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Can't Touch This: American Feminism's Racial Ignorance


My recent article "Chicks Dig Porn" garnered a series of interesting comments. The one quoted above stands out, not only as a Top Rated comment among the bunch, but as a clear (if anecdotal) illustration of precisely how ignorant the feminist West truly is regarding female success that falls outside the boundaries of standard feminist narrative.

Spurred on by Cloudbuster, I Googled "African women, politics, feminism" and my first hit provided rather keen insight into the racial gap apparent in modern feminist thinking. Titled "African women are blazing a feminist trail - why don't we hear their voices?" the Guardian article detailed some amazing statistics:

  • 64% of Rwandan parliamentary seats go to women, who have held the gender majority in parliament since 2008
  • Both Malawi and Liberia have female heads of state
  • Senegal recently elected its first female Prime Minister, Aminata Toure
  • The current African Union chair is female

The bottom line: African women are organizing for and securing their own political success. This reality flies in the face of Third Wave Feminist notions regarding the impact of patriarchy and post-colonialism on racial identity. Perhaps this is why we are more comfortable discussing Miley Cyrus's twerking and Lena Dunham's lack of black friends; their stories better suit the narrative of inherent white racism that has informed feminism since the 1990s. In America, it is an accomplishment when white and black feminists can unite over hairstyles. Celebrating female political leaders abroad, well, that's a bit much, don't you think?