By: Jillian James
There has been a lot of discussion among feminists lately about the topic of intersectionality. But what does it mean, and why is it important? Simply put, intersectionality is the conversion and consideration of different cultures and people that are a part of the feminist community. For example, a young Latina feminist may have different priorities than a middle-aged white woman who considers herself a feminist. Being intersectional in your thinking means considering the voices and needs of ALL groups who stand by your cause.
The feminist community has been criticized in the past for only including the voices of white women. Scholar and professor Kimberle Crenshaw introduced the topic of intersectional feminism in a 1989 paper that she wrote entitled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” She stated that black women had been excluded from feminist activities and feminist theory, and that a black woman’s race and gender could not be seen as two separate entities.
A key part of understanding intersectionality is comprehending that feminism is not one-size-fits-all. It is a very personal thing for each woman who decides to call herself a feminist, and every woman will have certain issues that are close to her. Some women may be concerned about he gender pay gap, while others are worried about issues like paid maternity leave or abortion access. Considering the experiences and voices of every woman of every social, racial, and economic background is the key to making feminism as inclusive and representative as possible.