Escaping culpability: An intersectional feminist analysis of gendered whiteness

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White women’s pivotal involvement in the maintenance of white supremacy in the US points to a necessary exploration of their whiteness. Historically and presently, many white women demonstrate their commitment to uphold their privileged position through their politics, beliefs, and daily interactions with whites and BIPOC. With some exceptions, most research on whiteness is broadly construed, not specific to women, and rarely draws from whites’ perceptions of race. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the raced and gendered perceptions of some white women and explore how they enact whiteness. The primary question guiding this study is: how do white women enact whiteness? I employed an intersectional feminist qualitative approach to perform twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews with white women in the South. The participants enacted whiteness through white ignorance, fragility, and innocence. The analysis revealed how these white women refused to implicate themselves within racism. This study brings attention to the ways in which white women sustain white supremacy and offers tools to disrupt whiteness.

Whiteness, Women