Yes, Patricia Arquette was talking about equal pay for ALL women

I think we can all agree that, for the most part, celebrity feminism is pretty shallow. As a culture, we are overly preoccupied with the things that those possibly most-unqualified to comment on political movements have to say about political movements. But they are our idols and so we insist on asking… As a result, the responses we get tend to be terribly disappointing.

Sunday night at the Oscars, as about 80 billion identical(ly boring) think pieces published yesterday in liberal feminist medialand informed us, Patricia Arquette said a thing about women’s rights. Kiiillll herrrrr.

What Arquette said was bold, due mainly to the fact that American celebrity culture is often so pathetically apolitical and dim-witted.

What she said, during her acceptance speech, was this:

To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.*

And it’s true. Women have fought for everyone else’s rights. We were a part of the New Left before realizing that, within that male-led movement, we were never going to be treated with respect. We supported gay rights (and still do) despite the fact that there is still a hell of a lot of misogyny that exists in gay male communities. Women were central to the civil rights movement as well. Yet we find ourselves in a situation wherein we can’t even get the bare minimum — the least radical of all achievements, as far as “equality” goes (and many of us are looking at liberation, not equality, in any case) — pay equity. We literally are not being paid what men are to do the same work. Not that my particular concern, with regard to feminism, is ensuring those who are making millions as actors are all making the same millions, but just this year, the Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars. I mean, it’s ridiculous that, in this day and age, we are still fighting for these basics.

The funny thing is, for many Americans, this is an offensive, far-too-radical thing to say. meryl_reaction_360

While Meryl Streep and J Lo were thrilled at Arquette’s statement, Fox News pundit, Stacey Dash, was appalled, saying, “Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, [President] Kennedy passed an equal pay wall. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.”

Whoever smelt it, dealt it — amirite?

But right-wing Americans weren’t the only ones upset by Arquette’s call for equal pay — the vitriol came primarily from your friendly social justice warrior, perpetually starved and on the hunt for the next woman to devour.

It wasn’t her initial call to action that got Arquette into trouble, but rather her comments to the press, who asked her to elaborate backstage.

Not only did many liberal commentators gloss over the very-relevant point Arquette made about ageism in Hollywood (solely reserved for females, of course) — “Actresses, the older they get, the less they get paid” — but they ignored her critiques of the “lean in” approach as well. When asked to respond to former Sony head Amy Pascal’s remarks on wage disparity, who said, in effect, that women simply needed to “negotiate better” in order to rise above systemic inequality, Arquette insisted on holding the system accountable, saying,

I think we need federal laws that are comprehensive… People think we have equal rights. We won’t until we pass a Constitutional amendment in the United States of American where we pass the Era once and for all.

Arquette also challenged the popular myth that the west is some kind of progressive utopia and that it’s just “over there” we need worry about, when it comes to women’s equality. “The truth is,” she said, “even though we sort of feel we have equal rights in America, right under the surface we have huge issues… It’s inexcusable we go around the world talking about equal rights for women in other countries.”

But all of that was erased the moment Arquette asked for solidarity, saying, “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Now, I’ll admit that statement is imperfect. It is very difficult to speak clearly and accurately, off-the-cuff, to the media, all the time. You should try it and see how many of your sentences come off in the way you intended or would have liked. Either way, I don’t for one moment believe that Arquette thinks or meant to convey that lesbians and women of colour don’t count as “women,” as her progressive critics claimed in order to justify their missile launch.

I read her comment, instead, to say that it was time for all of us to fight for women. We, as women, are always supposed to put everyone else first, and called selfish when we don’t. Women’s issues have been thrown under the bus in every other progressive movement to date — we have been raped and abused by the men whose movements we joined, and relegated to doing menial administrative tasks and to the role housewife and mother, rather than leader. While liberals everywhere will fight for gay marriage, they still refuse to fight back against the sex industry, and men who will fight class and race wars continue to insist on objectifying women despite their otherwise liberatory politics.

It’s our time, is what Patricia Arquette said.

I have a hard time believing that Arquette’s critics truly believe she was only advocating for white, straight women when she was talking about about wage inequality, but even if they did, the actress clarified her position on Twitter:

There are certainly more exciting, more powerful messages I would have preferred to hear about women’s liberation, but her message is true. The wage gap is real and it impacts the real lives of women and their children, and speaks to the global status of women. And if your contribution to feminism is waiting for women to misspeak so you can paint them as the enemy and order them to “shut up” (as countless people did on Twitter today), your message is far more problematic than anything Arquette said.

*Updated, 02/27/2015 — Previously we quoted Arquette as saying, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” It seems the more accurate quote is this: “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” (Comma-placement can make all the difference.)

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Danielle

    Thank you for writing this!

    On the same night, Black musician John Legend made a statement during his acceptance speech about mass incarceration in America, saying, “There are more Black men under correctional control today than there were enslaved in 1850.” I heard nary a peep from the many liberal feminist commentators about John Legend ignoring women of color. But a study was just released (see link) showing that Black women face police violence, mass incarceration and are disproportionately affected by the school-to-prison pipeline.

    If Patricia Arquette’s statements ignored women of color (and I don’t think they did), then John Legend’s did as well.

    It seems that white women often get called out (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) for ignoring intersectionality and the unique experiences of women of color. White women are attacked this way even if they make a simple statement about sexism. However, men of color are rarely, if ever, called out when they make statements about racism against men of color. No one accuses men of color for ignoring intersectionality, when they talk about mass incarceration’s effects on Black men. I guess white women are less threatening to criticize than men of any color.

