Okay, now that we got that out of the way , let's talk about intersectionality.
Intersectionality was created to address the hegemony of feminist thought and expressions, and as such it is a valuable part of feminist thought. But when it comes to the real lives of real women and how intersectionality is applied and manifested in that real life, we get a very different picture.
During the past week I was told over and over again that if I didn't agree with certain kind of feminism, I was against feminism. I thought this was really odd, because wasn't intersectionality created so we would add voices and thoughts to feminism? How did it end up excluding voices and thoughts? Check this out:
This is what another person had to say:
So we should all fight for our rights where we are, but the recognition that we have to do feminism in different ways depending where we are, that's not intersectionality?
So what is?
If intersectionality is about recognizing that various methods of oppression affect us differently, why can't we talk to people who disagree with us? Why does there have to be consensus on all issues before we can have a conversation? Isn't that what intersectionality tried to address? That there shouldn't be just one way to do feminism.
I believe we should be able to do different kinds of feminism without the derogatory labels. Personally I reject the label "white feminism," because it is used to invalidate my experience as a religious woman within patriarchy because of the color of my skin. I understand that feminists in the past have ignored multiple voices and it is something that had to be addressed and is still an issue. But to say that I have to listen to a woman of color before I can talk about patriarchal oppression in the church is counter-intuitive. Why should a woman of color validate my experience before I can tell a man that sexism in the church is unacceptable? Isn't that what we are trying to do, to get men to understand how they oppress women and to convince them to stop it? Or do we have another agenda?
When men feel comfortable enough to tell women what kind of feminism they are "allowed" to engage in, there is trouble in the air. When men tell women, "Now, now, girls, unless you validate all of these identities, you can't call yourself a feminist, and I won't listen to you," we have created a patriarchal frame that silences women and that can never be the intention or goal of any kind of feminism.
Personally I affirm everyone's right to form their own identities, but I understand also that I can't take a feminism that is centered around same sex love and transgenderism to a woman who lives in a Third World country and say that if she only affirms these identities, then she can also have her own humanity affirmed. Or if she only understands how woc experience American racism, then she can understand and affirm her own humanity. A woman who lives in a culture that is widely different from the western world won't understand what I'm talking about. But if I say that she, as a woman, should have the same rights as the men have, that she will understand. And even that may take time to sink in.
We must begin with the idea that women are human too, for only those who are free can free others. A woman who has realized her own humanity will be able to see other forms of oppression and begin to reject them and fight to free other people. A woman who lives under patriarchal oppression doesn't have the ability or freedom to fight for others, she can't even speak for herself. Patriarchy silences women and the first thing we need to do as feminists is to give women their voices back. We can't do that if we can't meet women where they are with the message of equality.
The inherent idea behind intesectionality is that we all have different experiences, and that they are equally valuable, that diversity is a good thing. Forcing everyone to accept a rigid ideology isn't intersectionality, it's giving with one hand what you take away with the other. It's the same thing we see in churches: supporters of hierarchy say men and woman are equal, but that women should obey men. The same is found in the argument proposed by some egalitarians, that women should be allowed to preach in the church, but they should obey their husbands at home. It validates one kind of oppression while it negates other kinds. If we can't accept people with all of the limitations that a patriarchal world has imposed on them and talk to them, why are we even talking about feminism? If we expect people to accept our identities before we are able to have a conversation, why not just it: we aren't in the business of freeing women, we are in the business of having our own identities affirmed at the expense of the freedom of others.