Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

Toxic Femininity: White Tears/Brown Scars

Listen to Toxic Femininity: White Tears/Brown Scars

Photograph of Hella Ibrahim, Ruby Hamad and Celeste Liddle

Hella Ibrahim, Ruby Hamad and Celeste Liddle at the Wheeler Centre

In 2018, Sydney journalist Ruby Hamad wrote an article for the Guardian that touched a nerve with readers around the world. The article, ‘How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour,’ was about the special and dangerous claims white women make to victimhood – in the workplace, in public debate, and in private interactions – and how these adversely affect and are wielded against women of colour.

The ‘damsel in distress’ tactic, Hamad wrote, is employed ‘to muster sympathy and avoid accountability, by turning the tables and accusing the accuser.’ 

She has since adapted the article into a new book, White Tears/Brown ScarsHosted by Hella Ibrahim, Hamad is joined at the Wheeler Centre by Arrernte activist and social commentator Celeste Liddle for a discussion about what happens when racism and sexism collide. 


Portrait of Ruby Hamad

Ruby Hamad

‘That the voices of Women of Colour are getting louder and more influential is a testament less to the accommodations made by the dominant white culture and more to their own grit in a society that implicitly – and sometimes explicitly – wants them to fail.’

Ruby Hamad is an author and PhD candidate in media studies and post-colonial studies at UNSW, where she is researching media criticism and coverage of Arabs and the Middle East. In 2018, Hamad’s Guardian article – ‘How White Women Use Strategic Tears to Silence Women of Colour’  – became a global flash point for debate around feminism’s intersection with racial and colonial oppression. Her new book is White Tears/Brown Scars.

Portrait of Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle is a proud Arrernte woman (traditional owner in Central Australia) who was born in Canberra and has been living in Melbourne since she was a teenager. She is a trade unionist, an activist, a feminist, a social commentator and an opinion writer.

Portrait of Hella Ibrahim

Hella Ibrahim

Hella Ibrahim is an editor with a passion for activism through writing and publishing. She works as a project editor at an education publishing company on weekdays, and is the founder and editorial director of Djed Press, an online publication that provides a paid platform for creators of colour.   

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.