    • dasqueen

      Honestly though, you prob shouldn’t say “black men didn’t include black women EITHER” as a defense! This basically means that you’re solidifying the very assertion that black women have been saying forever: that white women exclude us in the same ways that men [of all races] do.

      You might want to dip into some black feminist blog sites that ARE writing about the ways that legend AND arquette failed to specifically call out women of color.

      • Danielle

        I’m not using it as a defense so much as I’m pointing out a double standard. There is a pattern where men seem to get a free pass when it comes to intersectionality. White women are often accused of being racist (or leaving WOC out) when they talk about sexism, but men of color are rarely accused of sexism (or leaving WOC out) when they talk about racism.

        I think this double standard exists partly because people feel safer criticizing women than they do criticizing men, but part of it is just plain sexism. As Catharine MacKinnon wrote, “I sense that people feel more dignity in being part of a group that includes men than in being part of a group that includes that ultimate reduction of the notion of oppression, that instigator of lynch mobs, that ludicrous whiner, that equality coat-tails rider, the white woman. It seems that if your oppression is also done to a man, you are more likely to be recognized as oppressed, as opposed to inferior.” (from her essay “From Practice to Theory, or What is a White Woman, Anyway?”)

        I’m sure there are a few Black feminists out there who have called out John Legend (and please share any blogposts you know of–I’d be interested in reading), but they are certainly few and far between. The difference in reaction to Arquette and Legend couldn’t be more stark. Law prof Kimberle Crenshaw is a notable exception to the double standard I described above, in that she has critiqued the national response to police brutality and mass incarceration for only focusing on Black men and boys, and leaving out Black women and girls.

  • Eli

    I agree, I do believe she meant ALL women, not just white ones. The twitter mob needed a woman to chew on, and her poorly worded backstage speech offered that up on a silver plate (you know, because men get constructive criticism and maybe a few snide remarks but no internet explosions).

    However, there is much to be talked about in regards to wage “equality” on the axis of race. As is now known, people of black and hispanic descent earn considerably less than white people, including white women. White women are closer to the white man in earnings, more than any group of PoC. That doesn’t erase the fact that this is a gendered issue, but I feel like we can’t brush off these criticisms as just twitter being twitter, as there are very valid concerns to be heard. To be honest, I think wage inequality is one of the clearest and most measurable standards we can look at with race and gender in the equation. There was an Icelandic politician (I believe it was Sóley Tómasdóttir) who once said something along the lines of (not direct quote) “I’ve said that it’s actually good that the wage gap exists, because it is one of the most solid proof we have of gender inequality.” She says this, not as if she thinks the wage gap is *a good thing*, but that it’s one of the most tangible, truly visible proof we have that there’s a huge problem. We don’t erase gender inequality by erasing the wage gap, just like we won’t end racism by closing the wage gap. The underlying systems are more powerful than that.

    I kinda went off on a tangent there, but my point is: I understand that persons of color get upset when white women put such weight on the gendered wage gap, especially when men of color are hit more keenly by it than white women. There’s points to be made there.

    On the other hand: twitter is a shithole full of people who will try their absolute hardest to gnaw on women at any opportunity. Literally, the only cases I’ve ever seen when there’s twitter outrage or twitter “outings”, it’s ALWAYS women. Roxane Gay got her share of nastiness when she asked an innocent question, albeit a poorly phrased one. Women are not given the benefit of the doubt. Ever. Twitter people need to seriously look at what they’re doing, and maybe check through their timelines and see if there’s a misogynist pattern to be found. Most likely there is.

    I hope I made sense, my ADHD is making me strangely incoherent today.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes for sure. The poorest of the poor are always people of colour and, of that group, women (and, consequently, their children).

    • Rchen

      Great comment! I was really surprised recently though when I saw some research showing that Asian women make more than white women, although still not as much as white men. That is not to say that Asian women don’t face unique challenges in society that white women don’t, but I thought it was great to see that they are doing so well with earning power, at least compared to other women.

      I can’t seem to figure out how to put the link in, but it is at in an article called By the Numbers: A Look at the Gender Pay Gap.

      Unfortunately it also shows other women of color are still extremely under paid.

      The numbers are for the US.

      • A Non-White US Lady


        The higher wages of Asian Americans are a function of the fact that a huge swath of East Asian & South Asian Americans immigrants have come from higher classes. And Southeast Asians are a much poorer group in the US than East Asians. A lot has been written about this if you want to look it up.

        Also there’s the fact that Asians are very underrepresented in US politics, so their economic wealth has not translated into political power which it would have if there weren’t racism towards them too.

        • Rchen

          I certainly didn’t take that one bit of information to mean that Asians don’t face racism. I thought that was clear. They obviously do. I am also aware that the designation Asian covers a huge variety of different ethic and cultural groups that definitely have different experiences with U.S. culture and different levels of financial well being.

          I just had not realized how financially successful Asian women are as a group. The lack of political success, positive visibility in the media, etc is all the more surprising to me, although not very because racism does exist. I am sure that there is a lot more I can find about this topic as you pointed out, however the common assumption is that white women are best off in the pay gap and apparently that isn’t true in the U.S.

          Of course that is just one metric and I also realize that income is not the same as overall wealth and that some Asians who are more recent immigrants help support families abroad so that they may actually be maintaining two households, the new one in the U.S. and the family home in the country of origin.

          There is obviously more to the story than just that number. Making money isn’t a magic cure all for a toxic culture and Asian women still don’t make the same amount as white men so even on that metric they still are not being treated fairly.

    • fdsha

      what happened with Roxane Gay?

