The Vagaggle: Hello Officer, I'd Like To Report A Derailment At Privilege Station
Today’s column goes out to all my fellow white gals out there. Now I know that not a lot is written with us in mind and often we're overlooked and struggle to find accurate representation but don’t worry, because today I’m going to break the mould and I’m going to write a piece aimed specifically at the often forgotten about demographic, white women.
Now if you read any of that and nodded in agreement and said to yourself ‘yeah, it’s damn time white women got some representation’ then congratulations, you are a fucking tool, because that was all inaccurate and I was hoping my sarcasm would leak out of the screen. From here on I’m going to refer to white women as we, because I am yet another white woman, and I want you to really get the point that this is about white women collectively. We are everywhere. Newspaper, TV, magazines, Instagram, billboards, radio, we're even on damn product packaging. And if you’re now shaking your head disagreeing, then chances are this column is perfect for you.
So there’s a trend I’ve noticed, and I’ve noticed it particularly amongst white women on Instagram, and it’s a fun little game called derailment. So here’s how to play: A person will put up a post celebrating marginalised bodies, for this example we’re going to use a post about celebrating the fierceness of black women and celebrating them loving their skin. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be at least one of the following comments:
Super pale girl: Ohhhh myyyyy goooooosh!!!!!! I luv this so much, people always say about how pale my skin is and it makes me insecure but because of this I'm going to work really hard to embrace and love my super pale skiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn ttttthhhhhhaaaaaanannnnnkkkkkk yyyyooooouuuuuuuu xxxxxxx
White feminist: Um yeah like this is great and all but it’s actually quite exclusionary because um I um don’t see myself represented in this post. I get that women of colour should love their skin, but what about me? Because like I deserve to love my skin too.
At this point you might be thinking that one of those sounds like you. In which case I implore you to not get angry, but to carry on reading.
If you’re super pale girl then most likely at the moment you’re feeling ‘very attacked right now’ or just a little bit sad because you didn’t mean to derail a post, you just wanted to express how much this post had meant to to you and how you were able to take the message and apply it to your individual situation.
If you’re white feminist girl then you’re most likely feeling pissed off because you have read like tonnes of articles about feminism and you know your stuff. In your opinion you’re not derailing the post, you’re just trying to push for more inclusivity. And how can we be feminists if we’re not celebrating ALL skin tones.
Here’s the thing, as white women, we have been the focus of media coverage for not years, but centuries. Posts that celebrate marginalised bodies are just trying to put them on an equal footing to what white women experience daily. It’s great if you identified with the message, but the message isn’t meant for you. You are not actively told your skin is ugly, you are not actively being sold products to lighten your skin. Just by being represented as the beauty standard we are told our skin is beautiful. It’s also great to push for more diversity and inclusivity, but white women don’t need that. You can't walk three feet without seeing a white women in some form of media, we have dominated that area and left no room for our sisters. Again, posts that celebrate marginalised bodies are just simply trying to give them level pegging to what white women already experience. We are already included, we are already represented, we are already seen and celebrated. And if you don’t believe me then just look around you. I’ve currently got the TV on in the background and three out of the four adverts I’ve just watched have white women in, the ads that appear on my Instagram feed have white women in, the model on my box of hair dye is a white woman. It’s fact, get over it. Oh and also, if someone is writing about their feelings and experiences from existing in a marginalised body then you best not be arguing with them, they are their truths, and no matter how feel on the subject, you have no idea what it’s like to be them so how dare you presume to argue and invalidate them.
So to recap, here’s some home truths:
1. Not every message is going to include you, and that’s okay. Because we’ve had the spotlight for a long fucking time. I don’t think it’s time to share it, I think it’s time to step out of it completely and shine it on some other folks.
2. Just because a different body than yours is being celebrated it doesn't take away your power to celebrate your own body. And guess what, you not seeing yourself represented, that’s exactly how marginalised bodies have felt and are still feeling today because they’re still not represented.
3. Does your comment contribute to boosting marginalised bodies and is it about the subject of the post? Because if it’s not, then it has no place being there. Detracting from the message of the post contributes to the oppression which the marginalised people in the post are already feeling.
4. And as always, shut the fuck up, eat some humble pie, check your privilege and learn to really listen. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything, and you don’t need to comment on everything.
And below is a few of the amazing accounts that I follow that have really opened my eyes and my world, please follow them and from there then follow the people they repost because I am just one white woman in the world and my word is not gospel, but the people below are living the life and fighting the fight, listen to them!