Intersectional Feminism – And How This Upper-Middle Class White Girl is Learning To Be a Better Feminist

intersectional feminism - blonde wearing feminist patch bomber jacket

(PSA: Here’s the link to this amazing feminist bomber jacket)

Hey my wonderful, amazing, bad-ass LegalLee Blonde readers! I know most of you identify as feminists, and are all about promoting equality between the genders and seeing our fellow women rise and do amazing things. … Is your feminism actually including everyone though? Do you support intersectional feminism? Read on to find out.

What Is Intersectional Feminism?

The term “intersectionality” was coined by Critical Race Theorist  Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, but the concept of intersectionality has been around since the 1850’s. Originally, intersectionality was used to refer to the discrimination faced by black women by way of sexism and racism. The definition has since expanded though to include discrimination faced by anyone who identifies with multiple groups that face discrimination in our current society.

Think of it this way: if feminism encourages equality between the genders, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how other aspects of women’s identities — including their race, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

One definition I also really like is that expressed by Juliet Williams; a professor of gender studies at UCLA. She says intersectional feminism is: “a form of feminism that stands for the rights and empowerment of all women, taking seriously the fact of differences among women, including different identities based on radicalization, sexuality, economic status, nationality, religion, and language. Intersectional feminism attends to the ways in which claims made in the name of women as a class can function to silence or marginalize some women by universalizing the claims of relatively privileged women.”

 

Why Is Intersectional Feminism Important?

Intersectional feminism recognizes that there are certainly privileges and advantages afforded to some women that make efforts at equality easier. Real Talk? I’m an upper middle class white girl and that comes with certain privileges. It’s important then that I recognize my privilege and ensure that that privilege is not overshadowing the experiences and needs of other women.

At the end of the day, the goal of feminism is to achieve equality for all people of all genders. In order to do this, we can’t ignore the extra challenges and barriers precluding such equality.

fashion blogger wearing wildfang feminist bomber jacket

 

How To Support Intersectional Feminism:

Speak up, and stand with, groups other than your own. Here are 3 ways to support intersectionality in the feminist movement:

1) Be an Ally: You can support groups you are not a part of. Check your privilege and don’t let that overshadow others. Use your privilege to defend the rights of others and support the movement for equality for them.

2) Expand Your Understanding: When talking about feminist issues look at other sides to the issue and peoples’ experiences. Instead of asking how the issue relates to gender, also ask how it relates to race, sexuality, etc.

3) Speak Out: Don’t just use your voice to support your own feminist ‘group’. Defend equality for ALL genders. This means being anti-racist, anti-classist, pro-choice, pro-trans & accepting of all sexual orientations.

 

Why I’m A Feminist and Why I Support Intersectional Feminism:

Feminism matters y’all. Equal pay and equal rights matter. Equal safety matters. Have you heard the line that the biggest fear men have of women is us laughing at them, while the biggest fear women have of men is them killing us? There is a shared experience that all women have in being the ‘lesser’ gender according to our patriarchal society. I don’t know a single woman who has never experienced discrimination because they’re a woman…

Not. One. Woman.

That is crazy to me, and in general that is why I will not stop speaking up for equality and women’s rights. On a personal level, I’ve experienced first hand the impacts that stem from living in a patriarchal society. I’ve been mugged, I’ve been sexually assaulted, and I have been called “sweetie”, “hun” and “miss” at work more times than I can possibly count. Oh, and women still make 75 cents on the dollar compared to men. GROSS.

That said, my experiences and the share experience of our gender cannot and should not overshadow the rights of those facing different challenges than I am because they are facing discrimination on other levels as well. I am, by fact, a ‘white feminist’ but I do not want to practice “white feminism”. I plan on continually asking questions of my fellow feminists- especially ones with different experiences and struggles than  mine – so that I can do my best to fight for true intersectional feminism and equality for all.

 

Intersectional Feminism – It’s Not All Hearts & Rainbows:

In writing this post, I’d be remiss if I did not share with you all the fact that intersectional feminism is not without it’s critics. It’s a hotly debated issue. I read recently a really interesting article by a black woman about why she was “breaking up” with intersectional feminism. Essentially, she felt that many women (mostly us upper-middle class white women) were using the term and preaching intersectionality without really living up to what that means.

intersectional feminism blonde wearing wildfang feminist patch jacket

Shop My Feminist Patch Bomber Jacket:

PS. If you want to see more of my Real Talk posts, they’re all listed in my blogger header under the “Real Talk” tab. Don’t miss my post on how YOU may be paying more taxes just because you’re a woman.

linking up with: friday favorites // #fashionfriday // FFF

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30 Comments

  1. SofiaaDot July 6, 2018 / 7:03 am

    Oh this was such an interesting read! Love posts like this girl!

    xx Sofia | SOFIAADOT

    • Lee July 6, 2018 / 7:19 am

      Aw thank you so, so much! I really appreciate hearing that! These posts (clearly) take a lot more work (and vulnerability) than my outfit posts, so I love hearing that readers are actually really into them!

  2. lesley-kim July 6, 2018 / 11:00 am

    What a fascinating post. I think feminism have so many different meanings, and it can sometimes even be an individualized concept depending on each woman. I really enjoy your thoughts about this. Plus I love your jacket!

