I love this mini-documentary. Eleven minutes and more than worth your time. In the video, women are discussing the racist implications of the beauty standard that demands whiteness and privileges being lighter. They also take on the term “exotic” and the class implications in many places due to skin colour. Fair or Not? The Snow White Complex is a full 11 minutes of important viewing.
The second magic trick I think the media and society often tries to pull is the idea that Everything is Great. They argue that there’s no need to fight racism, sexism, classism, ablism (discrimination based on ability), heterosexism (prejudice against those who don’t appear heterosexual), etc. The world is portrayed as discrimination-free. Everything’s wonderful! What are you all complaining about?
This strategy lowers our guard as we look at the world. It makes us less likely to ask questions about what the media is showing, or what the people around us believe. It makes class differences seem natural, as opposed to facilitated by history and institutions. This trick tries to convince us that “feminist” is an insult, and that the women’s movement is over. It wants to hide the racism present in our everyday lives.
It’s easy to fall for this trick, especially if you don’t face a lot of discrimination yourself. Of course you want a world where these things don’t exist! It would be lovely to think that we’ve achieved it, but that’s not the reality. The reality is that inequality is still part of many, many lives.
This magic trick can make it very uncomfortable to speak up when you see something wrong with the world. It puts pressure on people to go along with the story that everything’s working just fine, and it privileges people who don’t have to deal with the discrimination that they’re ignoring. It also offers a candy-sweet story that’s much easier to swallow than the truth that change still needs to come. Refusing to take what’s being fed isn’t always fun, but it’s necessary.
Part of my love of feminism is that it made the world make sense. Finally, I had people who would agree that there’s problems with the world, and they’re even trying to solve them! Kindred spirits. I met fellow believers at book signings, presentations, in classes and online. There are people who are looking at the world critically and doing more than pretending that we live without prejudice – they’re working to help create that world. Dismissing the illusion that the world is just wonderful made me able to understand the world around me.
Edit: Check out FeministFrequency, a great feminist youtube channel, for a video about how “straw feminists” are used in media to convince people that feminism is irrelevant and unnecessary in our “equal” world.