Last, yet anything but least in our feminism mythbusting quest, I want to explore big fat myth #6, perhaps the most detrimental one to the Women’s Movement.
Myth #6: Feminism Isn’t Feminism Without Intersectionality
Early on, we explored the MEANING OF FEMINISM and how class, sexual and racial divides have led to distrust and vexation against this unfairly maligned word. A major culprit was, and remains, a disregard for INTERSECTIONALITY.
According to my beloved DICTIONARYCOM, intersectionality is “the theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual.”
For example, a wealthy white woman will not be subjected to the same scope of societal biases as a poor white woman, who will not be subjected to the same scope of biases as a poor woman of color, who will not be subjected to the same scope of biases as a poor woman of color who also identifies as LGBTQ—and so forth. At the same time, all of these women will likely be subjected to some of the same biases as will, say, minority and Queer men.
We must therefore remember that while the feminist movement specifically targets the rights of females, not all females are treated, or mistreated, in the exact same way and for the exact same reasons. And for that matter, many other communities—including people of color, religious minorities and LGBTQ people—share similar burdens of oppression.
As such, it’s crucial to view feminism from a broader lens of social justice for all as well as from a female-specific lens that likewise accommodates intersectional considerations.
As I mention in a PREVIOUS POST, one of the most polarizing conflicts in the Women’s Movement arose after the success of the SUFFRAGETTE MOVEMENT when a cluster of privileged white women penned an Equal Rights Amendment, failing to consider that the “equality” with men they demanded would undermine the efforts of many working class and minority women who had fought so hard for female-specific reproductive privileges that permitted them job security, a living wage and other allowances to accommodate their needs in regards to pregnancy and childcare. Making them “equal” to men who cannot bear children, nor confront the related demands of motherhood, would strip them of crucial support (for one example.)
With more communication and cooperation among an intersectional community of women, the original ERA might have been worded to better accommodate the needs of most if not all women*. And with everybody’s support behind it, our unified forces would likely have garnered more favorable results. Instead, feminists became more and more divided, each subgroup pushing distinct, and often conflicting, agendas that have held us all back. Consequently, we’ve arrived in 2018 no closer to passing the ERA.
We need to fix this. We’re demanding that men listen to and learn from the women speaking out in the #METOO and #TIMESUPNOW movements, but let us not forget, women also need to listen and learn from each other with a special regard to those who come from distinct circumstances than our own. Not one of us can speak for us all; we must first learn to speak with one other and proceed accordingly.
Next time, we’ll explore a few ways how our film viewing choices and behavior can be a valuable part of that process.
*the ERA’s since been revised and vastly improved, so by all means vote for it now if we ever get the chance.
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