It’s been a particularly side eye- inducing year, due to an epidemic my friends and I have dubbed WWF (White Women’s Fuckery). WWF is a very particular way in which white women fuck everything up with their lack of intersectional analysis and attempts to get everyone to conform to the tenants of white feminism. And the worst part about it? The white guilt and tears that flow when white women are called out on it. I crowdsourced this list from a group of Black and brown women who call themselves “Year of the Brown Girl.” (And here’s to high hopes that 2016 will be a year of little-to-no WWF, because the Lorde knows if I go through another year of giving such severe side eyes, I may never be able to look forward again.)
5. MILEY CYRUS AND TAYLOR SWIFT VS. NICKI MINAJ
So here’s the scene. The MTV Video Music Awards announce their list of nominees and Nicki Minaj’s video for “Anaconda” is not nominated for Video of the Year. So Minaj did what any other young artist in their feelings does (ask Azalea Banks)—she started tweeting. “If I was a different ‘kind’ of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well… if your video celebrates women with slim bodies, you will be nominated for artist of the year.” Despite clearly calling out an entire industry, Taylor Swift got all in her white feelings and tweeted back at Minaj, “I’ve done nothing but love and support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot…”
Pause. Rewind. What. A Black women is spilling tea about how the industry treats those who are both woman and Black and Taylor Swift pulls two standard WWF moves from the playbook: (1) She makes something clearly not about her all about her. (2) She did that thing where an intersectional critique arises that implicates white women and the way society values them in the oppression of other women, but instead of acknowledging it, says something along the lines of it was the men! I too have been oppressed! Minaj quickly tweeted Swift back into her place, and we thought all the WWF from the VMAs was over until Miley Cyrus— a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as Hannah Montana, a.k.a. She Who “Twerks” With No Butt or Rhythm— inserted herself into the conversation in an interview for the New York Times saying, “There’s a way to talk to people… She was saying that everyone was white and blonde that got nominated… You know what I always say? Not that this is jealousy, but jealousy does the opposite of what you want it to—that’s a yoga mantra. People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way. If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.”
Pause. Rewind. What. Luckily, the clapback was swift because, as you may know, YOU DON’T WANT IT WITH NICKI MINAJ. At the VMAs, Minaj received an award and after thanking her pastor, went on to say “And now back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press—Miley what’s good???” Ironically enough, Miley and her (legion of white) fans immediately called foul play and accused Nicki of bullying the suddenly infantilized Cyrus. Mmhhmmm. Right. Yeah. Miss me with the white girl tears. Miley… you, your faux locks that look like a haystack got into a fight with a weedwhacker and lost and is recovering slowly on your scalp, and all your fans CAN HAVE A SEAT.
4. VIOLA DAVIS VS. A BITTER OWL (OLD WHITE LADY)
In September 2015, Viola Davis of Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away With Murder made history when she became the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. Viola Davis, who had every Black woman’s soul in her hand when she took off her wig and makeup on HTGAWM, snatched back our spirits with her historical acceptance speech. She spoke on the reality of (in)visibility of Black women and women of color in the entertainment industry, even quoting Harriet Tubman:
“‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Nothing could ruin such a historical moment, right? WRONG. Cue General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn, who took to Twitter to write “I wish I loved #VoilaDavis Speech, but I thought she should have let @shondarhmes write it. In deleted tweets she wrote, “I’m a fucking actress for 40 years. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys is not a venue for racial opportunity. ALL women belittled.” Grahn then goes on to claim that Viola Davis has never been discriminated against and a whole bunch of other things I assume she got from a WWF 101 pamphlet they hand out at monthly meetings (because y’all really be on message sometimes). Grahn, you bitter OWL. You may have been waiting 40 years for recognition, but Black women been waiting more like… 400 years, so have a seat. Have all the seats.
3. MERYL STREEP WOULD RATHER BE A REBEL THAN A SLAVE
This year, Suffragette, a film about (white) women’s push for voting rights in the UK that was described as “heart breaking and inspirational,” caught a collective side eye when a promotional shoot for the film featured its lead actresses posing in shirts that read “I’d Rather Be A Rebel Than A Slave.” Pause. Rewind. What. Aside from clearly not understanding the fundamentals of slavery—namely, that it’s not a choice (they could have asked any Black person…oh wait, suffragettes were actively racist and there’s barely any Black people in the movie, my bad!)—it blows my mind that these incredibly ahistorical and tone deaf shirts actually made it into a promotional shoot for this video. Like, multiple people approved this. Even worse, after the shoot came out and folks pushed back on it, other white women came to the defense of their sistren in the shoot, saying the paraphrased quote was taken out of context and reminded Black women and women of color that we would be nothing without the work of white feminists. Funny thing is, first wave feminists were cream-of-the crop racists, so I’m not even sure why we were all so surprised that a film about them would have a shoot like this. Looking back, I think we were all just shocked that Meryl Streep was involved in such a blatant example of WWF.
2. TWISTED MINI BUNS
No, I’m not talking about the newest product on the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s line. I’m talking about the latest “new” hairstyle for white women, inspired by Marc Jacobs’ spring fashion show. Only problem (aside from the fact that these models look truly horrendous in that hairstyle) is that TWISTED MINI BUNS ARE NOT A THING and are not new. They are actually a well known Black hairstyle called Bantu knots that have existed since… I dunno, Black women started doing their hair probably. From this, to the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge,” to the “discovering baby hairs,” to white women “joining the natural hair movement” and the tutorials on how to get an “Afro,” it’s clear that we Black women can’t have anything for ourselves.
So you might have heard that we (Black women) can’t have anything for ourselves. Well, in case you were still unclear as to what I meant, here’s another shining example of WWF in action. The hashtag #BlackGirlsAreMagic came out of Black Twitter as an empowerment movement for Black girls to recognize their inherent value in a society which systematically disempowers and shames them. #WhiteGirlsAreMagic alternatively was created as an all-too-familiar attempt to silence Black women’s expression of self and further shame them. Huffington Post writer Zeba Blay gives a perfect breakdown of the absurdity of this “counter” hashtag:
The #BlackGirlsAreMagic hashtag is not designed to exclude anyone, but to celebrate a group who often feels ignored and unappreciated. It’s an expression of sisterhood and solidarity. There is something incredibly empowering about putting an idea out there that you have been socialized to believe isn’t true. By tweeting it into existence as it were, black women are asserting their personhood and their self-love, not denying anyone else’s. Let’s make something clear: All women rock. White women, black women, Latina women, Asian women, all women are beautiful and unique. And all women must grapple with unrealistic beauty standards and expectations. But the fact of the matter is that society doesn’t teach us that we’re all beautiful. In the hierarchical structure of beauty, white beauty has been privileged above all others.
The hashtag reminded me of the time Michelle Obama went to the Black Girls Rock convening and said “Black Girls Rock,” only to be called a racist by mainly white women who claimed their daughters would be scarred as a result. Or when protesters are called racists for shouting Black Lives Matter instead of All Lives Matter. I’m just saying, white women were basically the beauty edition of All Lives Matter in 2015, and it was not a good look for y’all. As a result, I invite all those who took part in #WhiteGirlsAreMagic to have all the seats.
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