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Intersectional Feminism: Feminism for Everyone

You may have heard the term intersectional feminism from various sources⎯-online, in class, or in casual discussion. And you may be wondering, what exactly is intersectional feminism? Here’s a breakdown of what it is and why it’s important and relevant to everyone.

A common misconception is that feminism excludes men; however, it actually fights for equality of all sexes and all genders. In fact, the feminist movement aims to work for the equality of all groups of people.

Ultimately, feminists work to dismantle the patriarchy.  It is important to understand that the patriarchy harms both women and men. For example, the patriarchy encourages a toxic definition of masculinity. Masculinity is measured by how dominant a man is. This manifests into several unrealistic expectations, such as the expectation for men to conceal their emotions and only express anger in order to appear more dominant. The patriarchy excludes and shames those who do not conform to these heteronormative gender roles.

Intersectionality is important, since intersectional feminism aims to combat the exclusion of certain groups of people and includes all different forms of oppression (transphobia, racism, classism, and ableism) in the feminist movement. Feminism that is not intersectional excludes those who do not conform to the “one size-fits all” approach to feminism. We simply can’t prioritize which form of oppression is more worthy of our attention.

One of the many issues intersectional feminists try to address within the movement is racism. As a woman of color, I recognize how my ethnicity affects various aspects of my life, so it is especially important to me to consider how race shapes the construct of our social world. Some feminists feel as though including race with feminism will lead to division and exclusion within the feminist movement. However, inclusion of other identity markers such as race ensures a truer and more accurate feminist lens through which we see society. Failing to acknowledge the unique experiences of women of color only undermines the reality of their struggles. And this goes against what the feminist movement fights for.

That being said, intersectional feminism is the best way to address all issues within our society and to effectively fight all forms of inequality. A feminist can’t work to eradicate inequality without acknowledging the diversity of her fellow peers and understanding how all aspects of their identity affect their daily experiences and struggles. Intersectional feminism is inclusive of all different groups of people, and it is feminism for everyone.

 

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Amanda is a fourth year UCD student majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a minor in Psychology. She is an undergraduate research assistant at an affective neuroscience lab on campus. When she isn't studying or working, Amanda enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix, doodling, napping, and hanging out with her friends.
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