Bravery is admirable. It really is. What isn’t admirable, though, is using your bravery to exclude others from your own personal brand of social justice.
While intersectional feminism makes an active effort to help all women, including women of color, disabled women, LGBTQ+ women, and poor women, white feminism refers to “feminism” that benefits solely privileged white women.
Consider the case of Rose McGowan. McGowan has long been a critic of sexual assault in Hollywood and was one of the first women to call out Harvey Weinstein. (Go Rose!) She’s one of the most vocal women in today’s society and she’s paid the price. After speaking out about her assault, she was “blacklisted” by the industry and was painted as a loose cannon by the media. A five-part documentary for E! called Citizen Rose, which she starred in and produced, premiered on January 30.
Yet, McGowan’s work continues to exclude the trans community and people of color. For example, when Vanity Fair profiled McGowan for her upcoming memoir, Brave, she was seemingly credited with helping launch the #MeToo movement, which has helped thousands of women come forward about their assaults. There’s just one issue with this: #MeToo was created in 2007 by activist Tarana Burke, a dark skin black woman. Yet, it has become McGowan’s calling card. Additionally, in a now-deleted tweet, McGowan criticized James Corden for making crude jokes about Harvey Weinstein at a gala he was hosting:
This tone-deaf tweet completely alienates the struggles of black women and men who experience assault.
The n-word should never be used as a comparative term; struggle isn’t a competition. The years of violence and trauma that go along with the n-word shouldn’t be abused to prove a point about the struggle of white women.
The fact is, all women face harassment, and McGowan’s words completely distance women of color. Later, McGowan would blame her lapse in judgment on smoking weed and staying up too late.
McGowan also refuses to include trans women. In fact, she recently got into a shouting match with a trans women asking her to address her transphobic comments. McGowan was promoting her book at a Barnes and Noble in Union Square and was answering pre-submitted questions from the audience when a trans woman stood up and interjected.
She said, “I have a suggestion. Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away]. I have been followed home —.”
The woman was referring to a comment made on RuPaul’s What’s The Tee? podcast in August 2017. McGowan said, “[Trans women] assume because they felt like a woman on the inside. That’s not developing as a woman…That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman, and a lot of the stuff I hear trans complaining about, yeah, welcome to the world.”
Again, McGowan manages to completely alienate another group of women. She fails to realize that trans women are just as much female as cis woman. This invalidates her support of #MeToo, considering trans women (and women of color) experience assault at a much higher rate than cishet white women.
McGowan proceeded to yell at the woman, shouting, “Don’t label me, sister. Don’t put your labels on me. Don’t you f*cking do that. Do not put your labels on me. I don’t come from your planet. Leave me alone. I do not subscribe to your rules. I do not subscribe to your language. You will not put labels on me or anybody. Step the f*ck back. What I do for the f*cking world and you should be f*cking grateful. Shut the f*ck up. Get off my back. What have you done? I know what I’ve done, Goddammit.”
When the audience tried to calm her down, she stated, “I’m not crying; I’m f*cking mad with the lies, I’m mad that you put shit on me because I have a f*cking vagina and I’m white or I’m black or I’m yellow or I’m purple. Fuck off. All of us want to say it. I just do.”
“Trans women are women and what I’ve been trying to say is that it’s the same. The stats are not that dissimilar. When you break it down, it is a much smaller population. There’s not a network here devoted to your f*cking death. There’s not advertisers advertising tampons with a camera lovingly going up a girl’s body as she’s being lovingly raped and strangled. Piss off. And until you can collect that f*cking check, back up. My name is Rose McGowan and I am obviously f*cking brave.”
Telling trans women to “be f*cking grateful” for what you’ve done for them (which isn’t as much as you think, Rose) and that people are trying to attack you because you “have a f*cking vagina and I’m white” is just further proof that McGowan is not even close to being intersectional. Not by a long shot. The blatant disrespect for trans issues is disgusting, and the insinuation that trans women somehow have it easier than cis women is false and further alienates them.
Rose McGowan’s brand of feminism is exclusive to anyone who doesn’t look like her. Although her work for the #MeToo movement is brave, her exclusion and alienation of people of color and the trans community cannot be ignored.
Featured Image Courtesy of Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP