Hundreds of years of fighting for equality, and we’re not quite there yet. The world has been tossed with race, ethnicity, gender, sexual, and other inequalities. Having to deal with injustice is challenging. But having to cope with more of those can become overwhelming. And so, more than three decades ago, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia and UCLA, coined the term intersectionality.
What is intersectional feminism?
People’s social identities can overlap, creating compounding experiences of discrimination. Intersectionality is an approach that centers on coexisting forms of oppression in order to understand them better and find appropriate solutions. When talking about intersectional feminism, it’s a framework that identifies and acknowledges women’s overlapping identities, providing a unique view on their experience of oppression and discrimination.
In other words. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Feminism, as we know it, puts middle-class, white women in prominence. I don’t want to say that other voices are laid aside, but they are often misheard. If feminism is supposed to represent women, it also has to attend to those diverse voices.
Why is intersectionality so important?
As I said in the introduction, we live in a society where women are still not completely equal to men. On top of that, women of color, for instance, are often unreasonably disadvantaged even compared to their privileged female counterparts.
Also, studies on women workforce do not consider ethnicity regularly. The results are, then, incorrect because they are too generalized.
To move forward with feminist activism, we should take up the more subjective, intersectional approach. Only in that way we find the desired solutions.
What are some steps that I could do to promote intersectional feminism?
There are several ways on how to embrace intersectional feminism. Most of them are small steps, although they can have a considerable effect on how our society develops. Here are some of them:
- Self-reflection — We first have to look at ourselves and detect if there are any blind spots in our view of feminism. Note that not only there is white privilege, but also a male privilege, wealth and class privilege, heterosexual privilege, cis-gender privilege, able-bodied and thin privilege, etc. By recognizing those, we can better learn about issues and identities that do not affect us personally. This will allow us to free ourselves from theoretical feminism and grasp a truly inclusive feminist approach.
- Listen and support the oppressed groups — Self-educate yourself about the forms of discrimination that you have not experienced. There are plenty of books on racism, articles about the experiences and struggles of the LGBTQI+ community, and various podcasts on related topics available online. You can also purchase creative work of the oppressed groups, such as books, movies, etc. This way, you will kill two birds with one stone — you will support the authors and entertain yourself. Moreover, you will better see their point of view, as it comes straight from the source.
- Speak up — There has been quite a serious discussion about the performative allyship. Black squares on Instagram, hashtags, you know. But I think that even the tiniest steps help. People on the other side of the world can easily catch up on what is really going on in today’s society. Use your unique voice and your privilege to support those in need. Yet, I recommend you be careful. It’s always better to investigate the topic before speaking up.
To build up a more conscious, stronger, resilient, and impartial society is not a cakewalk. What do you think? Can embracing the intersectional approach help us achieve equality?