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Destler Dodge

Two weeks ago, Reporter published an article accusing Rochester's SlutWalk of exemplifying "white feminism" because it excluded trans*, intersex and gender non-conforming people. There were two issues with the article. 

The first is that "white feminism" was a term created by women of color to to criticize the mainstream feminist movement for focusing on white women's needs. As feminist Cate Young defines it, "White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour [sic]. It is 'one size-fits all' feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit." 

In the past, numerous people of color have criticized the international SlutWalk movement for excluding them. Yet, though Reporter accuses Rochester SlutWalk of embodying white feminism, race is barely mentioned in the entire article. The reporter did not appear to ask ask feminists of color about how they felt about SlutWalk or look to any of the pre-existing critiques by feminists of color. 

Arguably, a white person complaining that something is white feminism without engaging people of color is in fact an example of white feminism. The reporter appropriated a phrase created by people of color to criticize their exclusion, and then he excludes their voices and their experiences himself. 

The second issue is a matter of credibility. The reporter wrote: "It is through deeper investigation that a more insidious presence is found in the practices of the Rochester SlutWalk organizers. That is, a form of contradictory policies which selects the types of speakers allowed based on gender and sexual identity, regardless of their experiences."

This apparent deeper investigation does not appear anywhere within the article. The only evidence the reporter includes is one person's accusations that they were excluded on the basis of their gender identity. Let me be clear that I do not actually doubt the source's experience. The mainstream feminist, without a doubt, has problems with including trans*, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. 

However, since Reporter published this person's accusations as truth the reporter had a responsibility to make the source appear as credible as possible. He failed to do so. 

The reporter did not provide any evidence that supported the source's claims. The reporter did not appear to seek out additional sources or contact the organizers of SlutWalk for comment. There seems to have been no attempt to verify the source's claims, which ultimately is damaging to the source as it hurts the credibility of the whole article.