Sorry for the hiatus, but Feminist-in-Training is back y’all! Today we’re talking about intersectional feminism.
Of course, you might be wondering why we should talk about something that’s been talked about so much before, something that should now be a rudimentary concept for anyone who’s brave enough to call themselves a feminist. But we all know that there are still Taylor Swifts, Lena Dunhams and Amy Schumers in the world, so while their kind of feminism is still rampant and widely practiced, we will always need to discuss intersectionality.
It’s particularly important to talk about it today, on 9/11. If you don’t know, on September 11th, 2001, a series of terrorist attacks caused the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City and the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. This was an extremely unfortunate event and today, 15 years later, the entire country still mourns.
However, some Americans get so swept up in their “patriotism” that they dehumanize and blame an entire group of people for something they didn’t do. This day is particularly hard for a lot of Muslims, because islamophobia takes over and people demonize them for the events that took place on 9/11. I’m not going to go into depth about this or why islamophobia is wrong or why sweeping generalizations are harmful and violent or why Bush probably did 9/11 anyway. I just want to say two things:
- My condolences go out to all the families of those who died/were injured due to this tragedy, and I hope America never has to experience something like that again.
- Blaming Muslims for this is ignorant, wrong, and not feminist at all.
Okay, so now we’re talking about intersectionality.
It’s a term that was coined by American civil rights advocate critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (bae). It’s a concept that focuses on how various degrees of identity like gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, caste, age, nationality interact and intersect. It discusses how “cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society" (textbook definition). This is different from white feminism, which interprets the experience of a woman as a monolithic concept. Intersectional feminism analyzes the discrimination that people face when they identify with “the multiple social, biological, and cultural groups that are not favored in a patriarchal, capitalist, white supremacist society.”
Feminism is not “feminist” if it’s not intersectional. There can be no other way. A movement that strives to recognize and change social, political, and economic inequalities based on gender cannot succeed if it does not regard how these inequalities vary based on other categories of identity. The reason why this is true is that these other categories of identity are not “other” at all; they completely intersect with each other. A black woman does not experience being a woman without the experience of being black, and a poor woman doesn’t experience being a woman without the experience of being poor. Someone who is non-binary and femme may appear as a woman and is thus subject to the injustices that women face, but is simultaneously subject to the injustices and marginalization that non-binary people face. And, especially, a Muslim woman does not experience being a woman without the experience of being Muslim.
So, to all the white feminists out there today who are so consumed in and overwhelmed with their “patriotism” to America and are babbling on about our veterans and being in “the greatest country in the world” that they feel the need to blame an entire religion for one tragedy, you are not a feminist. You are discriminating against people who your so-called “activism” is supposed to defend and protect. If you think that calling yourself a feminist means that you want to see a day when women aren’t oppressed by a patriarchal society, you need to realize that day will never come unless people are also oppressed for being non-white, poor, non-Christian, LGBTQ+, disabled, or non-American. Liberation is artificial when incomplete, and white feminism is only a temporary band-aid over a growing, imperative problem.
To all Muslims reading this: you are loved, you are worthy, you are protected, and my intersectional feminism will always defend you.