      • Eli

        Roxane Gay received some nastiness from a portion of the SJW twitter because she made two tweets, one was “Are there black people in Australia?” and then to clarify “I mean people of African descent.” Simple, innocent questions, but she got some nasty remarks and the typical know-it-all “omg HOW CAN U B SO IGNRNT” response. Notably, the people I noticed making those nasty remarks were…white. SO INTERSECTIONAL.

        • fdsha

          ugh. Of course.

          WHO would want to shout at Roxane Gay, that woman is so damn likeable!

          Also, it is obviously an issue of race and racial terms varying in different contexts–in America no one would have to clarify that “black” means “people of African descent”!

          Ah well. That’s Twitter for you.

  • weirdward

    It also appears to me to be disproportionally young women who are calling for Patricia Arquette’s head – women who probably see themselves as feminists but who have never actually done any activism except for tearing others down over mistakes with very little if any experience of how difficult it actually is to get things 100% right all the time, especially in real-world activism. And who don’t appear to see any contradiction in their own actions, in supporting a ‘feminism’ that primarily consists of tearing women down who step out of line. Quite frankly it looks a lot more like the women doing this are desperate for male approval, or at least not to become the targets of male violence / ridicule themselves, by gleefully targeting women. But who for whatever reason, also want the feel-good kudos of being able to see themselves as fighting for justice or whatever they think they’re fighting for (honestly I have no idea a lot of the time, there is such an absence of analysis it’s not even clear to me what, if any, goals a lot of these young social-justice warrior types actually have).

    While I completely understand and agree with the importance of a nuanced analysis that considers women of color, lesbians etc., that’s certainly not the type of analysis the social-justice types come up with anyway – bringing up the causes of minorities seems to be used primarily a lot of the time to shut women up who dare to say anything at all – and that is both dysfunctional AND insulting to those minority groups.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I think this is probably what happens when you ‘learn’ feminism from Twitter and the third wave, as the third wave built itself, largely, by tearing down their secondwave sisters and ‘twitter feminism’s’ primary purpose appears to be to pile on and tear down other women and to perpetuate myths and lies about feminists.

  • Derrington

    I get the feeling that liberal feminists are actually an offshoot of male chauvinism. They only seem to feel comfortable in telling off women. I thought pa remarks were talking to everyone and therefore inclusive of all, but it seems like liberals need everyone to get a special namecheck to ensure their idea of inclusivity gets adhered to.

  • Social justice warriors are weird. Complaining about one bad thing does not imply that no other bad thing exists.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Right. Like, as someone put it on my FB page, a person must be a hero or a villain. Arquette said something kind of imperfect and therefore she is the enemy. SJW are ridiculous.

      • Random Name Generator Offline

        It’s almost like they’re expecting women to be the absolutely, flawlessly perfect and entirely selfless nurturers of various other people’s causes rather than those our own…

        How are they not picking up on how much that sounds exactly like the patriarchal ideal we keep getting it in the neck for not being?

        That question was only partially rhetorical.

        • Meghan Murphy


      • I don’t even think her speech was imperfect, at least not for those reasons. I think it’s fine to just focus on women, or just focus on race issues, or sexual orientation or whatever, in some contexts. She doesn’t have to make a list of all the wrongs in the world for it to be okay for her to mention this one major wrong.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Very true. Of course women are always attacked for wanting to focus on ‘women’s issues’ it seems…

  • anne cameron

    So Arquette didn’t manage a finely nuanced delicately parsed “off the cuff” remark backstage. So? She’s spot on and I support her stand. Feminists have put our asses on the line to advance freedom and equality for all folks from the get-go and it’s damnwell time a few other groups started to get serious about helping women. All women. Regardless of colour or ethnicity or any other b.s. separation the patriarchy tries to impose. When arstles start nattering on and saying Arquette overlooked or ignored or slighted or..whatever… women of colour , those arstles are invoking the Divide and Conquer tactic.
    And y’know what? We won’t be divided. And those who claim to be “liberal” while falling for the divide and conquer ploy really need to get a good slap on the side of the head. Why do the patriarchy’s work?
    Spot on Patricia Arquette! Bloody spot on!

  • Nearly 45 years after the women’s liberation movement stormed onto the scene opening a floodgate of discourse about women’s rights, it’s déjà vu all over again.
    It’s hard to believe that systemic gender inequality still exists today and women are still being moved around like so many pawns in a political game that seems to be played by men only.
    Ironically because feminist ideas are so taken for granted few women think of themselves as feminists. The persistent stereotype of 2nd wave feminists as male bashing, make-up-less angry and non domestic was the same stereotype perpetrated by the media at the time.
    If a picture says a thousand words, take a look at a series of collages that contain thousands of images portraying a pivotal time period when women became conscious not only of the inequality, but how our identities had become fragmented by a media insistent on dictating ever-changing standards. Not unlike today.

  • I have been suspicious of intersectionality for some time. For one thing, it is not a new concept. You will find texts that discuss the problems faced by people who are members of two or more oppressed groups that were written as far back as the 1800s and probably earlier too. It was not uncommon in the industrial revolution era for those discussing the exploitation of the working class to discuss the way in which women were even more brutally exploited than working men. I even have a thoroughly non-radical history textbook that discusses exploitation of women in factories during the early years of (white) Australian history. So when I first got told that different forms of oppression “intersect”, my response was one of “well duh”.

    But that’s what a lot of liberal statements are like. They are obviously true if you take them at face value, but they have insidious implied meanings. Here are some examples.

    Common liberal statement: “Different cultures have different ideas about how people should behave.”
    Implied mneaning: “Behaviours that are part of some foreign culture, especially if they cause serious physical and emotional harm to women, are totally beyond criticism. The most horrific acts are fine so long as they are part of somebody’s culture.”