    Lesley Kim

    • Lee July 6, 2018 / 11:53 am

      Thank you so much Lesley! It was a bit nerve wracking sharing this post, so I’m glad to hear you found it interesting (or at least thought provoking!) and I totally agree that it can be individualized concept. I think my perspective is that what you mean when you say “I am a feminist” is VERY personal and very individualized. But, when you say you are fighting for feminism and fighting for gender equality, then I think it becomes, or should become, a bit more generalized and inclusive. That’s why I found this concept of intersectional feminism so interesting, because as a feminist I want to promote equality and push for women to succeed, but I’m now learning how much that means I need to step back from just what I think would ‘advance women’s rights’ and consider other perspectives and life-experiences.

  3. courtneyhardyblog July 6, 2018 / 11:33 am

    I love your postivity and openness towards talking about this subject. Keep rocking it girl. #womanarethefuture

    • Lee July 6, 2018 / 11:54 am

      Thank you SO much Courtney! I really appreciate you reading the post!

  4. Rach DiMare July 6, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Thanks for this post girl! I’ve never heard of ‘Intersectional Feminism’ until now. Always love to learn and educate myself to be a better person!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    • Lee July 6, 2018 / 11:55 am

      Thank YOU so much Rach for reading it! I honestly had no idea about this issue until a few months ago either. It’s definitely made me learn and grow as a feminist as I am working to be more open to other perspectives!

  5. Kim July 6, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    This post is so inspiring and I love that you shared all of this! So many people need to learn different perspectives.

    xoxo,
    Kim

    • Lee July 7, 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Thank you Kim. It was a nerve-wracking one to write. I’m really glad people are finding it informative!

  6. kileen July 6, 2018 / 6:48 pm

    Love this post. I think it’s so important to support each other and especially our fellow women. Thank you for sharing!

    Kileen
    cute & little

    • Lee July 7, 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Thank you Kileen! I appreciate you reading it! <3

  7. kathrineeldridge1 July 7, 2018 / 8:56 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this topic that I had no idea about. I can see why the woman at the end of this post broke away from this. So many people don’t practice what they preach. Definitely will check my privilege and ponder this more. Amazing post!

    https://www.kathrineeldridge.com

    • Lee July 7, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      Thank you so much Kathrine. I’m so glad you found the post helpful.

  8. sarasab July 8, 2018 / 10:49 am

    I applaud you for sharing your thoughts on a non-fluffy topic. As bloggers it’s easy to shy away from the hard hitting topics!

    • Lee July 8, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      Aw thank you!! I really like doing my Real Talk posts in addition to my travel and work wear!

  9. Stephanie July 8, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    This was such an interesting post to read through. It’s fascinating to me to read on other peoples’ views and life choices, as well as opinions. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Lee July 8, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you found it interesting! Thanks for reading.

  10. Bev July 8, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    Amazing post. So much to digest that I’ll let it percolate overnight then reread it tommorrow. Kudos to you for your insight and bravery in writing this .

    • Lee July 8, 2018 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you so much!!

    • Lee July 8, 2018 / 9:43 pm

      Thank you so much Megan. Your support in these type of posts means a lot 🙂

    • Lee July 9, 2018 / 12:09 pm

      Thank you so much Azanique, I really appreciate you checking out my post!

  11. Karen July 9, 2018 / 10:53 am

    Interesting conversation however ultimately you are selling fast fashion products (which exploit mainly female labour and environmentally damaging) and using feminism as a marketing tool. It’s ironic you note: “Essentially, she felt that many women (mostly us upper-middle class white women) were using the term and preaching intersectionality without really living up to what that means….” That is exactly what you are doing by talking about feminism and then juxtaposing it with a sales pitch.

    • Lee July 9, 2018 / 12:23 pm

      Thanks for sharing your opinion; though I of course disagree. I am certainly not saying I am a perfect feminist; I don’t think anyone is. I try to spend more of my money on ethically produced beauty and fashion, but yes I absolutely do still wear some ‘fast fashion’ brands. I think if you are suggesting that one should only talk about feminism or encourage it or call themselves a feminist if they do “nothing wrong” than that is simply going to far. I work hard to support many feminist issues and the fact that I buy and wear on the blog some items that may not be produced in the best labour markets, does not in my opinion retract at all from what I am saying or doing. I am not sure how you see this particular post as a “sales pitch”. What am I selling in your opinion? I did link up my jacket because I assumed many women would like it; so I guess technically I am ‘selling’ that; but my intent in sharing that one was to simply share where it was from. The company it is from, Wildfang, is a US based company who as far as I know produces in factories in the USA. They also donate a ton of money to causes such as the ACLU and planned parenthood; so in my opinion they are an awesome brand/company to support.

  12. Laura July 9, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    I’d never heard of ‘Intersectional Feminism’ until now so thank you so much for sharing about it! It is so important to stand up for the rights of everyone regardless of sex, race, economic status, etc.

    xo, Laura

    • Lee July 9, 2018 / 1:21 pm

      Thank you so much for reading Laura!!

  13. Kristina July 10, 2018 / 4:21 am

    I’m so glad that women are being more vocal and speaking up on important issues these days- those patches on your jacket are too cute!

    • Lee July 10, 2018 / 9:16 am

      Thank you so much Kristina!

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