I am white. I am a feminist. Until this past week, I thought I was reasonably well informed on my status as someone who believed in equality for all. “Woke,” as they say now, I think. Little did I know, I was a white feminist. Quelle horreur! Sounds like a fate worse than death, right? Well, in fact, it was a fate caused by exactly the points of view I thought I was fighting against. I just didn’t know it. What an unintentional conundrum.
White feminism is a limited view of feminism, basically rendering it an oxymoron of Titanic proportions, which could very well end up sunk in the same frigid outcome. In fighting for equality, we should be fighting for ALL people to have equal opportunities and receive the same treatment as others of another race/ethnic/gender/social description, right? We should be fighting against the swift, swirling current of privilege. The Oxford dictionary defines privilege as, “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.” Until now, it never really occurred to me that privilege could be very much unintentional.
Well, white feminism is a telescoped view of feminism, that those of us who are white can fall naturally into specifically because of our privilege. And yes, I mean white privilege. Quite simply, in spite of all my best intentions, that very fact that I am white does grant me privilege! And I hate to admit it. I hate to acknowledge it. But acknowledging our faults (AND our privileges) and striving to correct them is the most important thing we can do to keep moving forward in our feminism. Our efforts towards true equality.
Now for the announcement of my NEW attitude of feminism…(drum roll)…I am an intersectional feminist! And I couldn’t be more excited to see how this newly awakened knowledge guides me forward in my efforts to contribute to equal opportunities in the world!
Intersectional feminism is like fighting for equality through a view rather like a kaleidoscope-our view should consist of a mixture of all the colors and shapes. All these colors and shapes that make up our diverse human race need to be considered as we forge forward. More simply, the differences that make up our diversity, and should be celebrated, also create a multifaceted approach to the fight for equality. And to the discrimination that necessitates that fight.
The concept of intersectional feminism was created in the 80s by Kimberle Crenshaw, a black female law student and activist who identified that just being a women wasn’t all there was to the discrimination experienced by so many, and by her. Discrimination is a complicated and more robust problem. For example, let’s say I’m a white, middle class, heterosexual woman. (I am, actually.) All of these characteristics can very well grant me the privilege of NOT being discriminated against. Or maybe I am discriminated against just because I am a woman. Now consider a black, middle class, heterosexual woman. She could be discriminated against because of being a woman AND because she is a person of color. Now consider a Hispanic lesbian living in poverty. She could be discriminated against because she is person of color AND a part of the LGBTQ community AND because of her lower economic status. See where this is going? There are so many race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic class, caste, and other traits describing people that can lead to them receiving the brunt of discrimination.
Intersectional feminism takes into account this kaleidoscope of traits that can contribute to discrimination. I am not ashamed of the view I had before, of the unintended privilege that held a lens over my view of what I thought was equality. I was ignorant, but now I am informed. And I am moving forward with a better perspective that will contribute to a more pure and effective effort at equality.
I encourage you to take a few moments for introspection and consider your privilege. You’ll surely find it somewhere. And how can you move forward and reject that lens of privilege? Let’s try to really appreciate the beautiful kaleidoscope that makes up our human diversity!
And please, I ask now more than ever, SHARE this with your people!! Thanks.
Cheers and love!