Monday, March 27, 2017

Two Minutes on Intersectional Feminism

Hey, it turns out I'm white.  I'm pretty sure nobody's surprised by that revelation.

It took me a long time to recognize that being white is not the same thing as being race-less, and that my happy color-blindness was really a manifestation of my racial privilege.

Funny enough, it also took me a long time to recognize that a lot of the things I had internalized about myself as a female were really manifestations of the rape/purity culture in which I lived.

I like to think I'm a pretty smart person, so realizing that I had lived for decades without recognizing the profound affects of racism and sexism on my life was a pretty big shock.  Once my eyes were opened, though, it didn't take much for me to jump on the feminist and anti-racist bandwagons.

For a bit of background here, the way that I read the Bible, it's pretty clear to me that all human beings are created in the image of God.  As a result, all human beings have the exact same inherent value and are deserving of respect.  Feminism and anti-racism have at their cores the same goal: for all human beings to be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of their individual differences.

Because I was becoming aware of sexism and racism at the same time, however, I found myself in a bit of a confusing situation.  Because I am a woman, I have experienced oppression on the basis of my gender, but being white, I've also experienced a great deal of privilege on the basis of my race.  I didn't know how to own my racial privilege while talking about sexism and fighting against it.

Enter intersectional feminism, a term coined by a black woman to describe the way that being black and female is materially different from being white and female.  To whit: a black woman faces oppression for being black, for being a woman, and at the intersection of blackness and womanhood.  The concept extrapolates out onto a variety of identities.  The end result is a multi-axis understanding of identity, and the intention of fighting for human dignity and respect on all of those axes.

There's a lot to unpack.  If you're ready to dive in, here's a reading and listening list curated by the King's College London Intersectional Feminist Society.

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