Why Should Be Feminism Replaced by Intersectional Feminism?

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There have been a load of debates around the theme of feminism, about it being the need of an hour and the simultaneous misuses. Social media has been the major driving force behind the third wave and fourth wave of feminism. Movements like the Metoo movement swept across countries with the use of internet tools by the survivors of sexual violence. Debates over movements like these bring light to the theme of privilege which builds the need for the notion of intersectionality. 

Our privilege becomes our lens through which we see the world. It hinders our vision and leads to the invisibilization of the people in the lower end of the spectrum. In order to understand the notion of intersectionality we need to understand and acknowledge the presence of our privilege.  

The meaning of intersectional feminism 

Intersectional feminism can be defined as a combination, overlap and intersection of different identities in the course of feminism such as caste, class,race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexuality, language, culture and so on. The word was first used by civil rights activist and scholar KimberlĂ© Crenshaw. Intersectionality is dismissing the course of action of feminism that is overtly controlled by white, upper caste, upper class, heterosexual women and men. 

The need to understand privilege and oppression

In order to understand what is intersectional feminism one needs to understand what privilege is. Oppression comes in different colours to different people and to put an end to it one must acknowledge their own privilege. Privilege that literally means advantage of one group or a person over another because of their power dynamics has a different meaning in the sociological sense. Broadly, the term privilege sociologically means any advantage that is exclusive, unlearned and is  also socially conferred. 

We can say that white people are privileged in the sense that when one is asked to imagine a criminal, the image that comes to their mind is generally of a black person or a human being of colour.  Hence white people as a group are not routinely or frequently assumed to be criminals as compare to  the people of colour are.  As we can see here, an element of stigma is attached to darker skin tones only. 

Intersectionality in feminism comes to action when this privilege is utilized in the discourse of the same. Throughout history the movement of feminism has been homogenized by the privileged and the injustices faced by the subaltern population were being invisibilized. Through intersectional feminism the marginalized will be empowered to fight their own battles.  
What is the need for intersectional feminism?

You might be wondering what the need for intersectional feminism is when feminism is already there which itself thrives for equality among all genders regardless of any factors such as caste, creed, and class etc. History is produced and reproduced by the powerful, one who has the means to narrate one’s story. As people often say that the hunter will continuously be glorified until the lion learns to write his own story. The need for intersectional feminism arises when one’s painful experiences of injustice are narrated or even romanticized by a person who had the privilege to not experience the same. 

One’s life experiences come from different identities and these identities intersect and overlap. Women of colour are doubly discriminated against law as two identities come into interplay such as gender and race. A woman from the LGBTQ community might be facing more obstacles at her workplace. 

The life of a muslim woman in India is influenced and shaped by two identities i.e. religion and gender. Life would be much more difficult and marginalized for a dalit muslim woman as in this case three factors such as religion, gender, and caste are in action. Women of such diversity are triply marginalized in our country. A research from the IWDA shows that disabled women are more prone to face violence from their immediate family members and their romantic partners. 

As seen in the history of the feminist movement, the movement has been driven and narrated by the white population with the means of production. Experiences faced by black women were carried and looked on by the lenses of the white population. Intersectional feminism comes into the context when there are multiple overlapping and interdependent systems of disadvantage and discrimination. 

Therefore, there is a need for the world to be open to intersectional feminism apart from treating women and men differently, women pertaining to different backgrounds and physical features are looked at and treated differently too. Intersectionality is needed so as to bring attention to the invisibility that exists in feminism. It forces us to focus on the unequal structures of power that is not experienced by everyone. 

We need the future to be intersectional because we need 'feminism' for everyone.  

Written by – Daity Talukdar

Edited by: Chhavi Gupta
Why Should Be Feminism Replaced by Intersectional Feminism? Why Should Be Feminism Replaced by Intersectional Feminism? Reviewed by Chhavi Gupta on May 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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