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Intersectional Feminism

(67 Posts)
MercyMyJewels Sat 04-Feb-17 12:21:28

My head is bursting with all the titles associated with feminism. In particular, the issue / accusation of being a white feminist.

I am a feminist. I also try hard to fight against racism, although I am not an activist. But I'm not an activist feminist either. I have been reading a lot about feminism on these boards and trying to educate myself more. But I have come across quite a few articles / podcasts recently critical of white middle class women and that they have to understand the plight of black women to really 'get' feminism.

But I AM a white woman, arguably middle class now, though not by birth. I know that black women are oppressed due to their sex and race but does that make me not entitled to discuss feminism as a white woman? And if I do, does that make me racist? Or is this a ridiculous competition to establish the most oppressed and we should fight against sexism and racism but they don't have to be one issue?

Apologies for this garbled post but hoping that some of you eloquent women can untangle my confused thoughts on intersectional feminism.

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Sat 04-Feb-17 12:22:51

There was a recent thread here about this that had some great posts that finally kind of settled this for me! Will see if I can find it.

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Sat 04-Feb-17 12:25:13

I read this thread and it helped me to make some sense of this issue - there are probably other more in depth threads but this was recent so I remember it.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/2836970-Is-being-an-ally-really-all-that-women-can-do-if-they-dont-also-belong-to-another-at-risk-group

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 04-Feb-17 13:00:26

I am white. I like in an almost all white community. Many of the people who aren't white are involved in the university and are doing probably better than me financially. As a feminist I have been unable to find a local group, and it would have to be local because I don't have either any transport or much money. So basically I'm an online feminist and in my attitudes and approach to everyday life. All the people close to me know of my feelings on the subject.

Intersectionality is something I understand in principle but have no way of engaging with in practice. Trouble is, there aren't enough out and public feminists. We represent 10% of women but that 10% doesn't start groups.

Take me, for instance. I could theoretically start my own group. University town, you'd think there should be loads of takers. But it takes a committee loving woman to start a group: someone who enjoys organising things. Which I hate. And am crap at.

I went to a feminist conference last summer and loved it. Will definitely go to another. In the meantime I sign petitions and engage online. I object very strongly to the idea that white feminism is worthy of attack simply because it's white. It's all about class analysis. Women are oppressed. as women. Race or disability can be shown as oppressive by class analysis in the same way. I am partially disabled.

Of course there's also the American angle. I believe the dismissive "white feminism" accusation comes from there. The dramatic figures that demonstrate the oppression of African Americans just don't happen to that extent here, for a whole range of reasons. I would have a hard time finding someone in real life who would welcome me trying to engage in intersectionality.

YetAnotherSpartacus Sat 04-Feb-17 13:22:58

My brain exploded when I was accused of being a 'white middle-class feminist' by a white middle-class born-male TRA. He was born MC and white (and male). I was born WC and my heritage is mixed (tho you'd never guess and I never pretend to be anything but white) and female.

I figured then it was the equivalent of 'know your place in the pecking order and shut up you mouthy, castrating bitch and let the men talk'.

DeviTheGaelet Sat 04-Feb-17 13:54:00

In my opinion "white feminism" is the new "TERF". It's used as a way to silence women talking about issues affecting women and guilt trip them into staying silent. Like "TERF" it has some grounds in reality. Black women definitely have less of a voice in feminism (and society as a whole) than white women and need to be heard. But people using "white feminist" tend to be other white people and use it as tone/conversation policing.
It's really getting my goat recently. I'm in an intersectional group and we seem to spend more time discussing all other social issues than those actually affecting women. Not sure that was the intent of the original "intersectional" concept

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Sat 04-Feb-17 14:26:31

Prawnofthepatriarchy can I ask what conference or who hosted the conference? I have tried to find talks/ conferences but seem to not be able to tap in - any suggestions would be appreciated if you don't mind me asking.

OlennasWimple Sat 04-Feb-17 14:34:07

I hate the whole "check your privilege" stuff.

It's not my fault I was born a white woman. It's not my fault that I am MC. I won't apologise for it. I am happy for someone to point out if I am advocating for something that would have a detrimental impact on a minority group, but I won't apologise for who I am

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 04-Feb-17 14:38:51

It was in London in July, run by Eventbrite. The speaker sessions are all up on YouTube.

Feminists Thinking Differently. Here's [[https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zHbn46HSvQI a link] to one of the speeches, the rest are all there.

It was amazing I had a wonderful day. I don't meet new people enough. I was awe struck by the tall elegant warrior like lesbians doing security and touched by the grey haired couples strolling up hand in hand, and by all the different women I spoke to. I stayed at the pub afterwards and had a chat with Magdalen Bern who was very funny and friendly with everyone. I got a photo with her after telling her I was a massive fan. She nearly pissed herself laughing.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 04-Feb-17 14:40:04

I'll try that link again.

MercyMyJewels Sat 04-Feb-17 14:40:33

Thanks Fuckoff. That was a great thread.

