: no matter how mean, ugly, fat, plain faced or BAD IN BED a White woman is, she STILL DESERVED RESPECT AND TO BE TREATED LIKE A LADY (ie girlfiend not just causual encounter material). I was sickened by MORE bad news for us.

I would recommended that since most men are supposely not attracted to black women, black women should not worry about their color or hair any longer! Go natural. Start working out and worry about YOUR OWN HEALTH, get manicures and petticures every month. Start worrying about your damn self since you will be inevitably alone the rest of your life! Take better care of yourself so it can be a LONG LIFE!

I have found through internet research, that although no one cares about black womens feelings or misery everyone else in the social hiearchy also DEPENDS on her misery for their well being! White women (and other non-black women) need black women to be the mammy/supportive friend so she can vast in all the glory and attention. Black men need Black women on standby just in case, the White girls at the frat party decide that fucking black men is no longer cool! White males (and other no-black men) like to see Black women as undesirable as well, b/c it decrease the chances of her getting fucked and reproducing competition for them (ie black and mixed males) that are considered sexually more inept than themselves!

girlfromthenc said...

One more piont, I'm on a ranting rampage! I am a bit worried about this new idea the media is promoting about the solution to all Black women's problems (as opposed to SELF LOVE) is interracial dating (specifically white men). Although there are certainly Robert Dinero's out there, truth be told MOST white men are NOT! Most non-black men are not in general! Because Black men hate themselves, their race, their culture and disrespect their women/mothers does NOT mean other men do or will........not even for the sake of lonley Black women (as protrayed on television). It might be a hard pill to swallow, but it is like a truth serum.

And I absolutely hate this media promotion of Black women as 'desperate' undesirable women. It makes women panic, and accept any man and let him do anything to her in the hopes that he will have her. I think that is what is happening today with inner city young Black girls. I can remember my mother and aunts warning me that men (speaking of ALL men) "just wanted me for sex, and don't be a fool and give it to them". However there were never any discussions about ME being TOO-GOOD for certain types of men, me being too pretty to touch, me being a princess period (other races of women group up hearing these types of things). It makes a big difference, it really does!To make matters worst Black boys are not brought up to think you are suppose to pamper and care for a women, especially their OWN women. They only see White men (and other races) pampering their women and their daughter and come to believe that these non-black women are the ones that deserve RESPECT LOVE AND MARRIAGE. When these young black teens finally met boys that tell them they are pretty, or have a nice body or the only girl they desire quite naturally they are flattered by it. Heck they have never heard it before. If someone is that nice to you, you generally try to repay them and keep them around too. Of course this payment always equates to sex (when a black woman is beautiful and has a nice body people are programed to think about fucking/her being a freak her as opposed to an attractive white woman who people automatically think of a beautiful). The girl eventually ends up having sex at a very young age, against her mother's wishes and eventually becomes pregnant. The guy moves on to another 'pretty girl with a nice body' and this girl is stuck with a baby. Of course everyone tries to demonize the girl ALONE as being sexually hot and WANTING a baby to keep a man. The media and everyone will try to say she's ghetto and a welfare queen and remind us that other races of women dont have 'out of wedlock babies'. Never, and I mean never do they look at the BIG picture.

Danila said...

girlfromthenc, I feel you in everything you said. I don't want to attack or offend anybody but I do get tired of holding it all in and trying to be strong. I know this piece isn't meant for therapy, but I just have to get some things off my chest. So many things have come to min as a result of this piece.

The first thing I thought about is my own social situation. I'm 28, black female, single of course (as are most of the black women I know around my age). I spent years pining after white men. Finally one of them told me straight out that he was interested because he heard black girls have "big holes". Even the nice ones would have never brought me home to mama. I've been told that I'm "too much". I realized I could not be compatible with them and would have a hard time trusting one. Years of exposure to white men's true feelings on the internet have turned me off even more. Black women aren't even desired in porn. Yes I have gone to porn sites and read the racist comments on videos of black women. Even while they're getting off they still hate us.

I used to think I was completely undesirable because white men didn't want me, but then I thought about all the black men who let their desire be known through their catcalls, the stalking, the propositions. Even though I am the opposite from the standard of beauty (dark brown skin, kinky hair, fat body, I look like a mammy basically), these men made me feel "wanted". But it still wasn't good enough. I mean, it didn't feel like love, you know? Especially when they turn on you so quick and become violent. Yet I have been conditioned to feel so bad for my "black brothers" and their plight. So I have to be invisible?

Now my social life has really suffered, sorry to say. Even my friendships with other women have suffered. One friend has multiple kids by multiple men. She's sweet, intelligent, beautiful, good-natured. She thought they loved her. Of course they refused to marry her. And no woman ever wants to say it was a mistake because we feel so proud of our children. It hurts me to talk to her.

But then there's my other girlfriend who is perpetually single and perpetually looking, ever since her white husband unceremoniously dumped her (and his racist family welcomed him back into the fold). One guy after another, black, white, hispanic, she doesn't care. None of them even come close to loving her, much less wanting anything long-term. I am so tired of talking with my friends about men. Now I don't want to talk to anybody anymore. There's never anything good to say. For some of us, there are the lost dreams of marriage. For others, the lost dreams of children. For all, the lost dream of being beautiful.

I look at my young cousin. She's already had several abortions, and I'm almost certain she will end up with a few kids by different dads when all is said and done. On the surface, she fits the stereotype of the sassy, stronger-than-strong, hypersexual, hard-partying black girl. But if you read her Facebook updates you see that with each of these men, she thinks he really loves her. She's so excited about her latest "fiance". One day she'll probably settle for being a baby mama. People think she's just slutty, that we black women are just like that.

