How (and Why) to Practice Intersectional Feminism

“White feminism” is a term that’s been floating around a lot lately. Perhaps you saw it come up in regard to Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. Maybe you’ve seen thinkpieces about it throughout social justice blogs. Or maybe it’s been brought up during discussions with fellow feminists.

However the term got your attention, it’s important that it did.

Unfortunately, many outspoken feminist messages relate and appeal only to privileged, often white, women. This is why intersectionality is so important in all social justice issues. Mainstream feminism and feminists need to recognize that the experiences of the LGBTQ and people of color communities are not an exact mirror of the kind of sexism a white woman faces.

How can we all be more intersectional with our own practice of feminism?

Be aware that feminism is different for everybody

Very simply put, feminism is the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. But under the surface, you’ll see that even within feminism, there are still great rifts in equality. A white woman’s experiences with sexism greatly differs from a black woman’s. A wealthy woman’s experiences differ from a woman in poverty, and so on.

In her book, Ain’t I a Woman?, bell hooks writes, “While it is in no way racist for any author to write a book exclusively about white women, it is fundamentally racist for books to be published that focus solely on the American white woman’s experience in which that experience is assumed to be the American woman’s experience.”

Understand who has privilege and who does not

Privilege is something everyone has in one way or another. Some people have more than others and the kind of privilege differs. One way to become more intersectional is to understand your privilege and how much you have.

Everyday Feminism does a great job breaking down privilege in relation to feminism in this excerpt:

“Privileged groups have power over oppressed groups.

Privileged people are more likely to be in positions of power – for example, they’re more likely to dominate politics, be economically well-off, have influence over the media, and hold executive positions in companies.

Privileged people can use their positions to benefit people like themselves – in other words, other privileged people.

In a patriarchal society, women do not have institutional power (at least, not based on their gender). In a white supremacist society, people of color don’t have race-based institutional power. And so on.”

Learn facts and statistics that affect different women

These facts and statistics will also help you to put your own privilege in perspective. We talk about the wage gap being 78 cents to every dollar a man makes. That statistic, however, really only applies to white and Asian American women. Latina or Hispanic women make just 54 cents in comparison, while black women make 64 cents.

Understand some women experience more gender-based danger and risks than others

It’s widely known that one-in-five women will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. For transgender women, the numbers are not just higher, but trans women are more likely to experience discrimination, harassment and sexual violence from police officers. In anti-LGBTQ ho7micide cases, 72 percent of the victims were trans women and 89 percent of the victims were people of color.

Understand not everyone is perfect

Understanding feminism from a intersectional perspective takes time, a conscious effort and continual education and growth. What people will notice about you, however, is that you are making an active effort to learn more about intersectional feminism and apply it to your everyday life.

Surround yourself with people who are different than you

A great way to do this is to participate in social justice groups in your community. You will be able to surround yourself with different ideas and experiences and learn from those around you. It is also important to diversify the kind of media you consume. There are many books, documentaries, articles and blogs that will help contribute to your growth. You just have to go and look for them.

Photo Credit: CharlotteCooper

68 comments

John J
John J3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y6 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y6 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago

Noted

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