FREE THOUGHT: Intersectionality & Why It’s So Important

FREE THOUGHT: Intersectionality & Why It’s So Important

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I would like to think of myself as a feminist. I want to fight the good fight, for women, everywhere. I believe we all deserve the same equal rights as our brothers. About a week ago, my favorite feminist, Franchesca Ramsey, was speaking on Snapchat about an experience she encountered and mentioned the word intersectionality. I had no idea what the word meant but was very intrigued to look it up and learn more about it.

Intersectionality is used to describe the overlapping of social identities and oppression and how feminists should take into account the needs of women from all different backgrounds and races when considering issues that need to be advocated for. Intersectionality isn’t just about race. It has expanded to more – sexual orientation, religion, class and even disabilities are considered.

Feminism without intersectionality is like a one-size dress that not all women can fit into. It was created and designed for a specific woman in mind and everyone else can go kick rocks. The year the Civil Rights Act was passed, in 1964, was the first time General Motors hired a black woman to work for their company. In 1976, General Motors was sued for discrimination. Blacks did one job while whites did another. Women, thanks to that Civil Rights Act, were welcome to apply for jobs, but most jobs can only be occupied by a man. Now, here is where the problem kicks in. Black jobs were men’s jobs only, and women’s jobs where for whites only. So where do the black women fit in to the scenario? Simple. They didn’t. 

Of course, the court dismissed any claims of discrimination and the case was thrown away. The court believed that black women shouldn’t be allowed to combine race and gender into one claim. Ridiculous, I know.

Intersectionality is understanding that we, as women, belong to a different group of classifications and that sometimes we have a tendency to focus all of our energy to just one of those classifications. 

“My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!” –Flavia Dzodan

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Feminism is pointless without intersectionality and inclusion. Another great example of the lack of intersectionality and inclusion in feminism is the “Imagine if men were as disgusted with rape as they are with periods” campaign, started by a young woman in Germany. It was a smart and effective campaign! I’ll give her that. But the campaign only took into account cis-gendered women, women that are not transgender. But approximately 50% of transgendered women experience some form of sexual abuse in their life. While this campaign is great and shed light on a very important topic and issue that us women face all the time, it didn’t include or take into account all women and that is where we have a problem with lack of intersectionality.

Here are some ways to be an Intersectional Feminist:

1. USE YOUR VOICE TO ADVOCATE FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE ONE

Advocate for people who don’t have that platform to speak on about their issues. If you want to campaign about sexual assault with women and rape, make sure to include all women, all classifications that consider themselves to have been victim of the same kind of abuse.

 

2. REFLECT

Check your privilege and get rid of it. Getting rid of your privilege is one of the first steps to intersectionalizing your feminism and becoming more inclusive. Take it upon yourself to look at issues that you might not understand. Learn about these issues that might not affect you and talk to people who can shed knowledge on the topics.

 

3. SEEK VARIOUS OPINIONS

Look for opinions on topics from a diverse group of people. Don’t close your mind off to only one type or class. Search around, open your mind to the different types of women that can be going through what you are going through and watch yourself grow into a bigger, badder and wiser feminist.

 

feminism and intersectionalityI’m learning as I go. The word intersectionality has been around for years and I’m just hearing about it now. I know that I have a lot more to learn but I’m excited for the journey and the growth that will happen as a result. If you get anything out of my post, it is that we need to be aware of how we interact with others, what we say and how we approach situations. We carry our privileges on our sleeves and wear our self-entitlement like a shield. Once we become more self-aware, we can take that step to being closer towards an equal and all-inclusive society.

Comment below your thoughts, feelings and/or any suggestions you may have!

2 Comments

  1. February 1, 2016 / 9:37 AM

    This is a great post! Thanks so much for sharing. It really got me thinking.

  2. February 1, 2016 / 1:47 PM

    Franchesca’s snap chat broke my heart! It resonated with me so much… I’ve been in situations where despite the painstaking effort to sound kind, and sound unemotional… I was treated as the angry black woman. It’s so frustrating, and I am glad that it is sparking conversation!

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