    Common liberal statement: “Everyone has their own beliefs”
    Implied meaning 1: “I think you are totally wrong, but I am too much of coward to say so and I desperately want you to like me. Besides, disagreement is scary.”
    Implied meaning 2: “All claims about reality are equally accurate, because truth is relative and you can’t know anything after all. So how dare you make claims about reality and then try to convince people to agree with them so you can form political movements based on them. Don’t you know that the point of a belief is to make yourself feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside and nothing else.”

    I should make a Liberish-to-English dictionary (and before the nitpicky social justice crowd gets all upset, I picked English because it is the language I am most familiar, dictionaries translating Liberish to other languages are just as valid.)

    Anyhow, I think “intersectionality” may be another one of those liberal terms that sounds okay (and in fact is obviously true) on the surface, but has a concealed meaning. I think the purpose of the term is to undermine the recognition that women are an oppressed group and that all forms of feminity that women are indoctrinated into, while they vary depending on race, class, religious background, etc, encourage women to be subordinate.

    Liberals like to use diversity to conceal general trends. They do this with pornography all the time. They want us to convince us that pornogrpahy cannot be oppressive or degrading, because there are tonne of pornography genres, featuring a tonne of different sex acts that reference every possible identity group. But this “diversity” is superficial. Pornographers have found a thousand different ways to push the view that sex is about dominance and submission, rather than egalitarian human connections.

    Hierarchial societies throughout history have found a thousand different way to teach females to be submissive. They have used a wide variety of religious beliefs, laws, books, films, toys, prettiness norms and sexual acts to encourage female submission and the specific behaviours that are demanded from women vary, but there is a clear pattern. The same way that there are clear patterns with regard to the division of society into classes and the oppression of non-whites. The specific circumstances and behaviors vary and change, but the essence remains the same. Feminists (and other leftists) should fight against racism and class divisions (note, I said “class division”, not “classism”), but not at the expense of recognising the broader patterns of female oppression.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Anyhow, I think “intersectionality” may be another one of those liberal terms that sounds okay (and in fact is obviously true) on the surface, but has a concealed meaning. I think the purpose of the term is to undermine the recognition that women are an oppressed group and that all forms of feminity that women are indoctrinated into, while they vary depending on race, class, religious background, etc, encourage women to be subordinate.”

      Hear, hear! Clearly women of colour and poor women suffer inordinately under capitalist, neocolonialist patriarchy. This was discussed at length and was central during all fifteen years of my postsecondary Women’s Studies. This is, as you say, obvious. But somehow intersectionality is treated — in liberal/thirdwave/twitter sjw circles as though it’s a new concept AND as though it means there is no oppression of women as a class by men, as a class or that we have any commonalities in that regard.

      • A Non-White US Lady

        I’m a Mexican-American woman and I’ve grown to be weary of the people who are all about the intersectionality label. It seems to be almost entirely performative. (A way to show your one of the “good Whites” or “good men” by mere identity.)

        Definitely wondered if some self-described intersectional Feminists actually think ALL women are oppressed including White Women or if they think being White somehow cancels out being a woman. (I get the impression that might be what they think.)

        But ya as someone who has been involved in in real life activist groups and actions, I find it all terribly annoying. I’ve always been a believer in not doing the “Oppression Olympics” as it’s not productive in the least. Whenever I push back against it, though, I get accused of being an apologist even though I have talked about racism, sexism, class inequality etc regularly for ten years.

        And definitely heard a lot of unsubstantiated things about the second wave and how it was all about White women’s concerns when it clearly wasn’t. (Really? How are pay equality, anti-discrimination laws, being allowed to be more than a mother, anti-rape politics, reproductive rights, etc White women’s concerns?) If anything I’ve found the third wave only pays superficial lipservice to women of color and is really liberal Feminism (if you can even it call that) painted in a new way. I find analysis of women as a class to be far more helpful in understanding my life as a woman of color than the shallow understandings I see on Twitter.

        • Rosie

          Yes, I think a lot of social justice warriors don’t really understand what ‘intersectionality’ means. e.g. in this Paris Lees article (trigger warning: dumb-ass)…

          ‘intersectional’ just seems to mean ‘not racist’, alongside a really dodgy comment about black men being better dancers than white men (yes, really…)

          I saw Kimberle Crenshaw give a talk last year and she was asked what she thought about people using her term to talk about intersections of oppression aside from sex and race. She said something along the lines of “well I guess if they want to do that, whatever… but that’s not what my theory was actually about” [NB: she was a lot more eloquent than this!]

          The way in which very many white people have felt not only comfortable, but actually really self-congratulatory, in misappropriating the ideas of a black female professor is really unpleasant I think. “I’m intersectional actuuuually” has become the new “some of my best friends are black”, as well as a way of legitimising any claims you care to make about your own oppression. “I’m a rich white guy who sometimes wears lipstick” => “my oppression is just as serious as that of a poor black women because of intersectionality or something”

          I wonder if people would feel so comfortable throwing around a term they didn’t understand if it had been coined by a white man… just a thought.

          • Morag

            “Yes, I think a lot of social justice warriors don’t really understand what ‘intersectionality’ means. e.g. in this Paris Lees article (trigger warning: dumb-ass)…”

            Rosie, I ignored your trigger warning, and then I got triggered. When I read this:

            “Among men there is a hierarchy, with rich, strong white men at the top, and everyone else underneath. It’s called intersectionality. Look it up.”

