Bette Midler, the acclaimed 72-year-old Jewish actress, is very active on Twitter. Last night, this was to her downfall.
She tweeted (and has since deleted) a message calling women “the n-word of the world.” She explained the analogy: “raped, beaten, enslaved, married off, worked like dumb animals; denied education and inheritance; enduring the pain and danger of childbirth and life IN SILENCE for THOUSANDS of years.” Midler ended her tweet with, “They are the most disrespected creatures on earth.”
First of all: yikes. Black women exist, Bette. Where do they fit into that tweet?
Can you believe Bette Midler has never met a black woman?
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) October 5, 2018
I believe you meant well. Still, you crossed a line AND gave the impression that your suffering is commensurate with that of my ancestors. I don’t think that’s what you meant, at least I hope not.
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) October 5, 2018
She didn’t realize her mistake for nearly three hours, when she tweeted again, “I gather I have offended many by my last tweet.” Ya think? Midler continued, “‘Women are the…etc’ is a quote from Yoko Ono from 1972, which I never forget. It rang true then, and it rings true today, whether you like it or not. This is not about race, this is about the status of women; THEIR HISTORY.”
She then deleted that tweet.
She tried one last time, apologizing and blaming the Kavanaugh hearings:
The too brief investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh infuriated me. Angrily I tweeted w/o thinking my choice of words would be enraging to black women who doubly suffer, both by being women and by being black. I am an ally and stand with you; always have. And I apologize.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) October 5, 2018
(If that tweet gets deleted, too, it reads: “The too brief investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh infuriated me. Angrily I tweeted w/o thinking my choice of words would be enraging to black women who doubly suffer, both by being women and by being black. I am an ally and stand with you; always have. And I apologize.”)
Bette Midler’s tweets are unfortunately a prime example of white feminism. White feminism is generally a term for feminists who fail to be intersectional, to realize that as hard as it is for white women, it’s harder for black women, Latinx women, and Native women, and so on.
Also, she messed up the quote. The phrase, “Women is the [n-word] of the world” was not coined by Yoko Ono, but African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston (as this helpful Wikipedia article points out).
Midler’s apology is kind of a half-apology, and we hope she learns how to make her feminism intersectional.