When I started in my first year at the university, I believed that we belonged in a world that didn’t need feminism anymore. I can’t eat my words enough as I’ve come to understand that many of the struggles women face today are not as obvious as I thought and the inequalities we face are so deeply ingrained that I did not even know it.
1. Who is feminism for?
Feminism today, or at least the feminism I believe in, stands for all oppressed people. Feminists believe that certain ideas about gender, women’s rights, sexual orientation and race (just to name a few) are extremely damaging to people. Gender, as explained before, is a divide of ‘men’ and ‘women’, which puts people into restrictive ideas about how we should act. These ideas about gender are damaging to women and to a lesser extent men, and are especially damaging towards the transgender community who do not identify with the sex that they are born as.
The LGBQIA+ also face great levels of discrimination for not being straight, or heterosexual. QIA+ represents people who are queer, intersex, asexual and so on. These are often people who do not identify as either man or woman, do not have a sexual orientation, or are born intersex.
So feminists stand for everyone, not just women.
2. What is intersectional feminism?
It is the acknowledgement that women of colour or are LGBTQIA+ who face sexism will have a different experience in their daily lives than White and straight women. (I’ve explained this briefly in this video post.)
What has happened as of late is a thing called White feminism. These are feminists that have forgotten that women of colour face racism on top of sexism. White feminists sees progress in certain areas that have advanced women, but these progress often do not progress women of colour. You can read more about White feminism on this article on Huffington Post. Therefore, when they claim to represent women as a whole, they leave out a great majority of women in their voice.
Racism isn’t just the only point that is forgotten by some feminists, too. The poor portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ in mainstream media is also an issue which has not seen as much progress compared to how women are portrayed. You can read a report on the representation of women and the LGBTQIA+ by GLAAD here.
So, intersectionality refers to people with complex identities and experiences more than one level of oppression in their lives. Intersectional feminism stands for all kinds of people and excludes none.
3. Solidarity is empathy.
We do not need to be in pain to know that someone is in pain. As feeling human beings, we should try to help someone who hurts, even if all we can do is to point it out.
Silence is ignorance. That is why as this author says about intersectional solidarity, she does not need to like White women who have not stood up for her. I feel that we have a duty to understand what matters to other people and to understand what kinds of struggles they have. This is especially true if we have some sort of a privileged position where we don’t face as many difficulties as others do.
That is why I believe that the message of intersectionality is to be feeling human beings that are aware of and acknowledge how other people might be suffering.
No matter who you are, please do read more about intersectionality! You might find it highly relevant to you. This article explains further what intersectional feminism is and why it is important.