INTERSECTIONAL FEMINITY - What is it?
“Nothing is too ugly for this world, I think. It’s just that people pretend not to see.”-Terese Marie Mailhot
Hello, beautiful ladies! Today’s blog post goes out to every single woman– privileged or not; successful or not; outspoken or not. Intending to create a platform to empower and celebrate our strength and fortitude, as a gender, we need to come forward in unison, creating a strong sisterhood. Balanced with a softer hue and a tough exterior at the same time, we have the power to win and achieve anything that we set our minds to.
We hope that the quote mentioned above traversed through your hearts, and gave you goosebumps. Just by default of being a woman, consciously or subconsciously, we have fallen victim to the same, irrespective of which part of the world we reside in. On the other hand, we may have throttled (figuratively, we presume) someone to suffer from these reigns. With a huge UN uproar towards feminism, this phenomenon has penetrated far and wide. An evolution of its predecessor, a term that resonates with our species in varying effects is what is known as INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM.
What is INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM?
For years, sexism has been embedded in the global culture. Coming to think of it, does this strongly entrenched attitude interweave the different countries, unanimously? Well, that revelation definitely sent us into a burning frenzy. Discrimination is not simply restricted to one’s sex, there’s much more which entails it. Most know feminism as the fight to achieve gender equality.
The term ‘intersectionality’ or ‘intersectional theory’ was coined by civil rights activist and professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw in the year 1989. It can be defined as the “interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage”. In other words, ‘Intersectional Feminism’ refers to the multiple oppressions and discriminations that women have to undergo daily, which are practiced on the basis of race, economic standing, religions, identities, and orientations. Since white women are the most privileged of the lot, an obvious term that cropped up was “White feminism”, wherein the struggles that women of colour, different sexual orientations, and other minorities face is overshadowed by White women.
Isn’t that so sad? Although it is the followed norm, the irony is that women, too sometimes advocate it on some level. You may find it unbelievable, but it happens in our country as well, for generations hence.
Before we dig a little deeper, let’s take a quick recap, down feminist memory lane.
Let’s talk about Feminism, First
Going back to the early roots, feminism, as we know, is characterized by the Feminist Movements to address an array of issues pertaining to women’s reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence forming the core components across most countries. Touted as being helmed in four waves, each phase brought with it a strong propaganda towards social change.
- First Wave: It centered on the middle and upper-class white women, addressing suffrage and political equality.
- Second Wave: The aim was to combat social and cultural inequalities, mainly highlighting issues of race and the disparity with developing nations.
- Third Wave: In addition to vocalizing the earlier issues, a new lease of life was poured into financial and media activism.
- Fourth Wave: It inspected the interweaving systems of power contributing towards the stratification of traditionally marginalized groups.
The Civil Rights Movement and World War II played a great role in directing these maneuvers. Elizabeth Cady Stanton is credited for popularizing this revolution in 1902.
Since we love all things fashion, we want you to ponder on the following analogy: Do you think French couturier and fashion icon, Coco Chanel strove to garner inspiration from the Feminist Movement; rather wasn’t she a Feminist herself? Creating a vogue of the androgynous, boss woman pant suits back in the 20s, she stood for liberating women from the clasps of men, and empowering them, while leading them to the modern, avant-garde era.
Back home, courageous women like Rani LaxmiBai of Jhansi or Sarojini Naidu fought for women’s equality and respect tirelessly.
INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM: EXAMPLES
Trans actress Lauren Cox, feisty writer Chrytos, renowned rapper Lizzoand, educationist Bell Hookshave voiced their displeasure against women-inflicted bigotry. Helmed as bold and fearless, we need more people like them. The 21st century is not about being subdued, ladies. Believe that you are made for the stars, and hustle your way to success.
Most of you readers may have tuned in to watch the explosive tell-all interview that the magnanimous television personality, Oprah Winfrey conducted with ‘Prince Harry’ and ‘Meghan Markle’ over the past weekend. Didn’t your hearts just go out to the ex-Duchess’ plight? Having admitted to going through depression and experiencing suicidal thoughts, she just did not want to live anymore. Wasn’t this a classic case of intersectional feminism? She complained of racial discrimination at the hands of the ‘firm’, but there were other discriminatory undertones.
Additionally, over the years, she was incessantly harassed by the media for being American, a divorcee, and an actress, thereby deeming her unfit to be a Royal. As young girls, we have all dreamed of being princesses, but would you want to rethink your stance after hearing her story. From conversations pertaining to her unborn child’s skin tone, to being denied a few privileges or ‘rights’, wasn’t there unfair treatment meted out to the couple. Juxtaposing her existential purpose, a ferocious, out-spoken activist like Meghan felt compelled to be “silenced”. Life sometimes can be horridly funny, right. If she did not have Black roots, would she have been subjected to such denigration? Black women suffer the most. But, what’s worse is that the oldest monarchy would live by it.
Talking about India, a nation famous for a diversity of cultures seamlessly blending in, bringing with it a unique and spectacular amalgamation of traditions and conventions, while adapting to the modernity of these times, haven’t we also practiced the same? As an afterthought, does gender stereotyping play a role too? If you’ve watched the movie based on the inspiring life of war pilot, Gunjan Saxena (portrayed by the uber-talented Janhvi Kapoor), she was discouraged to join the Air Force by society because she was a girl. Being shunned by her brother, classmates, and trainers alike for not being physically fit, she did manage to have the last laugh. To date, parents discriminate amongst their children by advising young girls to opt for careers, which is not too demanding, or acceptable as a hobby because ‘ she has to eventually get married and manage family life’. All hail the campaign of ‘sharing the load’ and dividing responsibilities! Pretend playing with dolls and kitchen sets also trains us for an unwarranted future.
Speaking of equal pay, women are discriminated against while considering candidates for top-notch positions in corporates. White women earn lesser than males, while women of other ethnicities, especially Blacks earn significantly lower than their White counterparts. Talent and merit are not seen as barometers to judge a person’s performance. In a sweet turn of events, the internet was abuzz when the ethereal beauty and powerhouse performer, Deepika Padukone was paid more than her male co-star (and now husband) Ranveer Singh because she had a meatier role.
Apart from that, at work too, women face sexual harassment and other job stressors. Our caste system and customs prove this phenomenon time and again. Disparaging someone on the basis of their colour to accept their hand in marriage among the elite (contributing to the obsession with ‘Fair & Lovely’, if we may point out), to shunning women during their menstrual cycles; denying the right of the girl child to educate herself to not allowing women to enter certain religious institutions, these practices still take place in rural households and some conservative urban setups.
But the prejudice does not stop here. In a terrifying scenario, women members of the LGBTQIA+ community undergo trepidation to come out to others, due to the harrowing treatment that has been publicized in the past. Even though we as a society are progressing, there is still a long way to go. Even in urban, contemporary families, parents do not approve of a love match because they may abide by old customs. Honour killing and domestic violence all stem out of intersectional feminism.
To conclude, we hope this article helped in broadening your worldly horizons, whilst encouraging you to take a stand. To the graceful and courageous woman of today, all we’d like to say is sparkle, shine, and bedazzle. With your confidence and potential, you’re 100% worth it. Believe in yourself, persevere, fight for your rights, and you shall slay!