I have written here before about why I, as a disabled, Trans/ Agender person designated male at birth, am a Feminist and what I perceive it to be. It can be an eye opener to discover that their are disputes, disagreements and outright hostility between different groups and individuals who use the word Feminists to describe them. Their are various “waves” of Feminism that emerged at a specific time and are aligned with viewpoints of particular spokespersons/writers/activists. The most problematic to Trans people and in particular, Trans women are the “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists,” as they’re labeled by some, (the people that adhere to this belief system just call themselves Radical Feminists).
I have grown to prefer what is called Intersectional Feminism (also called Fourth Wave Feminism). Intersectionality is a term that was introduced by American professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. The concept already existed but she gave it a name. The textbook definition states:
The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”
To read more about the terminology and what it means check out this article in The Telegraph newspaper out of the UK.
I particularly like this post by Jarune Uwujaren and Jamie Utt in Everyday Feminism that strongly advocates for Intersectional Feminism. Here are the opening paragraphs of the opinion piece. Continue reading by following the link at the bottom of this post..
When Annie Lennox, legendary Scottish singer from the Eurythmics, recently declared that Beyoncé is not feminist with the statement “Listen, twerking is not feminism,” she firmly established herself as a representative for White feminism.
“White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of color. It is ‘one size-fits all’ feminism, where middle class White women are the mold that others must fit. It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual White feminist, everywhere, always.”
Now, Lennox likely doesn’t think of herself as a White feminist, but by referring to Beyoncé’s feminism and expression as “disturbing,” “exploitative,” and “troubling,” she expressed the politic many White feminists are known for advancing: “Feminism must look like we want it to look, or it’s not feminism.”
It’s usually not that overt, and most White feminists would deny that this is what’s being said or done, but you notice it in more subtle comments like “Why do you have to divide us by bringing up race?” or “Are Trans women really women? There should be a distinction.”
In the face of calls for a more intersectional feminism, there are even White feminists who claim the whole concept of intersectionality is just academic jargon that doesn’t connect with the real world.
Yet the irony seems lost on some feminists who make these claims while staunchly opposing the language of “humanism” in place of “feminism.”
Simply put, it’s not those who are calling for a feminism that is responsive to the specific issues they face that are being divisive. It’s those of us who refuse to acknowledge the need for an intersectional ethic in feminism.
What Is Intersectionality? Continue reading this opinion piece by clicking here to head over to Everyday Feminism