            What Paris Lees has taught me is that his porn-soaked misogyny intersects with his stupidity.

            But, it’s working out well for him! According to his hierarchy of intersectionality — which is like one’s very own personal oppression calculator — all women oppress him, and therefore he can tell them to shut up.

            Yup, that, and a little bit of lipstick, is what we call intersectionality!

        • “It seems to be almost entirely performative. (A way to show your one of the “good Whites” or “good men” by mere identity.)”

          That’s a good way to put it. When it comes to proving that they are not racist, liberals are guilty of telling rather than showing. Instead of just condemning racism, they brag about how intersectional, inclusive and diverse they are.

          This talk of the need for “diversity” in a movement implies that non-whites have nothing to bring to their movement accept their non-whiteness. The reason why I am upset that there are a disproportionately small amount of non-whites in feminist and radical leftist movements is because this indicates that there are probably many human beings out there who are intelligent and insightful and could be making great contributions to the fight for a better world, but aren’t because they are held up by racism and poverty. I am not after “diversity” for diversity’s sake. I want radical movements to bring forward the best political activists there are and I recognise that the odds of these activists all being white, middle income, university students is pretty low.

          “How are pay equality, anti-discrimination laws, being allowed to be more than a mother, anti-rape politics, reproductive rights, etc White women’s concerns?”

          Because only white women can have properties other than their whiteness, LOL. *Sarcasm*.

          Seriously though, I don’t think it’s those things that liberal, self-proclaimed “intersectional” feminists are upset about. It is the fact that second wave feminists opposed pornography (along with the sexuality represented by it) and femininity. They think only white, middle income people would be opposed to such things, because in their view morality is for white people (which is, of course, exactly what white supremacists say.)

          I guess they have this stereotype in their head of the prudish, highly conventional, bourgeois woman from the Victorian era. They think the stereotype is okay because it appears to be anti-white, but it is a gender stereotype as much as it is a racial stereotype. It also plays into the stereotype that non-whites are more animalistic and out-of-control. Those may be somewhat valued traited in the eyes of sex-positive liberals (kind of like the “slut/whore” stereotype), but non-whites, especially non-white women, have to live with the consequences of these stereotypes (e.g. rape, sexual assault, mass incarceration.)

          • andeväsen

            I think being a modern SJW is at odds with being a feminist. I do not think the paths intersect at all.

            Black and white SJWs care more than anything else about being the first in line to write that blog telling off a female for speaking, usually emphasising some form of privilege (if she is a black lesbian, say that she is ablist) for “ignoring/silencing a large part of the population”.

            And that’s their job description. How rewarding.

          • Meghan Murphy

            The primarily goals of sjw are to gain retweets and twitter followers (i.e. attention). I think it must be addictive…

        • Sasha

          I couldn’t agree more. And yes, many self-described “intersectional feminists” clearly do not believe that white women are oppressed. Which is just bizarre to me.

          It also makes me very sad because I grew up thinking feminism isn’t for girls/women like me. My mom believed the same thing. Actually she still does. We didn’t know any feminists and thought of feminism as a movement for middle class women, especially those on college campuses. No one in my entire extended family had ever set foot on a college campus. My mom has a tenth grade education because her parents needed another full-time income and although she was way more academically inclined than her brothers, she was the only girl so she had to drop out and get a job. I also dropped out when I was 16, though for different reasons (combination of severe bullying/sexual harassment in school, abusive alcoholic dad at home, and at-the-time-undiagnosed mental illness).

          I’ve had a rough life–poverty, homelessness, prostitution, many rapes, torture, beatings, drug addiction and other crap I don’t want to get into here–and much of that was because I was born female. But I’m also white so I guess in the eyes of modern feminism, none of it really matters?

          Clearly there is no place for me in liberal “intersectional” feminism. Had I not discovered radical feminism, I would still believe that feminism isn’t for women like me.

          • Mar Iguana

            “And yes, many self-described “intersectional feminists” clearly do not believe that white women are oppressed.”

            Here’s the wonderful world of privilege white women enjoy: They get the bestest and mostest crumbs off their masters’ tables. They get the biggest targets on their backs to enable non-white men to stick it to the white man if they “score” one of their women. They get to be vilified by Middle Eastern fundamentalists for being sluts whose filthy influence “their” women need to be sheltered from, justifying their attacks on the decadent West. They get to be painted as uppity and ruined by feminism, forcing poor, widdle white Masters of the Universe to troll economically depressed, third world countries for women so downtrodden they’ll jump at the chance to marry assholes, and be good, submissive little wives. They get the honor of being the most highly prized by pimps because they bring in more money from the johns. They get to be discounted by non-white feminists and accused of the racism created by white men. They are cut no slack whatsoever if they fail to be the very best of mothers possible considering their privileged access to money and other resources.

            And, so much more. Yeah, life is just a bowl of cherries for white women.

            BTW, I’m not white.

    • fdsha

      as a woc I definitely think that “intersectionality” as a concept has been HIJACKED (it was invented by a black woman) and is USED by (largely white) social justice warriors to pat themselves on the backs and shut up women who don’t fall in line with their male-identified (i.e aligned with the male point of view) B.S.

      Intersectionality as simply a concept I think COULD be sound and useful to feminist analysis, but these social justice 3rd wavers are intentionally misunderstanting and misusing it, twisting it to mean exactly the opposite of what it actually was invented to mean. Cursory research into its history shows this.

    • Sam Berg

      I think the liberal position on prostitution is the clearest example of how liberals treat intersectionality is a self-serving buzzword. The overwhelming majority of prostituted women and girls are brown, black, red, and yellow and that is directly because of the impoverishment and racism these females face on top of being born female.

