White feminist stories: locating race in representations of feminism in The Guardian

Terese Jonsson

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    The last decade has witnessed an increased visibility of grassroots feminist activism in Britain. This article concerns the representation of such activism in the left-leaning newspaper The Guardian, and focuses on issues related to race and whiteness. Drawing on anti-racist critiques of “white feminism,” the article presents a close reading of three articles which have appeared in recent years. Combining a content and narrative analysis, the article unpicks underlying assumptions about British feminism, and identifies three specific narrative techniques which are problematic in relation to race. These construct contemporary feminist activism as: (1) a continuation of a white feminist legacy; (2) a unified movement of “like-minded” individuals; and (3) “diverse” and “happy.” Presented as common sense, these narratives erase power differences between women, as well as a multitude of feminist organising in Britain, including black British feminism. While anti-racist feminists repeatedly challenge such representations, including occasionally on The Guardian's own blog, this appears to have little effect on the dominant constructions of feminism in the more prominent news and feature articles. This resistance to change highlights the continued unequal power relations between white feminists and feminists of colour, and the persistence of whiteness in defining feminism within mainstream liberal media.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1012-1027
    Number of pages16
    JournalFeminist Media Studies
    Issue number6
    Early online date30 Apr 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


    • British feminism
    • representation
    • race
    • whiteness
    • The Guardian


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