To go back into the women’s rights movement in the Western world historically, there has ALWAYS been a breach along ethnic lines. That is the truth regarding any honest analysis of the situation. In order to give it some context, we need look no further than the white women who spurred the women’s rights movement in the United States during the eighteenth century and their collective inability to acknowledge the suffering of black women at the hands of white men that was along ethnic lines. This is best illustrated in the presence of Ida B. Wells and her crusade against lynching, something that affected and was used to control black women as well as men. Yet, there was never any open support of her crusade nor black women as a selective group and the crimes against them that were inclusive of being both women and non-anglo. As there was wanton rape of black women and non-anglo women in general by white men during that time which was in accordance with the ethnic domination and patriarchy of that day (which continued as the norm until fairly recently and still present today we might add), there was NEVER any acknowledgement that non-anglo women face an INCREASED amount of subjugation in comparison to white women due to the fact that they lived in a white supremacist system where gender is secondary to being White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
Over the many, many decades since the Western women’s movement begin in the nineteenth century, there has been little betterment in regards to the acknowledgement that white supremacy is a reality and a part of the overall oppression of women. It hasn’t happened in regards to their plight then or now. This is not to dismiss any number of atrocities that white women have faced in this patriarchal system, but their inferior position has ultimately been at the behest of the sole continuance of white male supremacy and dominance. That has been the impediment of white women reaching equality in this world (of which “equality” in regards to gender lines needs to be fully defined in a way that is universal in nature and not just a Western standard, which is what it is today). So, while white women have INTRA-racial domination, non-anglo women have always had to deal with INTRA-racial domination and INTER-racial domination by white men, with the latter being more of an issue than the former. It is granted that Indigenous men the world over have practiced patriarchy and misogyny to varying degrees, but the INTER-racial dominance of white men as a collective has always been a perpetual fear that was many times enacted on Indigenous women in addition to the vagaries that come along with just being a women in this world. Hence, their ethnicity compounded their problems while there was always some alleviation of white women’s problems at some juncture due to their shared ethnicity and heritage with white men.
Presently, we must ask this question after this long sordid history of Western domination that has essentially seen it control the entire world (which it still does presently): How are we going to stop non-anglo women from being taken advantage of in this socio-economic system when white women benefit more now from this set of living circumstances more than their counterparts?…By any measurable you want to use, white women lead much more improved lives than any other group of women on this planet. This is entirely due to their ethnicity. There are an ample amount of tales of woe on the white female side, but that doesn’t negate the norm. In comparison, there are any number of black men who hold prominent positions in the United States, but that doesn’t belie the normative aspects of their collective existence at the lowest rung of the social order when it comes to incarceration, unemployment, homelessness and innumerable other forms of disenfranchisement. So, you can always point to individual cases of good and bad, as there were even individual cases of black and African “success stories” even during the height of African chattel slavery across the globe. However, primacy must always be placed on the worst of conditions that the majority face every day. Therefore, it is impossible to fairly equate the enrichment of Oprah Winfrey and extrapolate that to encompass all black women, the same way that you can’t take a white woman who is living in comparable horrid conditions as a First Nations woman and look at it as normal circumstances for white women in the Western world.
What people need to understand is that patriarchy and misogyny became the primary forms of global dominance over the intervening centuries from the European invasion, which began approximately 500 years previous to now. In basically commandeering the entire globe, whiteness (something that was wholly defined and embraced by Europeans as a reason for their NATURAL right to dominate the entire world) replaced patriarchy and misogyny in the daily lives of everyone on Earth. As such, this change in the global social order made white women as a group complicit in subjugation, even over other women. Hence, the historical record has been one of white women being complicit in the crime of ‘racial’ domination, which put them as enemies of other women as they put their gender in deference to their ethnicity. That is just an objective reality.
And to go even further to the extremities of Western culture and how the immersion of people along ethnic lines is skewed towards the continuation of white domination, the assimilation of non-anglos over the centuries has ultimately led non-anglo women to be fully supportive of dominating other non-anglo women at the behest of white supremacy. So, be it the conservative Condoleezza Rice or the liberal Susan Rice, non-anglo women are just as guilty in thinking of themselves as a part of the Western standard, which is to see the typical non-anglo woman as being lesser than themselves due to their acceptance of the superiority of whiteness. Therefore, these women have no qualms about agreeing with Madeline Albright that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth it to conquer that country. As a result, these non-anglo women will commit the same atrocities as their white female counterparts since the only victims of this state violence by the Western world will always include non-anglo women and children. This is no different than say non-anglo female police leading their non-anglo to a prison cell domestically, which is happening in increasing numbers.
In conclusion, there has been no honest discussion of straight universal principles to address the inequalities of non-anglo women with white women due to ethnic reasons, with suggestions of how this equality is to be achieved at a state, regional and local level across the globe. In order to do that, the leaders of these marches must be willing to be on TOTALLY equal footing with their non-anglo female counterparts in the Western world domestically as well as those in the Global South. The terms of revolution can’t be dictated by the same people who benefit in some degree to the status quo and only want to reform it to their particular benefit and not deal with the problems that are plaguing their supposed allies. Hence, until Western women want to deal with the Indonesian woman in the sweatshop making her shoes where the victim is paid pennies to feed herself and her family as well as be forced to have sex with one of the male managers (nothing but rape) to keep her job, then this is nothing but caterwauling about personal aggrievement by white women. And as this Western standard is wholly unattainable for non-anglo women in whatever place on Earth (and even becoming more precarious for white women in the Western world), there can be no honest dialogue between the women of the Western world (primarily white women) and those residing in the nether regions of the Global South who will never have access to the resources available which give white women their privileged lifestyles in comparison. Therefore in regards to the oppressed non-anglo woman in this world, it isn’t the female comrade next to her in the fields that is the enemy. It is the typical western white woman who goes to the grocery store or her corporate job and continues her privileged lifestyle everyday who is her enemy, since one’s comfort is entirely dependent on the other’s domination in toiling in those fields. Solidarity can’t be reliant on the convenience of its participants or lack thereof.
Ultimately, until white women as a group (which has spearheaded this movement) want to deal with the historical and present day contributions to the domestic and global subjugation of non-anglo women, of which they have systemically caused and benefited to varying degrees through their willing participation, then this “revolution” can best be described as a grandstanding show of outrage based upon gender upon gender being the primary component of white women’s collective oppression while denying the privilege they receive based off their ethnicity.
Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the CIA:
[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Risingand Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]
[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas. He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]