The term “Feminism” is familiar to most; it can be defined as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” But feminism is not only a fight for gender equality. It is a movement known for being a platform of many different issues. From rape culture, to the wage gap, to more universal problems such as equal educational rights, feminism has become a fight for everyone to have the same rights as men do. However, “Intersectional Feminism” gives feminism a new and even more inclusive meaning.
“Being a woman is a facet of life that can be hard,” said Riverside Math teacher, Ms. Ronak Pahlevanlu, who considers herself an Intersectional Feminist. “But then being a woman of color, being a trans women, or being a woman who is disabled, makes things more complicated.” In 1989, civil rights activist, Kimberlé Crenshaw created the term “Intersectional Feminism”. Feminism is meant to be inclusive, but many times, it is not. This term was made to remind people that injustice faces many different people. Injustice isn’t limited to able-bodied, white women. “We need to be there for all women, not just the ones that are easy to take care of,” said Pahlevanlu. Feminism is primarily a fight for equality; it began just for women, but it has now become a fight for equality for race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, class and ability.
Many issues today come under the umbrella of feminist issues. They have also become “Black Lives Matter”, a response to the injustices African Americans face with police brutality, “Terrorism Has No Religion”, “Immigrants make America great” and various issues that have been affecting Native Americans. To support feminism, it’s important to support each fight. Of course, this doesn’t mean attending every single protest. It means supporting the cause and being an ally. Or, simply, just acknowledging what privileges one would have compared to another person.
Everyone experiences discrimination and inequality in one way or another. Take a black woman for example. She’d have to deal with racism AND sexism. If you add the fact that she’s homosexual you also learn that she must deal with homophobia. Erasing all the problems that are not yours has its own term, white feminism. “White feminism is the base problem with feminism,” said Ms. Pahlevanlu. Unfortunately, equality is not yet achieved. Social justice doesn’t come easy, and no one should think that it is because of the day and age that we are living in. That’s when the idea of privilege comes in. There will always be someone who will have less privilege than another. “There are all these intersecting parts of our lives that make it more challenging” said Pahlevanlu. It’s important to check what advantages you have compared to others. When in a position of privilege, it’s important to speak out for those who are not.
In 2017, feminism is becoming a less taboo subject then it has been in the past. One reason is that minorities are tired of being treated unequally. Because of various social media networks such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, teenagers have the opportunity to educate themselves. “Students know so much more than I ever knew when I was in high school just about social justice issues in general” said Ms. Pahlevanlu. “It’s really refreshing.” Though, the word feminist, has been known to carry so negative connotations. Just like most things, feminism has its flaws, but the true meaning is what’s the most powerful. Because of the negativity attached to this word, a lot of people will choose not to speak up about things that they really believe in. Having a voice is what truly makes a movement.
feature image courtesy of The Mary Sue website