From ‘white feminism’ to intersectionalityIdentifying the ignored
Since this photo’s release it has been a symbolic image of white feminism. When fighting for equality it is crucial to fight unitedly for all. Photo Credit: Kevin Banatte
The day I watched tears stream down my mother’s face as scenes of police brutality flashed on our television, I decided I’d make a change in this world. While frustrated by not knowing how to make a difference, I came across the feminist movement online.
Despite the feminist movement’s growth through literature and street protest, the purpose is often times misunderstood. True feminism is intersectional, which means that everyones inequalities need to be addressed to create worldwide equality. Despite this, the concept is commonly confused with white feminism, or the idea of focusing solely on the disadvantages faced by white women instead of all races.
Failure to support movements involving specific races and instead focusing only on movements that involve white women like the wage gap or the Free The Nipple campaign, differentiates intersectional and white feminism. Issues white women face are valid; however, they are not the only noteworthy obstacles that all women face.
Cherry-picking specific issues based on one’s own struggles then disappearing during other movements that are controversial does not define an activist. As University of Florida student Valentina Duarte writes, “If your feminism is not intersectional, it is useless.” When feminists do not support all causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement, fighting against things like police brutality becomes a further grueling battle for minorities.
Additionally, some women who claim to be a feminist attach themselves to the title before understanding the movement. For example, Taylor Swift consistently defines herself as a feminist without showing active support for all of the movement issues. Not to discredit Swift’s consistent empowerment for women, but she has yet to make notable use with her platform to promote racial injustices.
Women who focus solely on the disadvantages white women face most likely will not be seen fighting for the DACA program or protesting racially unjust incarceration rates. As issues get more controversial the movement miraculously becomes quiet, leaving minorities alone against those desperate to demean us. By not fighting against racial biases along with gender biases, it degrades the entire movement.
When fighting against inequalities, it is crucial to fight as one collective. Deciding to focus purely on one section of inequality is just as effective as ignoring the movement. When we prioritize conversations like the reproductive rights since it involves white women too, we forget about the injustices that specifically affect women and men of color.
Even if this movement does not directly affect you, equality is a basic human right that everyone should be entitled to. I did not acquire the choice to be the race or the sexual orientation I am, so I should not get punished for this. With an intersectional feminist movement, the world can be made a better place for all people, and I will no longer have to watch my mother weep in front of TV’s.