Intersectional Feminism and the Women’s March on Washington

The following blog has been written by Camille Kim, a contributor to Our Sister’s Keeper, and a student of social justice at George Washington University, in D.C.  The writing expresses her opinions and observations after participating in the Women’s March in D.C.

As an introduction, I am providing a definition of Intersectional Feminism (Marie Plakos)

“Intersectional feminism” is much more than the latest feminist buzzword. It is a decades-old term many feminists use to explain how the feminist movement can be more diverse and inclusive.

If feminism is advocating for women’s rights and equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

 

Intersectional Feminism and the Women’s March on Washington

By Camille Kim

Over the past decade, the feminist movement has grown exponentially. I remember even just a few years ago, people would call me an extremist when I said I was a feminist. The word feminist had an extremely negative connotation. I am glad to say that this does not seem to be the case anymore. On the now historic 21st of January, 2.9 million “feminists” showed up in cities around the country to march for women’s rights. Nowadays, men and women alike call themselves feminists as if it was so obvious it should just be assumed. I am obviously thrilled that the movement has come so far. But there are quite a few very problematic practices coming to light in this new wave of feminism. These practices became very apparent at the Women’s March on Washington.

Let me start by saying, I did not wake up an intersectional feminist. Rewind to three years ago and I was the stereotypical “white feminist”. I assumed that gender equality was the same issue despite the impact that race, gender expression, sexuality, socio-economic background, etc, played into it. I was guilty of the “aren’t we all sisters just in it together” out look. Over time, and with the help of some saintly woke social justice warriors, I learned the error of my thinking. I learned that the struggle women of color have is not the same thing as the struggle white women have. I learned that it is not enough to just support “gender equality”. To be truly feminist, you need to support, push, educate, organize, and lead dialogue, on all topics related to oppression.

So fast forward to the Women’s March. I was thrilled to see such numbers come out to peacefully protest for the rights of women. I was even more excited by the line up of speakers for the rally. The organizers put a lot of effort into representation and inclusivity of multiple demographics. For every speech about reproductive rights, there was a speech about racial justice, and homophobia. Intersectional feminism! Yay!

Except not quite. Despite the organizers attempts at inclusivity, the crowd obviously wasn’t with it. They became antsy and shouted “March! March! March!” over Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother. They expressed more excitement about Madonna and Scarlet Johansen than the incredible Angela Davis. It is true that the rally went longer than it was supposed to, but the lack of respect shown to some of the most important figures in racial progress (ever), as well as the micro aggressions displayed by some of the marchers, clearly illustrated that the “feminist” movement has a long way to go.

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