While feminists rushed to Jennifer Lawrence’s defense after this week’s leak of naked celebrity photos, an African American singer and actress went undefended because of her race. So goes the charge being leveled against “white feminists” and “mainstream feminism” on Twitter after naked selfies allegedly taken by Jill Scott went into circulation.
all the white feminists writing about jennifer lawrence, kate upton, m.e. winstead who haven’t said anything about jill scott… what’s up? — ..With Sharper Teeth (@OTSWST) September 4, 2014
Sooooo Jennifer Lawrence nudes were leaked yesterday? But no one saw them…. Yet, Twitter still let “Twitter” circulate Jill Scott’s? — Carrie Bradshaw (@Trap_Bunny) September 5, 2014
waits for mainstream feminism to tweet about privacy violations for Jill Scott the way they did for Jennifer Lawrence pic.twitter.com/UoEbCgQ9Bc
— WaifX (@WaifX) September 3, 2014
Scott said one of the photos was of her — and one was not — and offered an eloquent response on Twitter:
3) you are not a part of my village therefore making your attempt to harm me null. I’m not even delayed. Shame for spreading. Shame 4 adding — ⭐Jill Scott⭐ (@missjillscott) September 4, 2014
4) I love and appreciate my body. My style has always been graceful. Love Village I see you & feel you too. Thank you for being beautifully — ⭐Jill Scott⭐ (@missjillscott) September 4, 2014
But as Scott took the high road, the despicable comments her appearance elicited from Internet trolls were hard to ignore. Scott, after all, doesn’t look much like Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Did her race and physique provoke a different reaction? “Unlike the seedy but flattering (if you can call perverse come-ons and sexual innuendo such) responses being tossed out in response to Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos, Jill Scott’s photos were met with a barrage of cruel, body-shaming tweets,” Julie Sprankles wrote on She Knows. “Both women are talented. Both women are stunning. So what’s with the wildly dissimilar responses to these women’s photos? Is it due to their inherently different body types?”
More worrying than white feminism not riding for Jill Scott like they did for J-Law is the body-shaming comments from black men *and* women. — HRH Gugu Mhlungu (@GugsM) September 4, 2014
Feminism’s racial divide is as old as the Combahee River Collective Statement — and perhaps dates back to Sojourner Truth. It’s a minefield.
“Black feminism is championing a more nuanced understanding of how oppression and privilege operate,” Lola Okolosie wrote in the Guardian earlier this year. “We, all of us, must understand that at the level of the individual, we can at differing points occupy positions of privilege.”
Whether one agrees with Okolosie or not, outrage over the purported lack of outrage on Scott’s behalf seems to have opened an old wound. “Although we as Black women have integrated into feminism, there does exist this fine invisible line made up of white privilege and the double-edged sword that still makes Black women somewhat of the secondary party,” Ariel Leconte wrote on Revolutionary in Pink Pumps. She added: “The Black woman’s body has never had any protection in society.”