Elite white women have branded feminism, promising an apolitical individual empowerment along with sexual liberation and satisfaction, LGBTQ inclusion, and racial solidarity. As Rafia Zakaria expertly argues, those promises have been proven empty and white feminists have leant on their racial privilege and sense of cultural superiority. Drawing on her own experiences as an American Muslim woman, as well as an attorney working on behalf of immigrant women, Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism that forges true solidarity by bringing Black and brown voices and goals to the fore.
Ranging from the savior complex of British feminist imperialists to the condescension of the white feminist–led “development industrial complex” and the conflation of sexual liberation as the “sum total of empowerment,” Zakaria presents an eye-opening indictment of how whiteness has contributed to a feminist movement that solely serves the interests of upper middle-class white women.
Attorney and journalist Zakaria (Veil) makes a lucid and persuasive argument that feminism must address its “problematic genealogies” of whiteness... Tackling complex philosophical ideas with clarity and insight, Zakaria builds an impeccable case for the need to rebuild feminism from the ground up. Readers will want to heed this clarion call for change. —Publishers Weekly
Rafia Zakaria's Against White Feminism is the book I have been waiting for. This landmark work will forever change how we view the feminist movement and our place in it. —Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing
Zakaria's Against White Feminism is a brilliant, bracing, and deeply necessary text. Showing how feminism had systematically centered white women's voices, and excluded others', this is a polemic that couldn't be more urgent in improving feminism as a movement. —Kate Manne, author of Down Girl
Intellectually resourceful and passionately argued, Rafia Zakaria's sharp and salutary essay expands and refines our ideas of freedom, justice and equity.—Pankaj Mishra, author of Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race, and Empire
Full of painful truths about how one kind of feminism can dominate and silence women. A fantastic book.—Nadifa Mohamed, author of The Fortune Men
This ambitious, elegant and brilliantly argued polemic shows us how white supremacy harms Black and brown women, and offers a different politics in its place. I am grateful for this book.—Myriam Chingona Gurba De Serrano, author of Mean
Zakaria's frank, spirited critique of feminism's historical complicity with empire and capital, its appalling insularity, and its deep-seated provincialism opens onto a shimmering vision of true solidarity. This is, quite simply, a transformative book.—Merve Emre, author of The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway
Uncomfortable, often coruscating, always challenging in the best ways and never less than riveting, this book is essential reading, and especially for anyone white who identifies as a feminist. Rafia Zakaria neatly dismantles the stand-on-the-shoulders-of-giants school of white feminism that in failing to understand the intertwined history of the women’s movement and white supremacy continues to perpetuate the inequalities it purports to address. She doesn’t just deliver punchy, corrective narratives, but achieves something at least as important in questioning where we get our ideas and encouraging critical thinking.—Catherine Mayer, author and co-founder of the Women's Equality Party