      Yet liberals bleat on about the empowerfulmentarianism of sex as ‘work’ instead of connecting olde tyme sexual slavery to modern women’s sexual slavery, as if there aren’t still elderly women alive who were called Comfort Women while their prostituted daughters and granddaughters are currently called Sex Workers.

  • Rhiannon Poole

    What she said backstage was the most pertinent. And in light of a film I saw last night, this might be a good time to revisit a very celebrated speech and wonder if perhaps it was not such a glorious moment for black women….. ”I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the SONS of former slaves and the SONS of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of BROTHERHOOD.” Now we might ask ourselves why despite the black civil rights achievements, the daughters of former slaves and the daughters of former slaveowners alike are still no safer in their own homes or on the streets from those very brothers themselves. I have a dream that one day a united sisterhood will knock that table down.

  • Oh.. intersectionality.

    The bash-club, together with TERF.

    It reminds me when I published this comic ( about the response I have when I spoke about feminism against other subjects (racism). And the fact that people who are really willing to listen to me when I speak about other kind of discriminations are more willing to dismiss everything falling under the feminist scope.

    I got a very agressive comment about how I did not understand shit about internationality. The commentator thought I was a white dude, automatically assuming that an articulate person with a fancy job-title (title only though :p) was automatically white, and could never be a colored queer woman. Which is telling more about her racism than my understanding of concepts…


  • andeväsen

    Listening to the whole of her acceptance speech and backstage stuff, there are two words that Arquette could have substituted – “gay men and men of colour” instead of “gay people and people of colour”. I do not particularly hold this against her as most women are conditioned to say “people” when they mean to invoke “men” when they are asking for something.

    Anyhow – none of her critics addressed or even acknowledged any of the other 99% of Arquette’s speech than those two words. It is not just white twittersexists who are eager to censure Arquette. Black SJWs are also at the forefront of doing so.

    Here is a political commentator, who is a WOC, whose article asks, “Patricia Arquette wants people of color to fight for women. What have I been doing?” She said that Arquette, “made it seem as if the issues of the latter groups were all wrapped up nicely, and it was now time to focus on the white ladies.”

    She then cites that black transgender women have been killed and implies that Arquette does not mind this.

    The byline of her article states that “Those who discriminate against me don’t distinguish between my race, gender and sexual orientation. But some feminists do”. She is implying that these feminists are worthy of more censure than those who discriminate against her. This implication is made explicit within the article: “When large populations of people are ignored or their issues are met with a silence – largely from white women”. It is white women who ignore and meet with silence the “issues” of large populations of people. White women are largely the ones behind silencing large populations, according to this WOC SJW.

    She then laments that the feminist movement is easier to conquer once divided, accusing white women of doing so, rather than commentators like herself. She repeats this several times in her piece, that white women are particularly keen to commit the heinous crime of “separat[ing] the discrimination we experience as a result of our gender from that we experience as a result of our race”.

    Then comes a bizarre paragraph in which she completely loses me: “As a black woman, I cannot segregate one part of my identity from the other; those who discriminate against me don’t separate out their racism from their sexism from their homophobia. I am a woman, but I am a black, bisexual woman; those things operate together to disprivilege me. Ending discrimination against white women doesn’t end discrimination for me; history has show us instead that it can actually make the unique discrimination I experience as a black woman – not simply a black person – worse”

    She seems to be saying that the people who discriminate against her are racists, sexists and homophobes all at once. She has never experienced sexist discrimination from anti-racists, and she has never experienced racist discrimination from LGBT-SJWs. Those who discriminate against her are the full trifecta or they are nothing. This seems practically unlikely but possible. It could be more understandable if she was speaking of systems of inequality rather than individuals but she clearly states that it is “those who discriminate against me” that she is describing. However, apparently history has shown her that ending discrimination for white women (apparently this has happened in history) has made things worse for her as a black woman, and this time she does a dramatic U-turn and is suddenly capable of distinguishing between a black woman and a black person.

    As a WOC myself, this is garbage. I am struggling to explain this line of thinking as representing anything but misogyny. Feel free to aim fire at your sisters, as long as they are white, and blame them for dividing “the movement”.

    Half of this was an exercise in placing words in Arquette’s mouth: saying that Arquette was chiding her personally for not doing enough, saying that Arquette wanted help for white women, and implying that she did not mind about black transgender women’s murders. The other half was a misdescribed description of intersectional feminism. Sandwiched in between are statements about “some feminists” and “white women” being villains.

    It just cannot have been written in good faith.

  • Mar Iguana

    “What she said, during her acceptance speech, was this: ‘To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.”

    I disagree that this was what she said. She was not addressing every woman who gave birth AND every taxpayer and citizen. She said to every woman who gave birth TO every taxpayer and citizen. In other words mothers, without whom there would be no taxpayers or citizens.

    It is telling that all it takes to remove mothers as the sole subject of that sentence is one little comma. It’s an important distinction since fatherhood is literally worshiped worldwide while mothers are treated like subhuman broodmares or mother dogs, AKA bitches.

    I’ve played the clip over and over:

    The subject is mothers, not taxpayers and citizens. All mothers are women. All taxpayers and citizens are not women. Not all taxpayers and citizens labor under the burden of the wage gap.

    I had no interest in seeing “Boyhood” because it seems just one more movie about boys or men. Now I want to see it because maybe it’s just as much, if not actually more, about the mother than the boy. Of course, not as many tickets would be sold for a movie entitled “Motherhood.”

    • ArgleBargle

      Mar, you are right. I hear it that way too, and it makes sense in context.

