Quote from a very interesting article linked in an Open Thread (hat tip to Matthew Swank):
I also said that [the documentary] marginalizes MOC because for example, the women make 70-something cents per dollar thing (that white feminists *always* use) is white women to white men. Black men, for example, make less than white women. And black women make even less than that. And this can really be applied to a lot of situations where white women have privilege over MOC. And then WOC are even less privileged than that. But white feminism erases the plight of MOC.
Economic inequality is one of the ways in which oppression is the most clearly unidirectional. Holding all other things equal, it is easier to be rich if you’re born in the professional class as opposed to the working class, white as opposed to a person of color, male as opposed to female. Obviously, there are a lot of people who are white men who end up broke, but if you’re a white man who grew up in a middle-class or wealthy family, you have a lot more options and opportunities than other people have, and it is easier to be one of the One Percent (still not easy, of course).
Of course, that’s when we fall into intersectionality.
Ozy’s Law (dude, it feels so weird to cite my own law) states that most forms of modern gendered oppression are bidirectional: that is, anything that oppresses one gender also oppresses another gender (although perhaps one may suffer more). However, because of intersectionality, even things that don’t oppress one gender more than another on aggregate may oppress members of one gender more than another. For instance, economic inequality. A middle-class white woman will likely make less money than a middle-class white man (partially because of the expectation that women do childcare); however, a poor black man will make far less money than her.
Of course, the feminist movement might quite rightly point out that it is primarily concerned with gender, and while fighting against racism is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, perhaps the anti-racists should be left in charge of it. Which is true! But the problem is that, given the nature of privilege, if we want to talk about economic inequality between men and women, unless we pay attention to the racial and class dimensions, we’ll end up talking about economic inequality between white, upper-middle-class men and white, upper-middle-class women.
That is hardly our most pressing topic.
Admittedly, there are a lot of reasons why white feminists don’t talk about race. I don’t talk about race a whole lot myself: I am continually afraid that I will end up saying something mistaken or out-of-touch or disingenuous-liberal-y, and so I end up saying not much of anything at all. But the problem with not saying much of anything at all is that you erase the very real struggles men of color experience with economic inequality.
Also, seriously, can we stop with the “men make more money than women” thing? White men tend to make more money than white women, who make more money than black men, who make more money than black women. And yet whenever the wage gap comes up people think you’re talking about gender. Christ.