Being that it's Women's History Month, and part of our mission here at TGM is to connect Women of Color to each other, we went ahead and asked our readers (YOU) to email us what INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM means to them... Although this is an ongoing conversation that we'll continue to explore, lets hear what our fellow sisters had to say!
When you hear the term "Intersectional Feminist", someone who isn't familiar with the term, automatically gets turned off. It sounds big and complicated; like a term that is academically inaccessible to the masses. It might sound the way "Quantum Physics" sounds to a lot of people. In the: "yeah, I've heard of it, but please don't ask me what it actually is" way.
And I get it, I was like that once too. However, having the chance to learn about what Intersectional Feminism is, has changed my entire viewpoint on the world around me. It has allowed me to think past my own identity and instead— think about how people with different identities live in the same world that I do.
Intersectional Feminism is acknowledging and accepting that not everyone will experience the same oppressions in the same way you might. I am a Queer-Latina-Cisgendered woman. My experiences will be vastly different than one of a straight Black woman, or a disabled White trans-man. So many different and encompassing identities that make each individual on the Earth unique and special. Intersectional feminism is living within those crossing identities and indulging yourself in the personal politics of that. I am not just a woman, nor am I just my sexuality. Being an Intersectional Feminist is being vocal about fighting for all of these different and intertwining identities, not just the ones that you personally identify with.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, the woman who first introduced the concept of "Intersectionality" says it best when she says “We might have to broaden our scope of how we think about where women are vulnerable, because different things make different women vulnerable.”
Different things make different women vulnerable and as an Intersectional Feminist I will spend the rest of my days fighting for all people and the various vulnerabilities they may encounter in society.
Intersectional Feminism feels like women identifying and respecting the ways in which we are not only alike but different. I think sometimes we have the tendency to focus so much on those we directly feel connected to that we lose sight of the plights of ALL women. Feminism has so many “layers”, there is not just one kind of feminist... whether you're interested in global feminism, eco feminism, the liberal or radical version — there's a version for you to partake in. Some of us are unaware of all of the “isms” and we focus only on the group we belong to and we leave so many women out of our fight. Intersectional feminism looks like, I am not my sisters keeper, I am my sister and I am not free until all of my sisters are free.
Intersectional feminism is caring about brown, Black, disabled, immigrants, sex workers, the mentally ill, poor, trans, muslim, queer, non binary, uneducated, marginalized lives as much as White, straight, cisgender, middle class lives. Intersectional feminism is understanding the social and power structures in place that stand in the way of marginalized folks. Intersectional feminism is acknowledging your oppression but also your privilege. It is about listening. It is about action. It is about using your privilege to uplift others and finding the strength in your opression.
Cami Cruz Thomas
Intersectional Feminism does not attempt to compartmentalize the complex identities of women. It's only intersectional if the conversation works towards finding solutions that dismantle the power structures that impact all women. Sometimes it seems like people try to create a category of "women" that's void of race, sexuality, or any of the defining characteristics of women everywhere.
For example, I'm a Black, queer woman. When I walk into a room, I am all of those things at once. My life experience has been as a Black, queer woman. Never as just a Black person, never as solely a queer person, and never as a just a woman. So if feminism aims to make me ignore key parts of my life experience, and instead only focus on womanhood, then it's ineffective. Intersectional Feminism is feminism that paints a more realistic picture of women, and the intricate characteristics that make us authentic.
As a Black woman who pens romance, Intersectional Feminism from a creative standpoint is twofold for me. First, it means using my talent to craft the stories of marginalized women who are sexual, flawed, and intelligent. These are images writers like myself push into the foreground of the indie romance world because the traditional pub houses, by and large, won't. Lastly, it means reciprocity. I use my small platform to elevate other women writers who are creating diverse romance and erotica. We support each other without having to justify our visions. It brings us joy to craft these women characters and set them free to enjoy their sexuality full throttle.
Intersectional feminists recognize that multiple aspects of a person's identity affect how that person is perceived and treated by society. They recognize the importance of elevating the voices and the work of others whose identities are more pertinent to the issue at hand.
For example, my friend Bailey runs her own entertainment blog at baileyedge.com. Bailey wrote a great article about how much she enjoyed Black Panther but noted that as a White woman, she could not comment on the film's racial representation with the nuance it deserved. Instead, she sent me, a Black woman, links to editors looking for pitches about Black Panther. Bailey and I support each other's work because we know that we're stronger together.
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