The Kind of Feminism the World Needs Now

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Intersectional feminism is a term that has been used for decades to explain how the feminist movement needs to be more inclusive, especially when it comes to race and other forms of diversity. Where feminism is advocating for women’s rights and gender equality, intersectional feminism includes the understanding of how a woman or female-identifying person has many identities — such as race, ethnicity, religion, class, and sexual orientation — that impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

Modern feminism has been criticized for being “white feminism” and leaving the importance of intersectionality behind. This is because the average white woman can be held back by/discriminated against because of her gender; however, she still has the privileges afforded to her by her race. A BIPOC woman faces disadvantages and oppression due to both her gender and race. A BIPOC woman who is also LGBTQIA+ faces disadvantages and oppression due to her gender, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

The term “intersectional feminism” was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American law professor. In an interview with Time, she explains it as “a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other.” 

Why Does Feminism Need to Be Intersectional?

In order to fully fight against oppression, it must be addressed in all forms. We must explore how overlapping identities impact the discrimination others face. In addition, feminism should be beneficial to all people, of all gender expressions, sexual orientations, and races. It is the fight for equality among all people, after all.

An intersectional lens allows us to recognize the historical contexts around the issue and better show us that some people are faced with disadvantages as soon as they come into this world. 

These inequalities overlap the majority of the time. Majandra Rodriguez Acha, a youth leader and climate justice advocate from Lima, Peru, makes this salient point, “Those who are most impacted by gender-based violence, and by gender inequalities, are also the most impoverished and marginalized — Black and brown women, indigenous women, women in rural areas, young girls, girls living with disabilities, trans youth and gender nonconforming youth.” 

How Can We Make Feminism Intersectional?

Make sure you are listening to and seeking out information about the experiences of women in communities other than your own. Familiarize yourself with the needs of women in these other communities. However, never put it on these marginalized women to educate you; that is a different kind of burden that they should not have to shoulder.

During discussions, meetings, or event organizing, make sure that women from multiple communities are included. That way, you are ensuring that you are not servicing the needs of only one community, one kind of view, one kind of feminism. By practicing intersectionality and working together to fight oppression against all women, we can make sure feminism is what the world truly needs.

Tags: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Empowerment, Gender Equality

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Written By

Allie Nelson

Allie is a TV producer and writer with credits on Netflix, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, TBS, E!, & HGTV. See Full Bio

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