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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Some Awesome Things We Saw at The Oscars

I don’t typically watch The Oscars. It’s not that I don’t care nor is it because I boycotted it.

#OscarssoWhite was trending and let me tell you, I think it is important. I’m sure many have seen this around the internet as The Oscars came closer.

It’s important. It really is and I saw some of those problems come to light last night. Notably, the foreign winners who were rushed off stage much faster than the American ones. Bravo to Pawel Pawlikowski for talking through the music that tried to rush him off stage. He kept going and we were loving it.

Neil Patrick Harris didn’t quite do the best as an Oscars host, but in my experience, nobody really does. It’s hard to grab a hold of that crowd. Some of his jokes were a little off color. I thought that he brought attention to the white problem in the Oscars. Maybe he was playing it down by joking, but it’s better to call that out even if the crowd wasn’t accepting it.

Who doesn’t like a good song number? And of course, Anna.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

The SPEECHES!

This right here is why I’m glad I didn’t boycott the Oscars. I want to hear what these stars have to say. The Academy has serious problems and it is amazing when their recipients are giving out speeches that empower all sorts of different people.

Attention was brought to ALS, Alzheimer’s, veterans, suicide, black rights, women’s rights, and how the country treats their immigrants.

I encourage readers to watch all the videos if  you didn’t catch them. They are well worth your time and were inspiring. I would also discourage you from reading the comments. The general rule is to not read Youtube comments, but I never can help myself. I read the one for Common and John Legend’s acceptance speech and felt sad. The fact that some people still think that saying “…be happy with how far this country  has come” will appease people is beyond me. Yes, we have a black president and yes, there are successful black people doesn’t mean we are equal. It means we’re getting closer to racial equality, but if people stop fighting, there will only be steps back.

I, of course, am going to talk about Patricia Arquette’s speech, winner of best actress in a supporting role. Here’s a video clip:

The support from the audience was fantastic, most notably Meryl Streep. What I found to be puzzling was some of the shocked faces. Happy, but shocked.

It’s crazy that saying women need equal rights can be so shocking to people. The faces were not angry, they were happy. They were only surprised that this woman would dare say it.

The argument Arquette made was perfect. “To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” That argument.

Right away, she slams down people who ask ‘what do women really do?’ She uses childbirth as a necessary job that women do for this country. She doesn’t argue that women work and volunteer and give back to their community (which they do), she throws out the fact that women have primary roles in childbirth and rearing. That is fantastic.

I have read the arguments against her speech and each of those would need a blog post in itself. Some I have already talked about, but most I still need to.

-The wage gap
-‘Care’ of women
-Housewifery
-Women in other countries

There are a lot more of course, but these were just some of the problems youtubers had. Unfortunately, most were complaining about ‘first world feminists’ and how they all need to die out. Once again, ignorance breeds hate. It’s unfortunate. I always wish I could argue with them, but I can’t. It’s one of those never-ending battles.

If you have any questions or would like me to comment on a specific problem the community has with feminism, please  let me know. I will not attack you, just answer with the knowledge I have.

I hope readers go and watch the other videos. They are well worth it and were beautiful. Read other blogs that focus on the discussions that those speeches started. Once again, well worth.

Off topic but go watch Lady GaGa’s performance. I was surprised and shocked at how wonderful it was.  Never knew she could actually sing.