Profs: 'White,' 'elite' feminists perpetuate 'colonial' idea of womanhood

Two college professors recently collaborated to write a book discussing the harmful nature of white women within the feminist movement. They argue that “elite women” harm the feminist movement with their “monolithic” and “colonial” definition of what it means to be a woman, making the movement “exclusive.”

Professors Noelle Chaddock and Beth Hinderliter dive into the culture of feminism to determine how and why so many feminists are, by default, “White Feminists,” that ultimately harm the movement. 

The book’s publisher describes Antagonizing White Feminism as a work that “pushes back” against the “exclusive” nature of “women-centered” academia, which supposedly creates “barriers by narrowly defining who can participate.”

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The book argues that “elite women who are unwilling to do the necessary emotional work around their privilege” too often co-opt “intersectional feminism,” creating a “heteronormative cisgender, colonial idea of women.” The authors contend that those concerned with keeping certain spaces specific to women, do a disservice to feminism by making it less “inclusive.”

The authors argue that feminism must include “Trans Women, Femmes, Women of Color, Queer Women, Gender Variant, and Gender Non-Conforming scholars,” in order to “disrupt the exclusionary basis of monolithic understandings of the feminine.”

Chaddock is the current vice president of equity and inclusion at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She has held previous administrative positions at Rhodes College in Memphis Tennessee and the State University of New York College at Cortland. Hinderliter is the Associate Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She teaches Women’s and Gender Studies, Art History, and Africana Studies. 

In the opening of their book, the professors first mention “white feminism” in the context of “allies” The term ‘ally’ is used commonly on college campuses across the nation. It is designed to describe those who support groups such as women, people of color, or the LGBTQ community but do not necessarily belong to the community themselves.

While allies are generally considered to be a positive influence, these professors suggest that white feminists are no true “ally” of feminism. In reference to a related book the professors wrote together, the book explains that “allies rely on, require even, the continued oppression of their ally-subject.” 

Included in the professors’ criticism of “White Feminism” is their concern about the effect that white women, in particular, had on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. 

The book asserts that the Trump administration is “particularly anti-women” and “certainly anti-feminist,” and goes on to suggest that Donald Trump was elected in part because because “white women were and continue to be willing to vote against their and their daughters’ self-interest to serve the racist and xenophobic ends of the Trump Administration.”