An open letter to white women allies

Dear White Women.

I know, I know. Nothing warm and fuzzy comes after “Dear White Women” and then a period. If it were “Dear White Women” and a comma, it would feel like a conversation starter, right?

This isn’t one.

This is more like gnawing at the bones I am picking with all of you.

Remember when Mitt Romney said that he has “binders full of women”? Of course, if you remember that, you also remember that he was roasted for the unfortunate phrasing, and women were not happy with him. Apparently, there were actual binders that came from “a coalition called Massachusetts Government Appointments Project, or MassGAP, that had formed in August 2002 to address the shortage of women in high-ranking government positions.”

Liz Levin who chaired MassGap at the time, said:
“All of us can visualize good networkers. And that can help us describe what our own big-picture networking plan is, the why and how of it. If you really get in touch with who you are and what you can do well, that resonates and there will be plenty of people that will be interested in you. When people get in touch with themselves and network in a way that is comfortable for them, it works really well. Generally speaking, women can and do have a different model for networking.”

It is said that Romney “did have several women in prominent positions… and he made an effort to hire more women.” Here are the 8 women who had prominent positions in his presidential campaign:

I hope a brief second is all you needed to see what I see. However, take as long as you need until the lack of diversity finally stabs your eyeballs.

While women – rather, WHITE women – were pissed off at how Mitt figuratively stuffed a bunch of women into binders, no one seemed to point out that he literally white washed his top female staffing.

Because you all were not thinking about your sisterhood with women of color. Intersectionality wasn’t even in your lexicon.

I hope y’all voted earlier this month. Were you thankful to Susan B. Anthony? Did you tout and praise the suffrage movement that earned women their voting rights on August 18th, 1920?

Yes? Yay, suffrage movement!

But I hope you were specific that you, white women, won your voting rights… unless you think women of color are not women. In which case, please do be specific and don’t call yourself a feminist. That’s just way too broad. Do please refer to yourself a white feminist.

When people speak of women, women’s rights, helping women succeed, or Eat, Pray, and Love trips abroad after divorces, they tend to speak only to and from white women’s perspectives.

Teen Vogue’s article covers the history really well, much better than yours truly who received an A on a history exam only once in her lifetime and still speaks of it as her greatest academic achievement.

I have much to say about the whole concept of networking and how it is so simple to land that dream job ONLY if you utilized all the cards in your hand that were given to you by virtue of privilege, putting the onus of career successes or failures squarely on the networking woman’s shoulders without touching upon various scenarios in which the woman holds negative point cards depending on her race, sexual orientation, immigration status, maternity status, age, looks, language barriers, cultural barriers, etc., etc.

Or I can get started on the fact that there is a white women voter problem in America.

Or I can rain on all y’all’s parade celebrating that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to the House at 29 years of age, that Minnesota’s Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rep. Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to the House, that Kansas’ Sharice Davids and New Mexico’s Deb Haaland will be the first Native American women in Congress, and that Ayana Pressley and Jahana Hayes are the first black woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts and Connecticut, respectively – by pointing out that this is 2018, almost 100 years after you were given the right to vote, which was years before we women of color had to fight on our own to earn the same right. Oh, now we are finally invited to your feminist party?

You want to be an ally? But you don’t know how to go big and wonder if you can start small? When you think of the word “women,” be mindful of what that means to you. Like, when you are sitting around swapping gossip over your Starbucks pumpkin spice flat white or skim latte with hint of cinnamon and cocoa powder sprinkles, maybe pay attention to the fact that you say “this woman at my work who wears the cutest Sézane shoes” to refer to your white officemate but perhaps you clarify “but the Asian woman whose office is on the 3rd floor prefers Everlanes.”

Or if you happen to have a black friend who is wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, don’t suddenly become all “inclusive” and shit and say something stupid like “All Lives Matter.”

Because, obviously that’s not the case – and we have so much work and progress to accomplish before it is no longer dire to emphasize that Black Lives Matter or Representation Matters or Why Don’t you Have More Women of Color in Your Binders Full of Women?

White women, you have Binders Full of Women, too. You best start recognizing that.

Your excluded sisters.

Don't let feminism be yt-washed!