ColumnWho knows if Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus’ VMA confrontation was staged or not. It doesn’t really matter. But what does matter is that the stars’ heated brush up clearly brought to light the problem that is white feminism.
Let’s recap the whole Cyrus/Minaj scuff up first. It all started when Minaj got in a Twitter feud with Taylor Swift. Swift felt hurt when Minaj called out the VMA nominators for omitting her incredibly popular videos (“Anaconda” and “Feeling Myself”) from the award show’s nominees.
Minaj took to Twitter in July to vent about how race plays a big role everywhere, stating: “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” And she has a point. Slim, white bodies are “the norm” when it comes to projecting beauty in Hollywood and its periphery. This tweet made Swift think that Minaj was attacking her, and she responded with the following tweet: “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.”
Since then, Swift has apologized and Minaj accepted the pop star’s response. All was settled. And then came Miley…
Before Miley took the stage to host the VMAs, Cyrus did an interview the New York Times to promote the event. When the Times inevitably asked the controversial pop star about Minaj’s tweets, Cyrus responded in a pretty boneheaded way. Here’s the basic synopsis of her silly words via Teen Vogue:
“‘I saw that. I didn’t really get into it. I know there was some beef.’ Later on in the interview, she takes Nicki to task for not speaking to Taylor ‘with openness and love’ because ‘there’s a way to speak to people.’ Instead, she continues (now speaking to Nicki), ‘You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, ‘Eh, I didn’t get my VMA.’’ She finally finished with: ‘What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite.’”
Cyrus’ remarks are problematic for multiple reasons:
1. Teen Vogue aptly points out that Miley really screwed up when she policed Minaj’s “tweeting” tone. “White women chastising women of color (namely, black women) and policing their tone instead of listening or acknowledging their feelings is the epitome of White Feminism (that is, feminism that focuses on women as a whole without considering the differing experiences of LGBT women or women of color),” Teen Vogue reports.
2. The Vogue article also points out that Miley expects to be treated equally and freely no matter her sexual preference, but she did an absolutely marvelous job policing Minaj’s behavior.
3. In Miley’s NYT comments, she also asks Minaj to focus on bigger issues. I don’t know, but last time I checked it was pretty problematic when a black woman feels she’s being discriminated against because she’s not tall, white, and thin. I want to hear what Minaj has to say because I think the issues she’s trying to bring to light are incredibly important.
Now, we know that the issues surrounding white feminism are deeper than a conflict between two pop icons. But it’s these pop versions of conflict that bring the concept of white feminism into the public’s eye. I, for one, had no idea white feminism existed a mere few years ago. But I realized that I, too, have been a white feminist at times. But knowing my own ignorance opened my eyes to the reality that women of color make less money than white women, and have to clear many more obstacles than white women to achieve the same things.
Inclusive feminism should be the only feminism that people strive to follow. Because while all women are created equal, they sure as hell aren’t treated equal. And every white woman needs to wake-up and realize that.
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