Responses to Against White Feminism by Rafia Zakaria
January 20, 2023
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. PST
5 hours of CLE offered
This discussion explores Rafia Zakaria's new book Against White Feminism, which serves as a counter-manifesto to white feminism's alignment with colonial, patriarchal, and white supremacist ideals to center women of color. The panel participants will consider the legacy of the British feminist imperialist savior complex and what Zakaria describes as "the colonial thesis that all reform comes from the West" to the condescension of the white feminist-led "aid industrial complex" and the conflation of sexual liberation as the "sum total of empowerment."
The symposium will bring together international experts on race, feminism, and colonialism to discuss a wide-range of topics, including:
- How are race and colonialism interconnected?
- What are the root causes of the harm communities of color experience from white feminism?
- Will current governmental initiatives for racial equity and global harmony rectify the problem?
- What legal frameworks or legislation at the intersection of feminism and global developmental policies will be effective?
A radically inclusive, intersectional, and transnational approach to the fight for women’s rights.
Upper-middle-class white women have long been heralded as “experts” on feminism. They have presided over multinational feminist organizations and written much of what we consider the feminist canon, espousing sexual liberation and satisfaction, LGBTQ inclusion, and racial solidarity, all while branding the language of the movement itself in whiteness and speaking over Black and Brown women in an effort to uphold privilege and perceived cultural superiority. An American Muslim woman, attorney, and political philosopher, Rafia Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism in Against White Feminism, centering women of color in this transformative overview and counter-manifesto to white feminism’s global, long-standing affinity with colonial, patriarchal, and white supremacist ideals.
Covering such ground as the legacy of the British feminist imperialist savior complex and “the colonial thesis that all reform comes from the West” to the condescension of the white feminist–led “aid industrial complex” and the conflation of sexual liberation as the “sum total of empowerment,” Zakaria follows in the tradition of intersectional feminist forebears Kimberlé Crenshaw, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde. Zakaria ultimately refutes and reimagines the apolitical aspirations of white feminist empowerment in this staggering, radical critique, with Black and Brown feminist thought at the forefront.
Rafia Zakaria is the author of "The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan" (2015), Veil (2017), and "Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption" (2021).
She is a columnist for Dawn (Pakistan) and writes the Alienated column at The Baffler. She served on the Board of Amnesty International USA from 2009-2015. She is a research scholar at City University of New York's Colin Powell School of Global Leadership.
Thank you to our co-sponsor, LatCrit!