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What 'white feminism' is and why calling it out isn't the end of the world

"My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh*t." — Terri Lee Flavia Dzodan

Comic strips originally published on Everyday Feminism.

Feminism benefits everyone. "White feminism," not so much.

What is "white feminism"?


GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

There are a lot of long answers from feminists more qualified to break it down than me (like this one involving pizza), but the short version is that it shies away from acknowledging different people experience different oppressions based on what and how many marginalized groups they belong to.

Why does that matter? If you've experienced one kind of oppression, isn't it like all others?

Actually, no. And it's not a competition about who has experienced more or worse oppressions — it's just the ability to acknowledge that growing up as a white, affluent, straight girl is going to come with a different set of crappy experiences than growing up as, for example, a low-income white girl or a middle-class, black, queer girl.

It's a charged topic, to be sure. Here's where the communication meltdowns usually go wrong.

1. People who have "white feminist" tendencies pointed out to them don't often say: "Hey, thanks for pointing out my blind spot. I'll do some reading about this and try to do better." Instead, it's usually more along the lines of: "It's really hurtful that you don't acknowledge my place in this struggle with you, and you should be nicer to me. We're on the same side."

2. Intersectional feminists (feminists who experience other types of societal ick, like racism or homophobia) are often exhausted with having to coach such things both internally with feminists and externally with non-feminists, so sometimes they don't really have the patience to "be nice about it." That burden shouldn't be on them when a supposed ally is falling down on the job of being a complete ally. It's kind of maddening for people of multiple oppressed groups to be expected to repeatedly choke back their emotions about their plight to deliver guidance to a set of people who can't choke back their own emotion for a hot second to realize they're not being picked on when they're asked to do better.

3. The whole time this is going on, feminism's critics are misunderstanding this crucial moment in feminism's advancement, hoping it's a fatal crack in the movement.

Well, it's not. Sorry to disappoint you, misogynists.

GIF from "30 Rock."

What it is is a painful and messy but necessary process that's moving feminism on to its next level — which is being a tool to wrest back agency for everybody.

So, this whole "white feminism" thing is not an easy conversation to have. Luckily, the brilliant cartoonist Alli Kirkham from Everyday Feminism figured out how to show some important parallels in an easy way.

Like how some feminists totally get how to explain their own struggle but forget how that feels when they're being told they're playing the role of oppressor.

Comics by Alli Kirkham/Everyday Feminism, used with permission.

And how the same silencing techniques that are hurtful to them are hurtful to others, too.

You can read the rest of the spot-on comic here.

What can a feminist do when they have "white feminist" tendencies pointed out to them?

Here's a simple plan of action you can bookmark and share with friends.

It's not complicated. Pause, breathe, recognize it's not an attack but a request to do better, and say:

"Hey, thanks for pointing out my blind spot. I'll do some reading about this and try to do better."

And then actually do it. We're gonna get there, fabulous feminists. Together!

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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