Emma, Lena and Taylor: Listening for a Voice Like Mine in Feminism

Feminism has become a hot topic again, and thank god for that. Many young female celebrities have lent their voices to the loosely defined cause. Emma Watson, recently spoke at a UN conference making a declarative statement that she too is a feminist and encouraging men to enter the fold. Taylor Swift, long opposed to using the ‘f’ word has finally “come out” as a feminist after, I suppose, looking up the definition. Then there is Lena Dunham.

Lena Dunham, writer and producer of the show 'Girls' has arguably become the poster child for millennial women and feminism. Her new book is consider a must read for women and feminists. Her show which takes place in Brooklyn(but with an unsettling absence of people of color) is regarded as a truthful depiction of 20-somethings today. The actress/director/producer/vegan-dinner-thrower/hipster has been called "the voice of a generation" in several articles to date. I searched to find parallels between my life and hers that would permit her to be my "voice."

Yet, I cannot find much common ground with a white, upper-class woman, with two renowned artists for parents, who's had an article written about her teenaged dinner party in the New York Times. Who at one point attempted to get free labor from other artists. Her feminist concerns judging from her show, excerpts from her memoir, and her interviews are not my feminist concerns. They are cousins, twice removed.

The voices of Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, and Emma Watson cannot possibly speak for me or other women of color. I'm sure when they talk about their feminism they do not mean to do so, but with no other voices getting the mic- that's exactly what they're doing.

When women of color are ignored or silenced, and only one form of women gets to speak on the behalf of many, it is detrimental. It creates an impossibly narrow narrative of what feminism is, what it looks like, what it strives to solve, and who will benefit from it. Women that don't fit that image may decided that feminism isn't for them when, it is supposed to be.

Linda La Rue a black commentator during the Women's Movement of the 60's once said "Blacks are oppressed...white women are suppressed", and this rings true even today. Angela Davis spoke of double jeopardy and triple jeopardy; a bitter layer cake of subjugation that WoC face due to race, gender, class and sometimes sexuality. Our path to equality is inarguably a steeper one and so far removed from what white heteronormative feminists face.

The voices of feminists of color have always been viewed as secondary to the mainstream feminist movement. The world focused on Steinem, not Hughes and still today, it's not so different: We are either muted and can only hope that the progress made will trickle down to us, or we are brushed aside altogether not included in the "generation" at all.

As a young feminist I want to finally see a shared platform in the future. Lena Dunham cannot be my voice, but her experience speaks to some women and deserves to be heard. Emma Watson deserves to be heard, but so does Mia Mckenzie. So does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. So does Janet Mock. So does Amal al- Malki and other feminists from varied walks of life.

Our collective experiences could only create a real movement, the first of its kind.

Electra Telesford is a writer from Brooklyn(really from Brooklyn). You can find her pop-culture and political musings on twitter @electra_teles or contact her via e-mail telesford078@gmail.com

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