The Intersectional Feminist

cropped-img_2057.pngFeminism Noun/Fem-i-nism

A lifestyle which perpetuates, advocates, promotes and practices equal: social, political, economic and human rights for both sexes.

New Age Feminist (Singular/Noun)

A person who is intrinsically in tune with both masculine and feminine energies inline with higher source.

Intersectionality gives us a wider scope than the first and second generation of feminism which mainly focused on the experiences of middle-class white women.

Now the lens has been broadened  and aims to separate itself from biased white feminism to include the different needs of  women from various backgrounds and identities. Hoping to serve and support women of colour,  women of poor backgrounds and also to maintain relationships and support the needs of heterosexual men of colour from working class backgrounds.

“Intersectionality can be defined as a framework on the theoretical understanding of how an individual persons political and social identity can be combined to create varying modes of privilege and discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, caste, sex, religion, sexuality, physical appearance and disability.” – G L Scott

Intersectionality seeks to identify both the advantages and disadvantages that people face due their identity and which aspects may empower of oppress them. For example a black women may suffer discrimination not specifically because of her race; because that same business my not discriminate against black men; nor specifically because of her gender because the same business does not discriminate against white women but due to a mixture of her identity being that of the black race and the female sex.

Claudia Jones (1915-1964) Photo Source: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk

Feminist Claudia exhibited the development of the term ‘intersectional’ in her best known piece of writing “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!” which appeared in a magazine called political affairs in 1949. This passage taken from her writing exhibits her development of what later became the term ‘intersectional’ within a Marxist framework coined by black feminist Kimberle Williams Crenshaw in 1989 based on her theory exploring the oppression of women of colour in society.

“The bourgeoisie is fearful of the militancy of the Negro woman, and for good reason. The capitalists know, far better than many progressives seem to know, that once Negro women begin to take action, the militancy of the whole Negro people, and thus of the anti-imperialist coalition, is greatly enhanced.

Historically, the Negro woman has been the guardian, the protector, of the Negro family… As mother, as Negro, and as worker, the Negro woman fights against the wiping out of the Negro family, against the Jim Crow ghetto existence which destroys the health, morale, and very life of millions of her sisters, brothers, and children.

Viewed in this light, it is not accidental that the American bourgeoisie has intensified its oppression, not only of the Negro people in general, but of Negro women in particular. Nothing so exposes the drive to fascization in the nation as the callous attitude which the bourgeoisie displays and cultivates toward Negro women.” – Claudia Jones, 1949

The 1989 study initially started as an investigation into the oppression of women of colour. Since 1989 the analysis has expanded into theory for the fourth wave of feminism to include various other aspects of identity including race, gender, sex, sexuality, class, ability, nationality, citizenship, religion and body type.

Photo Source: Wikipedia.com

In a recent interview with the Times Kimberle Crenshaw stated that intersectional feminism is “a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other”

Intersectional feminism aims to understand the extent of inequality centered around the overlapping and simultaneous types of oppression of the individual voices that experience it. The intersectional approach to feminism identifies that a one for all approach doesn’t take into account the overlapping of different peoples social identities which create heighted degrees of discrimination

 

“We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.”Kimberle Crenshaw

 

A prominent women’s rights activist named Valdecir Nascimento says “the dialogue to advance black women’s rights should put them in the center”. She has fought for equal rights for over 40 years noting that black women were part of the feminist movement the black and civil right movements and other movements of progression.

 

“We don’t want others to speak for black feminists—neither white feminists nor black men. It’s necessary for young black women to take on this fight. We are the solution in Brazil, not the problem,” – Valdecir Nascimento

Photo Source: http://www.unwomenusa.org

The use of an intersectional approach surrounding feminism takes into consideration historical backgrounds and instances of systematic oppression, discrimination and violence which has produced great inequities putting some members of society at great disadvantage in comparison to others. These inequalities overlap and therefore intersect one another surfacing as denial of human rights and equal opportunities based on caste systems, poverty, race and sexe.

 

Intersectional feminism highlights the intersections between all battles for liberation and justice. It illuminates that the fight for equality means that not only gender injustices must be dismantled but all types of oppression must be rooted out. It is a framework that serves to build through a robust and inclusive movement that aim to resolve intersecting types of discrimination all at the same time.

 

As global ongoing crises unfolds simultaneous across the world, we can use the intersectional feminist scope to better understand the links between the issues at hand and build a better society for all.

Intersectional feminism is important today because the impact of crisis is not the same for everyone. Various communities in different countries around the world face a variety of compounded threats. The issues may vary from location but many share the same pre-existing needs such as food, shelter, education, employment, protection and care.

A crisis exposes the structural inequalities that pattern our daily lives and can bring about great change positively or negatively. Mechanisms for renewing society that bring justice, safety and peace of mind to everyone must be established through long term change rather that making promises and then returning to business as usual for the privileged few whilst the rest of us suffer.

Looking at the current situation in regard to the coronavirus, we can see how the pandemic has worsened established inequities and generations of discrimination. Rather than dividing the fight we should unify taking into consideration the various experiences people are challenged with so we can better understand the issues at hand and find solutions that work in the long run and leaves no one behind.

“If you see inequality as a “them” problem or “unfortunate other” problem, that is a problem. We’ve got to be open to looking at all of the ways our systems reproduce these inequalities, and that includes the privileges as well as the harms.” – Kimberle Crenshaw

 

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