Fuckboys and White Feminism
By Nadia Nadesan
White feminism is a constant spectre in the room haunting the edges of your reading group, expanding in the center of a potluck, swinging from the chandelier at any charity event. And it has been here and recognized as white feminism for a while. In the seminal work This Bridge Called My Back you only need read chapter three ‘And When You Leave Take Your Pictures with You’ to realize that many of the emotional, psychological and relationship issues we face with white feminists and white feminism have been here for at least the past 50 years. Rather than be taken aback or surprised, perhaps now we should not necessarily accept that it will continue but create new tools to encounter what is a pretty old and consistent pathology (a pathology I argue intersects with a lot of fuckboyery). In a time when self care is also read as a political act of preservation, perhaps it’s time to rethink how we want to deal with the ghost of second wave feminism’s past (though honestly it started long before that).
Audre Lorde is famous and featured in feminist spaces for saying:
Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an act of political warfare.
But she also said the following in a letter to Mary Daly in 1979:
I have decided never again to speak to white women about racism. I felt it was wasted energy, because of their destructive guilt and defensiveness, and because whatever I had to say might better be said by white women to one another, at far less emotional cost to the speaker, and probably with a better hearing. This letter attempts to break this silence.
I would like not to have to destroy you in my consciousness. So as a sister Hag, I ask you to speak to my perceptions.
Whether or not you do, I thank you for what I have learned from you.
This letter is repayment.
So while the need to reclaim care as political imperative might be broad, how we attend to and check ourselves and our communities is context specific.
As a post grad and child of the internet I’ve come to the following conclusions via Venn Diagram. Ultimately, it is a breakdown of a certain degree of heartache and toxicity.
After spending a little time online I’ve realized that part of healing from a relationship with a fuckboy is recognizing what a fuckboy is and accepting that you’ve dated a fuckboy. It relieves you of the anxiety of all kinds of circles you may be going in to explain and understand your relationship or non relationship. It also takes away a little pressure when you can see your experience as part of a larger whole.
So if your interaction with white feminism has got you feeling twisted, you’re not alone and it’s been a thing for a while.
But in the end, the main message about coping with a fuckboy is not to fuck with them ever, at all, anymore — for your health along with rebuilding your self confidence and surrounding yourself with people who remind you that you’re cared for.
Does that then mean that we leave white feminism in the dust? Yes. How to do that within feminist spaces and within a larger movement is another question. A question that requires listening, caring, learning, humility, and a whole lot of other things like managing white fragility, defensiveness, guilt etc. etc. It’s work. No fuckboy steps their game up without some real work.
Ultimately, the imperative for doing this work is that ‘white feminism is palatable to those in power ... and [the fear is] that injustice will look similar with more women in charge of it’ (Reni Eddo Lodge, from her book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race).
Feminism at its crux is about liberation and redistribution striving towards a world that deconstructs the gender binary and allows EVERYONE access to affordable, safe, housing and education. It’s complicated and communitarian. It’s not putting new faces and bodies as the arbiters of the oppressive systems that exist.
What white feminists and fuckboys need to own up to is their lack of respect and consideration for the emotions, ideas, and time of those around them and do better. Just because work is difficult or uncomfortable is not a sufficient reason to not engage. Sorry, not sorry.
Nadia lives in Madrid, enjoys Korean horror movies, writing, coffee made by other people, pickle rice, and, when possible, a room of her own.