      • Mar Iguana

        Yeah, because Mr. God forbid (literally) that women be acknowledged or appreciated for creating every human being that ever was, is, or ever will be. The womb envy that is the keystone of patriarchy must be denied at any cost.

        • snobo

          I know this discussion ended days ago but I just felt like saying,

          my problem with Arquette’s statement was defining women as people who give birth to citizens and taxpayers rather than as citizens and taxpayers ourselves. I’m not sure mothers get erased any more than women without children.

          • Mar Iguana

            It is obvious women are citizens and taxpayers, mothers or not. Do you honestly not realize total control of women’s reproduction of the species is the central tenet of patriarchy; that it is crucial that patriarchy denigrate, discount and co-opt the power to create human beings? Whether a woman chooses not to have children, or is not able to, she is still forced to live under the global rule of male supremacy.

            Your “problem” is the attempt to play divide and conquer, to pit mothers against non-mothers in the oppression olympics when the fact is that we are all in the same boat; all women everywhere.

            Men lost control of reproduction in the ’70s and they are hell bent on getting it back if they have to destroy the entire planet to do so. Men do not want women competing with them in “their” world. If men wanted their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters to receive equal pay for equal work, we would have it by now. They do not therefore we don’t.

            Their arsenal to keep women out of “their” world includes religion, porn, violence and junk science. But, nothing is as effective in knocking women out of the running as the forced having and nurturing of children.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Wow. A comma really does make a difference, eh? I can’t figure out for sure, listening to the clip, either way, but I wouldn’t discount your interpretation. It certainly makes sense.

      • Mar Iguana

        WomensEnews got it right:

        In her acceptance speech for her role in “Boyhood,” Arquette opened by saying: “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody’s equal rights, it is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

  • Nasstasia

    Thank you to Megan Murphy and all the critically thinking commenters! As a 32 year old white woman living in a predominantly white corner of Canada, I am veritably surrounded by white feminist SJWs who are in my extended circle and who are constantly jumping down each others throats a la Patricia Arquette; I witness and experience the microcosm of this on a regular basis and its fucking exhausting. The over arching message of so called inter-sectionalist feminists is “you’re a white woman, shut the fuck up, you know nothing, there is no such thing as a united womanhood”. So I have actually just shut the fuck up at this point. Its such a hostile and discouraging environment that I realize I am just not welcome at all and wonder if feminism truly has died a devastating death in the midst of women’s displaced anger on each other, a la patriarchy.
    But I work in the real world supporting women in recovery from severe addiction every day. Regardless of their race, I witness the unity of women-hood in the recovery house daily. They all share more in common while in the home than not, and it connects them as does their female gender. We are inclusive, and transwomen receive support in our home too. There is an equal number of indigenous women and white women that find safety and support in the home. There is zero tolerance for discrimination – this, to me, is true inter-sectionalism. Discussing differences is necessary – fighting for justice in all intersecting aspects of oppression is necessary – but completely erasing the fact that there IS a united experience of female oppression on a global scale is just sad and backwards. How that oppression manifests varies greatly indeed – but it fucking exists. And we should fucking co-exist and fight together as women-identified creatures.
    I’m realizing I have to substantially censor myself in any so called feminist discussions at this juncture, otherwise fear the hyper-defensive wrath of another self-proclaimed patting-them-selves-on-the-back intersectionalist who takes every single goddamn critique, no matter how compassionately delivered, as a personal affront to their “identity”. And ugh, don’t even get me started on the Oppression Olympics. Its a veritable shit-show over here!
    Anyways, thanks to all the WOMEN identified commenters on this thread. My white SJW feminists just don’t believe that WOC exist who are also critical of their war tactics – they assume to be speaking on behalf of all WOC – assuming that all WOC buy-in to the hijacked, distorted, divisive, and self-absorbed, egotistical version of intersectionalism. It’s important to critique the faults and short falls of feminism, to push for TRUE intersectionality as espoused by Krenshaw in this succint phrase: “In every generation and in every intellectual sphere and in every political moment, there have been African American women who have articulated the need to think and talk about race through a lens that looks at gender, or think and talk about feminism through a lens that looks at race. So this is in continuity with that.” NEWSFLASH she was not saying that there is NO unification of women or that WOC don’t suffer gender oppression within their own communities – the opposite in fact. Like Angela Davis (if i was a SJW I would brag about how she is one of my feminist idols every chance i got) she BROUGHT a FEMINIST lens to the civil rights movement. She acknowledged and called out that there was gender oppression within african american communities and within the civil rights movement. Meanwhile, I’ve heard friends of mine proclaim that their is no united experience of womenhood, and in addition, be downright offended if they’d identified as a woman up until a week prior and bite my head off because I didn’t get the memo that they are now gender-queer.
    Its a minefield out there. But like other slightly older feminists, I am crucified for trying to have a balanced perspective of things and accused of not being intersectionalist enough.
    However, also like many other exasperated older feminists, I work in the real world supporting women everyday and witness true intersectionlism in the every day – women identified persons who seek support, shelter, and acceptance from a world that has treated them like garbage their entire lives – because of their race, because of their orientation, because of their gender/sex, – and while all these oppresions intersect differently for each of them, they all come together in the Womens Supportive Recovery Program and share meals and stories, laughter and tears in the Womens recovery home.
    Yeah, I guess real world intersectionalism is VERY different then the internet variety: in one, women come together and in the other, they are at war.

