Talk about progressive change in any work industry is great. In a recent interview mainstream actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and a few others were gathered together, discussing the horrific revelations in the Hollywood film industry.
Even with distaste for Lawrence, I was able to appreciate her valid point of sexual assault being present in any workforce but only being highlighted so widely in the entertainment industry because they’re on screen.
The women shared their personal experiences with the wage gap, not fitting into the “boxes society puts them into,” etc. However, their audience — myself included — was not very pleased with their conversation as a whole.
Nothing they spoke of (in this interview anyway), was blatantly wrong or offensive — it was what they didn’t speak about that was discerning. The issues of race, sexuality, gender expression, etc., were never mentioned. Yes, they touched upon valid challenges any woman in the industry may face, but those challenges are not the same for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, or any women outside the classification of white and privileged.
“One Black woman, and once again, Asian/Indigenous actors are not even represented. We can’t have REAL conversations about industry and systemic change when everyone is not invited to have a seat at the table.” – Rachael the Lord (@RachaeltheLord) via Twitter
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) November 15, 2017
White feminism isn’t feminism. Conversations without every woman being represented isn’t a real conversation. Women of color and sapphic relationships are extremely over-sexualized in the media and real life, so it is not the place of a white woman to generalize every woman’s experience.
On a nation average, Native Americans are twice as likely to be sexually harassed than any other race, and TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) students are at a higher risk for sexual assault than cisgendered people. The lack of diverse representation in Hollywood is obvious, but it’s even worse to have their narratives overlooked when they are being intensely affected.
“I’m sick of privileged white women speaking on my behalf like we don’t have the same experiences they don’t represent me or my worldview if you wanna have a discussion about sexism + misogyny include women from different intersections.” – sami (@ezekielfiguero) via Twitter
Jennifer Lawrence and any of the Emmas in Hollywood are not the only ones to blame. Their type of mindset is widespread in the entertainment industry, and it’s crucial to hold them accountable for not being intersectional in their feminism, especially when they are titled as “feminist icons.”
Sure, they still struggle with gender equality, but it should be part of their job to advocate for those who are struggling even more. And no, holding these women responsible in their lack of action is not an attack. Recognizing and using their white privilege to advocate for those who face detrimental oppression is what needs to be done for real change to happen.