Feminism and Intersectionality

Yesterday, I wrote about Patricia Arquette’s speech. Afterwards, I looked to see what others were saying about the subject on WordPress. (Instead of youtube comments which are just painful).

What concerns I saw most of was intersectionality.

 I thought I wrote about this at another time, but I can’t seem to find the post. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Either way, I’m revisiting the conversation under the subject of her speech.

Intersectionality comes up as incorrect, but it is a word.

It’s a word that adds a whole new factor to the feminist conversation.

Intersectionality is defined by Wikipedia as “the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”

It means that you do not fit into one of the latter categories because of one piece of your being.

You can be black and be the president.

You can be a woman and have a successful business.

You can be poor and rise up to the middle class by the time you’re twenty-five.

There are success stories and those are awesome, but they typically do not contain much intersectionality.

When I hear the “I’m not a feminist because my aunt owns her own business and got it by myself,” I usually ask ‘how?’

Not in the way of it’s a statistical improbability, but in the way of what type of family did she come from? What was her educational background? What race is she? What religion does she practice? Where is she geographically located? Was she born in the United States?

These are all contributing factors to having success or to not having success. This is why you hear white guys complaining that women aren’t oppressed because she makes a lot of money and he doesn’t. Typically, intersectionality isn’t being used. (Or there’s just an assumption of needing a hand-out.)

Intersectionality also adds to the problems of defining oneself as a feminist. Typically, a person who believes in intersectionality and feminism has a hard time in those waters.

I support equal rights whether that be gender, sexuality, race, or religion.

I name myself a feminist first because I’m defined as a woman.

I have a lot more bits of myself that are in a more ‘dominant’ role. I’m white. I’m in a heterosexual relationship. I’m a Christian. I came from a family that was lower middle class (maybe even lower), but I received a good education and have graduated from college.

I’m less oppressed than I am in a dominating class.

This is where people become angry about so-called ‘first world feminism.’ Women in the United States seem to be whining when most of them have a lot more than other countries.

I’m going to talk more about comparisons in a later post, but just because you have successes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support those who don’t.

I don’t think it’s fair that women are typically seen as more passive, a follower, in need of less money, and are shoved to caretaker jobs that are not paid well.

This doesn’t mean I do not support other causes and in many cases, I almost support them more, it’s just that I can speak for women. I can connect with other women more than I can in any other activist group because I am a woman.

Feminism gets tricky in here. This doesn’t mean all women have to be white and middle class. This is actually a problem. It’s hard to find a space if you’re a woman and don’t fit into these parameters and it sucks.

If you’re black and say you support feminism, what does that mean? Does that mean you think your rights as a person of the black community is less than your rights as a woman?

No!

What it means is that terminology is hard and our society is based on categorizing. We want somebody to define themselves as one thing. We hate intersectionality as a whole because it’s the interplay of many categories and some that cannot be seen immediately.

IT ENRAGES US.

So keep doing it.

I define myself as a feminist. But in my case, that includes equal rights entirely. I will go on a march with anybody, but I will make sure to speak up for my experiences and make sure those who do not get their voices heard are able to speak up for themselves.

Do I wish that Arquette had thrown out that intersectionality word?

Yes.

Do I understand that she was in a limited time frame and might not have had the time to do it?

Once again, yes.

There are strides that we still need to take and we should never start criticizing because there’s always more work to be done. I hope that other people see that she left out a critical part, but are also happy that she said something. Maybe it wasn’t everything, but steps in the right direction will make a change.

We can hope that another celebrity will jump on this and add more to the conversation.

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Feminism and Imgur

This is not about Imgur, but it’s what brought me to write this post.

Imgur cannot discuss anything. Feminism is one of things unfortunately because if Imgur claims to be friendly to both genders (and all races), they would be lying. Some of the top page posts have crossed the funny line into the area of sexism or racism. Yes those two can be funny in some cases, but a funny person shouldn’t have to resort to these categories just to make a joke. That humor should be used lightly. If that’s all you’re using well good job at taking things off the internet and being an asshole.

Anyway….