    • Nasstasia

      also, like how intersectionlist is it to assume that all WOC think alike and all white women think alike? just like assuming that all WOC love Beyonce and her brand of feminism and also, by loving Beyonce you prove yourself to be a good white intersectionlist feminist. *eyeroll*
      okay so I was listening to Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston obsessively and nothing else from the age of 6 – does that make me an outdated and irrelevant white feminist? Sorry I don’t like Beyonce’s music. But I actually am really thankful that she identifies as a feminist and is vocal about womens rights and doesn’t jumble her message with needlessly complicated and false intersectionalism at every turn. Its simple and refreshing: women are oppressed, yup. All over the planet. Some WAY more so than others. Yup. So I may not like Beyonce’s music (cause I don’t really like ANY new music these days) but I thank her for identifying as a woman and a feminist and not jumbling it up beyond understanding. Of course there are countless critiques on how her brand of feminism isn’t good enough either. No woman is spared in this war. I’m just gonna go over here now, listen to “Aretha Sings The Blues” and bury myself in blankets and never go on the internet again.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Twitter feminism says that all women of colour and working class women are represented by Twitter and anyone who says otherwise is not “intersectional.” Also anyone who criticizes Beyonce’s feminism is part of “white feminism.”

        By that logic bell hooks isn’t an intersectional feminist and is also a “white feminist.”

        Also, the vast majority of working class and marginalized women are not on Twitter.

        • “Also, the vast majority of working class and marginalized women are not on Twitter.”

          Definitely. Of all the women I know IRL, I’m the only one who’s on Twitter. We don’t have furniture or a TV, we sleep on the floor and wash our clothes in the bath tub–but I got an ancient computer running Windows XP and a monitor sitting on a cardboard box. Internet access is a priority for us, and while I know other low income women who now have home internet, none of them are on Twitter. Or consider themselves feminists.

          And I’m sure as hell not going to recommend they check out online feminism. It’s not that there isn’t good stuff online–like this site–but it’s hard to escape the bigoted, toxic swill if you spend any time at all browsing feminist blogs and social media. If your day-to-day reality is a struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, you really don’t need dozens of people jumping on you because you innocently used a forbidden word.

          Nearly all online feminist spaces seem to be created by college-educated middle class women for college-educated middle class women. Yet most have no awareness of class, and for some reason self-identified “intersectional” feminists are the worst. They portray themselves as friends and allies of marginalized women, but their spaces are profoundly hostile to women who don’t know the “right” words (essentially terminology from elite liberal arts colleges) or whose stories don’t fit their preferred narratives or whose real-life experiences challenge what these feminists learned in their college courses or their online “social justice” bubble.

          Most middle class feminists are completely clueless about the lives of lower class women, and lower class women have no voice in popular media. Even when we could speak about our lives–like on the internet (those of us with access)–it’s extremely difficult to do so because most of us learned at any early age that we don’t matter and that no one cares what we think anyway. In a society that equates poverty with personal failure, with being unintelligent, ignorant, lazy, immoral, etc., it’s hard to “come out” as poor to people who aren’t (it absolutely affects what people think of you & your ideas and how they treat you–and not in a good way). It’s even harder to make yourself vulnerable by opening up about your life and to correct misconceptions middle class and wealthy people have about low income people. I do it occasionally, but 95% of the time, I bite my tongue. And then I feel shitty about not speaking up. But given the fragility of my existence, the cost is just too high. I’m sure countless other women are making the same calculation. And that really sucks for feminism.

          • marv

            You are a prisoner of the classes above you but it’s strikingly apparent your mind soars. Please keep flying with this flock.

          • Lee

            I think it’s a feature, not a bug, that so many middle-class feminists put such a high burden of entry into doing feminism right. It’s about making sure the wrong types (“trash” — poor, old, without degrees, etc.) don’t mix in their circles, more than any kind of genuine social justice goal.

            For example, just try talking about the kinds of environments poor and working class women face WRT to porn, the kind of terror they have to deal with because some hyper-privileged 20-year-old women convince themselves they feel liberated by it. I remember one story about a woman working in a prison who complained about the prisoners having access to violent porn and how much worse her job has gotten because of it. The liberal feminists can’t touch that one, it’s against the rules, so no support for her or the millions like her. What is the effect of porn for women who have to join the military or who have no choice but to try to work in construction? Let alone tech, which is one of the few places working class women have at least some chance at good money.

            Not intending to imply it’s all about porn, but that reality is just totally invisible to people whose cute little yuppie partners are into some cute fetish stuff. Or women who know their class status affords them at least some safety buffer from all the pornsick guys they work with and live around.

  • marv

    ‘…we find ourselves in a situation wherein we can’t even get the bare minimum — the least radical of all achievements, as far as “equality” goes (and many of us are looking at liberation, not equality, in any case) — pay equity. We literally are not being paid what men are to do the same work. Not that my particular concern, with regard to feminism, is ensuring those who are making millions as actors are all making the same millions, but just this year, the Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars. I mean, it’s ridiculous that, in this day and age, we are still fighting for these basics.’

    Yes it’s a lose a lot win a few conundrum. The whole Hollywood Royalty industry prolongs the existence of capitalism in numerous ways. For one thing white male capital owns it.

    Societal wide class divisions on the basis of property and finances are rarely questioned by celebrities. Only female/race salary and power discrepancies within each economic class are deemed unfair.

    I am not making an argument against liberal reforms. Women and people of colour deserve an equitable share in the spoils of the market economy. Just to reaffirm that revisions in themselves don’t subvert the establishment. They make it palatable, taming the opposition. The masters remain masters and slaves slaves, maintained in part by an addiction to the drug of star power that keeps us enraptured and oblivious through entertainment. Looks like trance plants come in human form too.