Intersectionality is the new buzzword and it rocks.

Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

While feminism can intersect with any of the above, an impassioned essay entitled “The Charleston Imperative: Why Feminism & Antiracism Must Be Linked” focuses the above definition to the modern intersection of race and feminism.  It reads:

We must recognize, at last, that racial violence, including the cycle of suffering and slow death that hovers over Black communities, is structural as well as individual. Equally significant, racial violence has never been focused on males alone….

Feminists must denounce the use of white insecurity — whether in relation to white womanhood, white neighborhoods, white politics, or white wealth — to justify the brutal assaults against Black people of all genders. Antiracists must acknowledge that patriarchy has long been a weapon of racism and cannot sit comfortably in any politic of racial transformation. We must all stand against both the continual, systematic and structural racial inequities that normalize daily violence as well as against extreme acts of racial terror. Policy, and movement responses that fail to reflect an intersectional approach are doomed to fail.

If you’d like a less academic definition and a great description of what I mean by “white feminist” (which is not synonymous with a feminist who is white), watch Huffington Post/Now This News’s video clip.

Meanwhile, Danielle Fuentes Morgan details an example of her interactions with the racist patriarchy in her piece entitled “WE ALREADY KNOW: WHITE LIBERAL RACISM DENIES BLACK PERSONHOOD.”  She aptly describes the type of discrimination and bias that she encounters on a daily basis, even in a quiet location like a waiting room.

This man decided I was too stupid to know who Bernie Sanders was (or at least how important he should be to me, as the token Black person in the room), that his ill-advised ramblings were sufficient to inform me, and that I was obligated to stop what I was doing to listen to him. He didn’t address anyone else in the waiting room. Just me. And no one said a word in my defense…

My daughter’s face flashed before my eyes, in a split second, and I left. I allowed myself to be disrespected to keep my family and myself safe. I sacrificed my dignity in an effort to protect my life. I am struck even now by the fact that I left without my personhood respected to save my physical person. These are the choices people of color have to grapple with every day. I was able to choose to leave. Sandra Bland was not afforded that option.

Honestly, this is an experience I most likely would not encounter. However, what gets me (as a white female) is that she experienced this all this shame by herself. Her adversary no doubt felt victorious; he sure educated her. Where was her support? Where are the modern day feminists to point out what an ass that guy was? Are the predominately white women that are currently front lining the feminist movement (Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep) helping to advocate for all the non-white women out there in ways that are appropriate to each women’s situation?

Anne Thériault from over at Medium and The Belle Jar is not so sure. In her piece called “Shit White Feminists Need To Stop Doing” she ends with:

5. Arguing That All Other Forms Of Oppression Are Over So We Need to Focus On Women
I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ARQUETTE.
Look, I know that her Oscar speech has been critiqued and analyzed to death, so I won’t dwell on this too much, but — come the fuck on. First of all, saying that we need “all the gay people and people of colour that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now” kind of insinuates that none of those gay people or people of colour are women, no? Second of all, literally read a book or something because racism and homophobia and transphobia are far from over. Third of all, you are a white woman who has benefited from enormous privilege her entire life. You don’t get to tell other marginalized groups what to do.

Here is her complete list.  You should check out the descriptions that follow each item as well.  They might be biting, but her comments deserve some thought.

1. Believing Their Experiences of Marginalization Are Universal
2. Crying About How We’re All On The Same Team
3. Talking About Hijabs (Or Burqas, Or Sex-Selective Abortion, Or Anything, Really)
4. Thinking That All Sex Workers Are All Miserable Wretches Who Hate Their Lives
5. Arguing That All Other Forms Of Oppression Are Over So We Need to Focus On Women

Thériault talks about how most white feminists mean well.  While that is wonderful, it can be damaging.  By not being “intersectional,” white feminists run the risk of being exclusive.  Women of different races, sexual orientation, cultural backgrounds etc. will not see feminism as a safe place…feminism is not really on their side. What is the point of non-inclusive feminism that does not support the women who would benefit most from a connected, unified community?

Some of the articles about white feminists (like the HuffPost vid) use the phrase “white feminists need to shut the fuck up,” and I noted that some commenters are whining about feeling silenced.  Obviously, complete silencing is not the point.  However, it is a little hard to hear what other people are saying when you are constantly using your mouthpiece.  White women (myself included) should make an effort to throw the spotlight onto some of these intertwined topics and women who are dealing with multiple forms of discrimination.  Piper Kerman of Orange is the New Black is a great example of a feminist who has used her white privilege to bring the criminal justice system and the women it entraps into everyday discussion.

However, I think Gloria Steinem provides the best example.

“When asked what she’d say to the women of color who don’t feel that the feminist movement includes them or is about them, she says “I wouldn’t say anything, I’d listen.

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