Whether you're a sexless mammy like me, or oversexed jezebel like my little cousin, in the end it all adds up to the idea that we black women aren't worthy of love (that highest of human ideals). If we're not worthy of love, then we're not worthy of justice, or mercy, or recognition, or forgiveness. We're not fully human.

And the worst thing is everyone thinks we can just take it.

girlfromthenc said...


(sorry I know this isn't a message board)

But through the internet I realize this is how a lot of Black women feel, unwanted and unloved. And what I'm realizing more and more that it is GLOBAL. Every black woman, in every country seems to feel this way. Other dark skinned women of other races (although they are not considered as beautiful as their lighter skinned counterparts), still don't face what Black women face because 1.) Everybody but Black people have a culture in place that "protects" their women and VALUES them!

I think the solution per say, is US (black women)and how we are raising our children especially our sons! Since most Black children are born out of wedlock, then why aren't we black women doing more to instill our own beauty and culture in our own kids that we are raising alone? I think a lot of us not doing it is because we sit around feeling sorry for ourselves! The media, has done a great job of telling us we are less desireable than white women or any other woman! Look at how we view Black single mothers vs. Angelina jolie. 50% of marriages in America end in divorce so half of American children are raised without their fathers in their home anyway?! So why are women like your friend looked down upon like they are nasty or somehow different??? Because she is BLACK...........

I think all Black women worldwide will continued to be treated like this until we put our foot down, and start raising better sons! The only problem is soooooooooo many of us are so busy "looking for a man" that we don't have time to actually find ourselves and figure out what we want! I asked myself the other day "what exactly is wrong with being single" or "by yourself" if you are a black woman. This seems to be our greatest fear and the driving force why we'll accept anything in any man!

Once I asked myself this I realized nothing. And I'm 27 years old, and just started going back to school again. When I was honest with myself, I realized I was never satisified nor happy with any men that I had ever dated. Heck, I've never even had an organism with a man! So why was I so worried if guys found me attractive? I realized it was stupid! I actually LOVE being single now. I really do. I don't worry about shaving my legs as much, or a guy seeing me with my hair wrapped up at night, or who's using me for sex! Its a freedom that calms me. I would like to find more women friends though. I think that's when you really feel lonely and unloved, when you don't have girlfriends shoulders to cry on! hugs girl!

Anonymous said...

This was just amazing. I'm really glad to see all the positive comments from various people of different backgrounds and color. You really made an excellent point and I think anyone with a brain stem can understand and appreciate the things you're saying. Keep up the great work.

Malena said...

this is an absolutely amazing article

Lab Rat said...

Such a great post. Made me think, made me feel, made me see things I never had before. The world needs more great feminists like you and more great articles like this. Thank you :)

Mystia said...

This was awesome.

I read "If Men Could Menstruate" before. It was really powerful stuff. But this was like the missing link in the chain for me. I have always wondered why we were considered unfeminine. There is evidence that supports that the notion that white women are the ideal of femininity is based on science, and not in conditioning. But there is also evidence that says the contrary. The most desired figure is the hourglass figure. I read somewhere that black women are more likely to have this than are white women. Also, women with a waist-hip ratio of 0.6-0.7 are more desired across the globe--black women are more likely to have that ratio than are white women. Why are our features considered "strong," when in some ways, white female features are just as strong (as you have mentioned in your essay)? You are right--the "fact" that white women are more beautiful than black women is not a fact. It took me so long to figure out that my skin is a protective force from harmful ultraviolet rays, my flat nose and large lips are just a flat nose and a set of large lips, and that my kinky hair is one of the most versatile types in the world. There is no *rational* reason to feel inferior, and that makes me feel better, regardless of whether or not "the rest of the world" subscribes to that ideal.

Anonymous said...

this is beautiful

but i cant help feeling that there is an underlying issue present:

"In ghettos across America, men would stand on street corners and yell “Damn! You got a flat ass!” to remind white women of their sexual status in society."

"Upper class women would be afraid that their “asses looked flat” "

"Republicans would ban abortions to protect the virtue of pure, black motherhood and liberals would advocate increasing the number of abortion clinics in “low income” neighborhoods where white women would be the majority..."

that issue is class! and the hierarchy system of america


i definitely feel that femininity is defined by the corporate world of white couples making love on a silk bed only after the white female has applied her timid body lotion "for fair skin" or after she seductively showers revealing her frail silhouette clad in a neautragena exfoliated scrub but...

i do see that feminism is universal and a thing of equality why would one woman make another feel inferior?

it is at the fault of the masculine mind frame that this society is torn even when joined by the strongest thread-womanhood

the word WOMAN weather black white arab indian norweigan russian...

i am a biracial woman who is criticized everyday

because of my appearance-race-size-political views

and i too feel inferior because i am labeled

and this point is extremely valid and will ring true until the end of media and the power of the right hand

but i feel that this issue this,

"if black women were white women"

is just another way of the government separating a group of people who are reaching for the same goal

it can be compared to hoover black mailing mlkjr to keep quiet because of the "photos" he had on him

not saying anything negative about a man of peace

you cant put a hold on the revolution to make sure that you take care of your own first
when we are all in it together
thats the kind of racist mind frame that leads nowhere

you are just letting the corporate world define you and the people instead of leading them to freedom from that very oppression they despise

unless the point is to have the media play to black woman to actually have a male-white at that,tell a young black female that she is to use such and such product and only purchase this phone because say beyonce uses it? it should be a matter of oppossition because of the hold they have on young women regardless of race

i did thoroughly enjoy the article and sent it to many friends

blessings and love to you
fight the fight

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