White Women, This Moment Is Not About Your Brand

Image: Jezebel/GMG, photo: Shutterstock
Image: Jezebel/GMG, photo: Shutterstock

Ladies, how was your weekend? Did you hear what happened in Charlottesville? Did you start your morning yesterday with a few tweets about how white supremacy is also really bad for white women? Did you look absolutely stunning in your guest spot on MSNBC where you talked about the alt-right? Did you spend Sunday writing a spicy open letter to Nazis about how you don’t want to fuck them? How was the engagement on that? Did that totally nail it lmao?


If so, you should be embarrassed.

Do not be a white woman who uses a white supremacist uprising to “find her voice.” Do not be a white woman who dresses up a tweet about her book deal in the language of righteousness while black and brown people are suffering. Do not be a white woman who uses a tragedy to promote her brand. Do not be a white woman who talks when you have nothing to say.

I recognize that talking can feel like healing, and I suspect that the impulse to speak out in the face of injustice is near universal. But I’m also willing to bet that the urge to speak out, no matter the topic, no matter the time is probably more common among journalists, writers, comedians, actors, politicians, and the otherwise famous than it is in the general population. Women of all races in these professions are forced to spend an unfair amount of time defending their right to hold them in the first place and to offer opinions and perspectives publicly—particularly on topics of any seriousness. But since the election of Donald Trump, the sexist fruit has hung so low that very little seriousness is required grab it, name it, and make it your beat.

And many of us have. In the months that followed the election, white women who write were treated to a spate of pieces reviewing our work that were all called some variation of “Surprised Teen Vogue Covers Politics? You Shouldn’t Be.” Some white women who write about politics, social justice, and Donald Trump for women’s publications read these pieces and thought, “yes, that is my job.” Others thought, “now is the time to build my brand,” and sell t-shirts, and they went about doing so with less wit than gusto and less sensitivity than shamelessness.

There’s nothing wrong with being a woman entrepreneur with a message, or with sassy, simple takes on the news—this explains, for example, the popularity of The Skimm. But there is something wrong with thinking that because you have made a name for yourself shouting that sexism has arrived at the party moments after it announced itself, that your voice is the right one for every occasion.

For all its good, the Pantsuit Nation-ification of some parts of the liberal internet has had the unfortunate effect of making some white women believe that to speak is to #resist. Indeed, the violence in Virginia does cry out for resistance: to white supremacy, to the quiet racism of bystanders, to white women’s role in emboldening racial hatred, and to Donald Trump, who could never have scraped his way into office without the support of both white women and white supremacists. It’s true that despite their electoral support of him, white women are enemies of Donald Trump, just as the targets of Saturday’s white supremacist rally do. But the Nazis in Virginia weren’t really there to protest white women’s right to be alive. And the violence in Virginia does not cry out for a response from sassy white women who know a thing or two about virgins living in their moms’ basements.



In the past 1.5 years, I’ve realized that a lot of white feminists believe being women is equivalent to being a POC, and so they believe they have an understanding of racism that allows them to make it about themselves. Pantsuit Nation is actually a really good place to find them. It’s incredibly frustrating because they really, truly think they’re being good allies and when they get called out on it it’s “Well this is why you alienate allies and I had no idea that I would be attacked after all of the work I’ve done and everything I’ve been through as a woman, I’m leaving!”