RaceSex & Gender
white feminism: the suffrage movement was racist and elitist
By Erin White
August 8, 2018
White feminism is and has historically been trash because, well, of its marriage to whiteness, or white supremacy. Since women’s rights via the suffrage movement of the 19th and 20th century, in fact. While history has spun a passive image of white women seeking right’s for their gender, the reality was that white supremacy still very much informed the way figures like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Even though, some of these women—like Stanton—espoused messages of “fairness” in the most general of terms for all women was quick to sell out the intersectional issues of black women who were largely excluded from mainstream organizing but did so as an individual black suffragette. As an advocate for alleged fairness towards women, Stanton publically promoted violent anti-black sentiments against black men, characterizing them as Sambos and rapists. Still, immensely powerful black voices like Sojourner Truth, advocated for women’s rights and in 1857 at the Akron, Ohio woman’s convention gave the historic “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.
But as the post-Civil War suffrage movement picked up the pace, it becomes clear that the white women and black women were using different fundamental arguments for their reasoning as to why gaining the vote was necessary. Where white women aimed to be treated as equals amongst their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, black women were aiming to give voice to the entirety of the black community. And when it came time for white women to gain voting rights through virtue of white personhood they left black women to fight for themselves while simultaneously villainizing black men as violent rapists.
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