Well, you can probably tell from the title of this post that I’m a feminist. Hell yes, I’m a feminist. I will say it loud and proud, especially after this last week. But if you asked me that question 5 years ago you would have got a very different answer.
Back then, feminism was a dirty word for me. I heard “feminism” and thought about overly sensitive women who would sit around in a book club type setting, wiping away tears while ranting about their hatred of men. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I’m someone who has always been proud of my body. I’ve always believed in the freedom of my own sexuality, the freedom of having an education, the freedom of voicing my opinion and the freedom of being whoever the hell I want to be regardless of my gender. I hated the idea of other women sitting around fighting for things I thought I already had. And I do have most of that freedom, for the most part.
What pissed me off about feminism is that I thought it only focused on women, in particular, white women. But feminism does not only focus on white women’s issues.
My English professor in my first year at UBC was also a social justice professor and completly changed my perspective. I started to become much more passionate about feminist issues once I started to have a better grasp of what it really was. I was assuming feminism was white feminism, and was unaware of intersectionality all together.
What is “white feminism”?
Intersectional feminism was a term coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw. In her article, Jarune Uwujaren says that intersectionality “is a framework that must be applied to all social justice work, a frame that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations”.
What the hell does that mean? Simply put, intersectionality looks at all parts of someones identity (gender, race, sex, sexuality, class, religion, age, disability, and so on) and uses those pieces of information to make sense of oppression. Intersectionality recognizes that people may have multi-layered systems of oppression that they have to deal with and that these do not act independently of each other.
In my opinion (and this is the friggin truth) it is impossible to have feminism without intersectionality. It is impossible to ignore the intersections of identity that lead to an individuals inequality, or conversely, one’s privilege. Feminists today seek to change the areas where these intersectionalities create power inequity.
So… if you believe that everybody should be treated equal regardless of their gender, race, class, sexuality, etc then you are a feminist! And that’s not a bad thing. If you are concerned about sounding like this fool….
…then tell people you’re not just a feminist, you’re an intersectional feminist.
As a feminist, I try and change the status quo. I try to create positive change. I try to transgress the boundaries put in place for me. And I challenge you to do the same, especially with all the current bullshit going on in the world.
“Awww, but why can’t we just say humanist, not feminist??” Because this.
– peace&loveexoxoxoxo aly g