There are many types of feminists. There are those that believe in equality meaning men and women get similar or equal rights and are treated similarly, and then there are those that take feminism as in female domination or at least female preference to men. Of course there are many other feminists within these categories, but I’m writing in general terms here. The latter is the type that gets blown up for many reasons. Here is a hopefully concise list:

1) These people are the loudest. If your an extremist or super radical, you make a lot of noise. It’s pretty much in the job description. These are the people that are going to go over what’s seen as acceptable and blow it out of proportion. Why fight for equal rights when we can say we want domination over men? They might just be trying to reach a middle ground by hoping to at least get to equality, but that’s not a definite goal. They’ll go to a rally, post Facebook pictures of them holding a sign (you’ll see a lot of these in a few minutes), and post all over our favorite social media cites including Reddit.

2) They work as a negative figurehead. If the people in control don’t want something, they’re going to advertise it as negatively as possible. This means that my first point might not be a thing and just blown out of proportion to give all feminists a bad reputation. If feminists are calling for a domination over men and people in power (typically white males) want feminism to look bad to prevent equality, then why not bring these small percentage of people to the top? What it does is give fuel to an argument. You say “I’m a feminist” and then they equate you to one of those people. You’re seen as uneducated, emotional, and out of control. Feminists gain a bad reputation and turn people away from supporting a cause that isn’t violent and mostly for equal rights. It creates people who don’t want to stand up for fear that they’ll look “crazy.”

These two problems create feminism to be something that people don’t want anything to do with. There are arguments amongst feminism as to how to solve the problem, but we shouldn’t be denying people rights because of their race or gender. Here’s an example of feminists of questionable motives. They may fall into the radical, but they don’t seem to be showing any signs of “women should be above men.” Also please keep in mind that some of these signs could be fake. The wonders of photoshop has made the internet an unbelievable place.

https://i1.wp.com/i.imgur.com/Pdkyuzl.jpg

So I had found a long list of these images, but they have disappeared (meaning I didn’t favorite it). What they were implying is that stare rape is a thing. It kind of is, but if you can control your internal thoughts then you need an award. If a man was to check me out, it’s cool. You’re from afar. I check guys out all the time. You can feel creeped out; that’s also perfectly fine. What’s not cool is when you touch somebody because you feel like you can or you’re reacting to their attractiveness. That’s when it gets to sexual harassment. Stare all you want (not through my window, but in a public place) just don’t touch me without my permission. People might possibly think this is a thing and if it is, it’s equal on all sides.

I know this was one example, but if you want more go to Reddit or Imgur or anywhere. The internet is littered with this stuff. There’s also the response we have to examine.

My edit button isn’t working, so I can’t crop these peoples’ faces out of these. I apologize for that since I really only care about the sign. If you know her, well I tried, but it’s already on Imgur. She’s fighting a losing battle.

Response to all the points time!

1) You are, but in society some people don’t see you that way. They see you for your gender and your need for help. You can’t take responsibility because you need to be cared for! You’re fragile! I want to be able to take care of myself and I don’t want to have to fight to be able to do so.

2) No? You don’t feel empowered? Do you know what that means? Empowered (vb): to give power to [someone]. To be empowered is to have power to yourself. You don’t want to have your own responsibility and to take control of your own life? I’m pretty sure that just took away your first bullet point if so. Empowerment is not a bad thing. It’s actually an awesome thing. If you want to value yourself by your own standards than patriarchy is inhibiting that. You’re valued in a different way from men. Once again, you are the second sex. It sucks.

3) You’re not a target for violence? If you think feminism is a solitary issue then you are most likely doing it wrong. Yay you didn’t get raped or hurt. Good for you. Guess what? You’re a part of a smaller percentage. There are tons of women all over the world who are being targeted because of their gender. I could throw statistics at you, but the truth is, we don’t know. We don’t know everybody in the world. There are many children who are never accounted for. Please be more aware of the world around you.

4) Good. I’m not demonizing men either. They’re not demons. Some of them have just been brought up in an environment that doesn’t treat women as equal. This includes people who see women as being something tender and in need of care. Nobody’s asking you to demonize somebody because of their gender.

The worse part of this post was that it’s caption was “You’re doing it right” which means at least one other person agreed with this. It was also on front page when it should have been downvoted into oblivion.

I know I could just ignore these two posts as they’re just people holding up signs, but it has a following. Instead of being extreme or reacting to that in the complete opposite way in fear of looking “crazy,” why not work towards equality? If you don’t want to label yourself as a feminist, good for you. Call yourself an equal rights advocate or whatever you would like. It’s only a label. We should be working together as a group anyway. All of these labels only separate us from one another and how are we going to get anything done at that point?