I previously wrote a post focusing on the distinction between the type of feminism many young adults support today and the kind of feminism some of the general population believe that we advocate for (aka, radical feminism, or the kind that only “feminazis” follow). Today, I want to continue discussing the dissimilarities between the two.
Specifically, I want to briefly touch on the concept of intersectional feminism. Those of you who have been enrolled in a Women’s Studies class before are most likely familiar with this term. For others, hopefully my introduction will suffice.
Essentially, it is analyzing how specific marginalizations of one’s identity affects the issues or experiences that he or she may endure. Based on that, intersectional feminism seems pretty simple, right? However, the complexity of intersectionality grows heavily when looking at a realistic situation.
Following in my Women’s Studies professor’s footsteps, I’m going to use diagrams based on kyriarchy. Kyriarchy is a set of characteristics or social systems that interconnect based upon outlining oppression and privilege, which looks like this:
Below is a diagram of myself. Factors that may impose me to be oppressed is my gender and race. Characteristics that may cause me to be privileged is the fact that I am able-bodied (not physically disabled), a Canadian citizen whose first language is English, heterosexual, middle class, and educated, as I am attending post-secondary.
Analyzing individuals using this diagram helps expose the qualities the areas where privilege and oppression in each person lies, and what type of situations they may experienced based upon this. It is possible for me to be oppressed through sexism or racism, but another woman of colour, who is an immigrant and speaks English as a second language, is far more likely to be oppressed. A white, educated male will be more privileged than I, but a man of colour who is of the LGBTQ community will face more oppression than both the other man and myself.
This is where intersectionality becomes complicated. When you consider the marginalization of an individual, it becomes harder to find the solution to equality because everyone is so diverse. Exiting a heterosexual domestic violence situation would already be hard for me, as a woman. Now imagine how hard it is to leave for a woman who has newly immigrated to Canada with her violent husband, when she knows no one and does not speak English very well. What’s worse is if she’s completely financially dependent on him too. Further, knowledge of intersectionality is beneficial in order to understand when you are being oppressed or when you have privilege. In some cases, it may seem like you are being oppressed, when in reality, another group is just beginning to gain rights that you have always possessed.
Personally, I think it is important for everyone to analyze situations using the intersectionality theory. However, I think it is most important for people in occupational positions, where accessibility and equity is the focus, to use it. Whether this is accessibility to insurance, medical care, rehabilitation, financial aid, emergency shelter, etc, it is essential to take in consideration the qualities that individuals are already marginalized by.