White feminism and predictable journalism

Feminism is not All White

I wanted to highlight this post on the Black Feminist blog, written in response to a recent Guardian article about feminist activists in Britain (‘Feminists hail explosion in new grassroots groups’).

As Adunni Adams points out, the Guardian article in question completely fails to highlight any activism by anyone else than young white and privileged women and men:

I assumed the inclusion of the phrase ‘feminists who do not fit easily into stereotypical moulds’ would lead to some mention of those organisations which do not fit into the white, middle-class heterosexual stronghold which has come to typify the feminist movement. As I continued reading, I assumed the scope of the article would include the Black, Working-Class, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender feminist organisations, most of which are not new, and most of which have so far managed to escape the attention of commentators on feminism.

The announcement that something (or anything) is happening at the grassroots level of the feminist movement – not to mention the fact that the movement has caught the attention of the mainstream media – could, and should, have reflected the true strength of the movement in its depth, dynamism and diversity at all levels.

The author of the original Guardian article, has responded in the comments section, saying she didn’t have enough time to find people, nobody put themselves forward to be interviewed, and that she didn’t have enough space to cover everything – including as part of her defense links to articles she has written about ‘BME’ women’s issues. Anyone familiar with histories of racism and anti-racist challenges within white-dominated feminist movements will know such arguments form a familiar refrain which evades accountability.

Part of my research has included looking at 50+ articles in The Guardian (and its Sunday version The Observer) on the topic of feminism, looking specifically for race. From this I can say, without doubt, that this article is not an unfortunate anomaly. White, privileged feminism is the norm within the Guardian’s coverage of feminism. Although occasional feminists of colour are included, the representation of British feminist activism past and present is overwhelmingly white.

Here’s some examples from over the years (and I could have added more) – notice the patterns?

Feminism today: While we were shopping… (2002)

University challenge (2007)

How far have we come in 80 years? (2008)

Time for a good scrap about what our feminism really is (2009)

Forty years of women’s liberation (2010)

Feminism is back and we want to finish the revolution, say activists (2011)


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