Why does Feminism need Intersectionality?
A word of warning for all my beautiful strong women out there, DO NOT read the Urban Dictionary definition of Intersectional feminism, it is not only useless but it is disrespectful.
First of all, before we get into the nitty gritty, the term intersectional feminism is incorrect. We should be saying feminism with intersectionality. Feminism is a political/ social movement that can exist with or without intersectionality. However, I want to show how important intersectionality is, in order to avoid feminism being considered as a race for supremacy.
What the hell is it?
According to Ava Vidal, ‘the main thing intersectionality is trying to do, is to point out that feminism which, is overly white, middle class, cis-gendered, and able bodied, represents just one type of view. It does not reflect on the multi layered facets of life, that women of all backgrounds face.’ I maintain that feminism without intersectionality becomes a fight for supremacy, labelling one view held by a large proportion, and applying it to all women is not feasible.
Without intersectionality, the feminist movement is open to fragmentation, making it weaker and less effective. I say this, because if we focus on the majority view, then we ignore lots of issues that also need attention.
The Pros and Cons of Intersectionality:
I recognise that mainstream feminism today has become overly white, focussing on the privileged experience, rather than other perspectives. Intersectionality encourages privileged groups to listen to groups that are perceived differently in the world, as they have a deeper perception of oppression due to not only gender, but also other elements like race, disability, and class. An important lesson to learn from intersectionality is to learn more about your privileges, but also to listen to the variety of views, that surround us today.
However if we take intersectionality to the extreme, it can also create fragmentation. We begin to separate out the different privileges and form separate groups of feminist thought. Some groups may not agree with others, and then we have to tackle internal debate, as well as external debate. Instead of a strong united front, we become a fragmented system, caught within a civil war of perceptions. I am not saying intersectionality is the downfall of feminism, but to the extreme, it can cause fragmentation.
What have we learnt?
Intersectionality is a confusing topic, and is definitely something I need to research more. What I have gathered from my research so far is that feminism requires some intersectionality, but we must be aware that intersectionality can cause internal fragmentation. I believe feminism will be a stronger movement when it encompasses all worldviews, and provides a united front against misogynistic views.