Koa Beck on White Feminism

Koa Beck: White Feminism

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I loved Koa Beck’s book, White Feminism, and underlined at least a third of it whilst reading. This conversation takes us through what white feminism even is, how we can focus on structural change, and how the pandemic has highlighted a number of systemic issues that are causing women to be overwhelmed, overworked and burned out. Koa is so knowledgeable and generous in sharing her research, and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The definition of white feminism as a specific approach to gender equality that defines feminist progress through individual wins.
  • How the discussion about outsourcing women’s labour effectively erases the women who come into your home to help, taking us away from those women.
  • How companies use the word ‘family’ to describe work enables them to blur boundaries and ask more of staff.
  • How you can use the power that you have within the system to make a positive impact.
  • Money as the rationalisation for many decisions in white collar work, for example not hiring older women or disabled people.
  • Think in terms of systems rather than people, and address things via policy rather than addressing individual behaviour.
  • How job descriptions ask for qualities that limit the candidate pool, and removing university or experience barriers can enable more people to contribute.
  • That’s what Power should be used to improve the quality of life for marginalised people.
  • White feminism is the only approach to gender equality that merges profits and empowerment. In many other feminisms money isn’t seen as the thing that is going to uplift and change an entire community, even in contexts where they are talking about money like higher wages or paid parental leave.
  • Traditionally female labour in the home is not economised under capitalism, and white feminism has ignored that aspect. Many other feminisms have anchored a lot of their understanding of gender oppression from exactly that domestic load. 
  • Women’s labour is just deemed infinite
  • Capitalism stunts the conversation about social justice. “It’s the way in which we’ve economically assigned value to certain tasks over others that is the fundameltal problem.”
  • The pandemic has just expected so much of women and we are home right now being undervalued and doing everything for free, because our structure has not changed despite what may have been seen as feminist wins. 
  • White feminism has not been concerned with domestic labour. It’s normalised to be burnt out and undervalued, and to do work that nobody sees but everyone expects from you.
  • How the conversation around the inequality of the domestic load is foundational to the conversation of feminism.
  • Koa’s advice to her younger self to protect her life outside of work.

About Koa Beck

Praesent dapibus, neque id cursus faucibus, tortor neque egestas augue, eu vulputate magna eros eu erat. Aliquam erat volutpat. Nam dui mi, tincidunt quis, accumsan pKoa Beck is the former editor-in-chief of Jezebel. Previously, she was the executive editor at Vogue and cohost of “The #MeToo Memos” on WNYC’s The Takeaway. Her writing has appeared in The AtlanticThe New York ObserverThe Guardian, and Esquire, among others. For her reporting prowess, she has been interviewed by the BBC and has appeared on many panels about gender and identity at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Columbia Journalism School to name a few. She lives in Los Angeles. 

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