Scarlett Johansson and the perils of white feminism – Diep Tran – WEDNESDAY, MAR 29, 2017 04:00 PM PDT


By starring in “Ghost in the Shell,” Johansson shows that her intersectional feminism stops at her bottom line

Scarlett Johansson and the perils of white feminism

Ever since Donald Trump was elected, well-meaning white liberals have made their feelings known about where they stand in today’s divisive, bigoted climate: They are allies. They will wear safety pins and show up to at protests in order to show people of color, LGBTQ+ folks and other underrepresented groups that white people stand with them, too.

Scarlett Johansson is one of those people. In January she was one of the speakers at the Women’s March on Washington, an event coordinated by women of color and whose platform emphasized intersectionality. At the march, she addressed Trump, saying, “I ask you to support all women and our fight for equality in all things, including the fight to be recognized as individuals.”

It’s a lovely sentiment, one that is worth supporting. Except I’m not sure she really means it.

A few weeks later in an interview with Marie Claire, Johansson commented on the “Ghost in the Shell” whitewashing controversy. When asked whether she felt the charge of whitewashing with regard to her playing a Japanese character was fair, she answered, “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”

And then she pivoted: “Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.”

Article continues:

The Princess Effect – By SARAH KENDZIOR July 02, 2014


How women’s magazines demean powerful women—even when they’re trying to celebrate them.

On June 18, the Hearst Corporation announced that Alyssa Mastromonaco, the former White House deputy chief of staff for President Barack Obama, would shortly join the publishing juggernaut as “an ambassador for the Marie Claire brand.” Mastromonaco, whose tasks will include “providing insight on trends and women to watch,” says she is excited about the move. Marie Claire, she notes in the press release, “not only produces gorgeous fashion editorial and provides cultural insights but also helps its readers navigate world news and get smart on global women’s issues.”

Providing “fashion editorial” and “getting smart on global women’s issues” might seem like mutually exclusive goals. But for women profiled as political players, there is rarely a chance to choose between them. The personal is political, the saying goes, but for women, the political is removed from the person, replaced by trite obsessions with clothes, hair, child care choices and exercise routines. The media’s preoccupation with such trivia is no mere relic of an earlier era. Even today, several generations removed from the devastating critique of their triviality that was at the heart of first-wave feminism, Marie Claire and other women’s magazines remain obsessed with the appearance of female public figures, an obsession that still extends far beyond them into leading news publications like the New York Times and theWashington Post. You can take the woman out of the woman’s magazine, but the style of coverage—and it is all about style—remains the same.

For nine years, Mastromonaco guided Obama’s political trajectory behind the scenes. In 2011, the New Republic listed her as one of “Washington’s Most Powerful, Least Famous People”; according to POLITICO, she “managed nearly every aspect of Obama’s political rise.” But even as she guided the life of the man running the most powerful country in the world, she remained typecast in the media in the two (very contradictory) roles allowed for women in public life: at once a Machiavellian maneuverer and a cupcake-eating cheerleader.

Here’s a 2014 New York Times article with her in the scary role. It opens with a sober description of Mastromonaco’s appearance: “Her reddish hair is colored; stress turned it prematurely white years ago.” She is called “a secret weapon” with “a power that is relatively scary to people.” Advisers note she remembers things about Obama, for whom it is her job to remember things, in “somewhat disturbing detail.” In contrast, a 2008 Washington Post profileinfantilized Mastromonaco to the point of actual infancy: “Her signature blend of extroverted insistence on organization and political savvy asserted itself when she threw an elaborate party for one of her teachers,” the Post recalls of the deputy chief of staff’s seminal nursery school days. “She called a meeting with her fellow 4-year-olds and gave each of them an assignment: cupcakes, streamers, balloons.”