My Feminism Will Be Intersectional

Flavia Dzodan wrote, “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

In honor of Feminist Womanist month I think there is nothing more appropriate to discuss.

While it shouldn’t be surprising, there are times that I am still shocked by the divides within feminism. Too often I encounter women who advocate for the equal treatment of women, for the fairness that our gender deserves, without ever mentioning race.

Too often I see women speak about the inequality, the inequity, between the male and female genders, yet narrowly avoid discussing the inequality within the female gender.

Too often we forget that our feminism must be intersectional, that it must acknowledge the overlap within our identities. Our races, our genders, our sexualities, our socioeconomic statuses are not independent of one another. In fact, they are inherently tied to each other.

To be a woman of color, to be a woman with a marginalized sexuality, to be a woman of a low socioeconomic status, or to be any combination of these, makes life, and the judgments that society places upon us, all the more difficult.

To be a woman of multiple marginalized identities calls for intersectional feminism. It demands for people to advocate for more than just equality between genders, but within. If we as a society are to fight only for gender equality, we lose.

We must vie for intersectional feminism, intersectional equality.

We must realize that it isn’t enough to fight for one type of justice over another, that it feels counterintuitive to simply be a “feminist” when I could be an “intersectional feminist.”

I think that the pay gap remains a salient example of the disparities between the male and female genders, but are even more indicative of the disparities between white women and women of color.

We always hear that women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, but what society doesn’t acknowledge is that it is white women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women earn only 65 cents and Latina women earn an unjust 58, according to a Pew Research Center study.

We cannot ignore the racial implications of that. We cannot ignore the racial implications of many things, but especially the racial implications of feminism.

We cannot advocate for movements like the Women’s March, one of the most intersectional feminist movements in recent history, and then return to a feminism so singular, so absent of race, that it seems to leave out groups of women.

As women, we must be better. We must demand more for not only ourselves, but also for one another.

We must realize the imperfections of a feminist-only movement and call for more, because feminism isn’t enough for women of color or for queer women.

We need intersectional feminism in thought and action because while feminism does not always cater to me and, even when it does, it certainly doesn’t cater to all other women. Feminism itself vies for the equality of all genders and often forgets that equality is determined by more than just gender.

While this is the perfect month to be vocal about intersectional feminism, it is not the only time to be vocal.

Just as we can’t isolate one part of a person’s identity, we cannot pick and choose when to speak up. The intolerance towards, and the oppression, of women with multiple marginalized identities won’t stop simply because of one march. It doesn’t stop because a hash tag trends on Twitter. And it certainly won’t stop when we demand a feminism that is not intersectional.

That feminism is willfully ignorant, it’s unrepresentative, and it’s bullshit.


by Kristina Smith

Kristina Smith