From the crisis we have been facing after the pandemic hit, to the discrimination and racism all around the globe to the latest Taliban issues – each of this clearly shows how far we are from achieving equality. Some people are even against equality. They wouldn’t even entertain the idea of equality. When we try to weigh the various multitude of injustice everywhere, it makes us overwhelmed because of the impact it leaves as a whole. So how intersectional feminism affects us? Intersectional feminism means having a better perspective through which we can have a better understanding of each other along with the collective issues and strive towards a justice filled future.
1) What is intersectionality?
Intersectionality is a foundational concept in sociology. It is the term which was first coined by an American law professor 1989 who gave us the intersectional feminism definition as the study overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of discrimination and oppression, or domination. Various forms of inequality often operate together and intensify each other. Women face this discrimination not just because of their identity as women but their oppression is also influenced by race, caste, class, ethnicity, ability, and financial condition as the basic entities among them.
Also read: Why Are Women More Depressed Than Men?
2) What does the term ‘intersect’ suggest in regards to intersectionality?
Intersectionality is the understanding of social relations by inspecting intersecting forms of discrimination. This means recognizing that social systems are complicated and that many forms of domination like racism, sexism and discrimination may present and be dynamic at the same time in a person’s life. Generally, everyone demands of building equality tend to focus on one type of discrimination. For instance, sexism and then they work towards only that specific concern. But why the career of a young, white, an able-bodied woman might be better with gender equality protections act, but an older, black, disabled, lesbian may continue to be hampered by homophobia, racism, ableism, and ageism in the workplace?
Intersectionality is about understanding and addressing all possible barriers to an individual or group’s wellbeing. But it’s not as simple as just adding our perspectives and addressing each one individually. Racism, sexism, discrimination against sexuality and ableism exist on their own. But when combined, they transform the experience of oppression. Intersectionality recognizes that unique operations exist, but is also considerate of how the change will affect in combination.
3) Where did the intersectionality come from?
Intersectionality first came into focus during the black feminist movement. The legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw first originated the term intersectionality in this regard. Crenshaw felt that anti-racist and feminism movement were both overseeing the exclusive challenges faced by black women. She stated that legislation about race is framed to protect black men, and legislation about sexism is there to protect the white women. So simply combining the protection against racism and sexism together does not therefore protect black women. Intersectional theory is applied across an array of social separations and also to the understandings of domination. Such as those associated with the whiteness, masculinity and heterosexuality.
Intersectionality is not only about various identities and it’s not a simple response to solving problems around equality and diversity. It is however a central framework as it actually engages with issues around privilege and power, and work to fetch them into the open. Intersectionality means listening to others, examining our own partialities and asking questions about who may be left out or adversely affected by our work. As importantly it means taking calculable actions to invite, include and centre the voices and work of marginalized individuals.
Also read: Are Women Really More Emotional Than Men?
4) Why we need intersectionality?
For example, whenever you are at a table and you look around to see who’s there, you ask the question, who isn’t here? That’s where we need intersectionality.
We will not be free if we continue to tell incomplete stories about what’s happening in our communities and what’s happening to our people. Because in centering LGBTQ folks, women, children, undocumented, backward class or disabled people and the list just goes on, we actually allow ourselves to tell more complete stories. And in telling more complete stories will be able to develop more complete solutions.
If we’re able to be unapologetic about the fact that, yes, we’re black, or backward class, or lesbian, or queer, or women, then only we can reach the state of liberation.
5) Why we need intersectional feminism?
We need intersectional feminism because the concept of intersectionality means feminists cannot (or should not) be concerned only with issues related to gender. Instead, we should be inclusive. We must look at the broader aspects where women are affected. We need intersectional feminism, because it wouldn’t just want us to speak against the misogynist criticism, but also, we need to talk against the racist attacks that shower on a woman. If we are only focusing on gender, we might miss the problems a woman of color, a LGBTQ woman, a disabled woman, or a poor woman face. I we are speaking out on behalf of women and advocating for equality, we must do so for ALL woman inclusive. We must understand and face all the issues faced by ALL the woman irrespective of race, caste, age, sexuality, disability or financial condition.
If we want to transform our society and end the gender discrimination, we must be inclusive of ALL people who face violence, dominance and discrimination. That is why we need intersectionality, it the key to our mission of fighting for the rights of ALL people to live their lives free of violence.