I was listening to some podcasts where black women and white women, having been on the recent women's marches, were insisting that intersectional feminism was the only liberal /progressive path. However, aside from the fact that some trans issues are in conflict with women's interests, conflating racism and sexism seems to me making the goals of such a a body too wide and therefore unachievable. There was a thread on here recently (one of the women's marches ones) where a black poster was being very critical of the march because she perceived it to be a white woman's march.. and that white women did not do enough to help the oppression of black women. While this is undoubtedly true, does this means that white women are inherently racist and have no right to march for women as a group? It seems to me that intersectionality is a recipe for getting nothing done.

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Sat 04-Feb-17 15:09:27

Thank you, prawn have now found a few events. Thanks. Am feeling sickly today so will listen to some of those speakers.

mercy Yes, actually now I've just re-read that thread i can see that I have put a few threads together in my head. There is another one where someone weighs in and made the point that because of intersectionality, yet again, women are being "tasked with sorting out the problems of others" something like that and that made a lot of sense to me.

And yes, that is a recipe for getting nothing done - how can we be tasked with fighting everyone's battle?

I don't mind the check your privilege - I've never had it used against me in any derogatory way except when I was genuinely being blinded /biased by my own privilege. But maybe that's because I don't have much exposure to anyone who would say that to me!

CharlieSierra Sat 04-Feb-17 17:24:34

Thank you for that link Prawn I just spent the afternoon on YouTube as a result.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 04-Feb-17 17:45:36

It was a lovely day. Brilliant speakers, and I was so excited to be talking to so many other feminists. I keep meaning to get a print of my photo with MB. I don't think she's going to shut up any time soon. One day it will be like having a picture of myself with Germaine Greer. smile

quencher Sat 04-Feb-17 18:06:48

Op, "white feminism" focuses on those that only care about what happens to only white women or women in general without underlying issues that might affect another groups of women. From your post you have stated what other issues you might get involved in and by doing that you are not the "white feminist" being discussed.
When people discus intersectionality in regards to racism, they are not referring to racism as a whole. It's referring to racism that a black woman faces because she is black woman and a white woman may never face. It's still feminism. If a black woman is being paid less than a white woman. That is a case of racism and sexism combined. But only racism because that of the sex of that woman.

By the way if that is the feminism you see as the future then good for you all. I will keep fighting racism and sexism because I know both affects me as woman. And it does explain why when a sexism regarding black women occurs a lot more people are quieter. It is also, seen as racism and not sexism.

IntersectIonal does not mean you have to jump on every band Wagon there is.

I was really tired on the other thread. I hope I didn't make a jumble of an argument.

quencher Sat 04-Feb-17 18:33:29

Intersectional feminism is just a bigger and more inclusive version of womanism. The moving away from white middle class feminist movement is not a new thing. Before it was down to racism and exclusion of women of colour.

MorrisZapp Sat 04-Feb-17 18:38:09

Can I just ask, what things do white feminists do to exclude black feminists?

Prawnofthepatriarchy Sat 04-Feb-17 19:23:35

I would only be interested in why someone called me a white feminist if my accuser was a non-white feminist. I would want to understand and, hopefully, do better. When it comes to white men or TW, even other women, it just seems to stand for STFU, you stupid woman. I've heard online feminists tell other posters off for being "white feminists" and then further down it turns out that they are white feminists themselves. Mind you, they're usually very young and right on.

venusinscorpio Sat 04-Feb-17 19:29:47

YY Prawn. My sentiments exactly. I was just about to post pretty much the same.

MrsTerryPratchett Sat 04-Feb-17 19:36:01

Divide and conquer.

I do a lot of work with First Nations women and you'd better believe that I STFU and listen more than usual. However, if some bloke wants to silence women, let's call it what it is.

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Sat 04-Feb-17 19:45:18

I would only be interested in why someone called me a white feminist if my accuser was a non-white feminist.
Yes, I agree as well.

Barcoo2 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:27:52

OP I've NC'd to post here. I too am new to 'intersectional feminism' - I've never been actively involved in feminism until I started reading MN after babies. although reading widely since has shown I've always been a quite staunch second waver in outlook. I have been involved in campaigns that are about defending the rights of a racial group and have worked respectfully with people from that targeted minority - obviously they have set the agenda in the campaigns. To me that is right and natural.

My local mums facebook group has become awash with intersectional feminism/identity politics (the two go hand in hand) ideas, although no one actually seems to understand that it is ONE perspective. It is presented as universal and reasonable.

It all kicked off after a post was shut down because some nasty real racist snake posted a comment and an admin panicked and deleted the thread. Discussions afterwards attacked admin (a couple of fairly ignorant well meaning white women) for 'tone policing' and there was a lot of finger pointing, accusing admin of being the real enemy and racist. Forget the woman who posted the original offensive comment!

Some of the (intersectional) mums have flounced and set up their own group, because of the 'racism' on the mums group. The goals of the group state 'you must believe in intersectional feminism'.

I have been doing careful reading and have come to the conclusion that it is dangerous nonsense. I don't believe there is any feminist who would deny the basic concepts of intersectionality. On that everyone agrees. It is harder for BAME women, disabled women etc.

However to be an 'intersectional feminist' is something different. You need to subscribe to the idea that women who are discriminated against in society don't get leadership positions (true, they don't, this is fucked). So 'intersectional feminism' is about letting someone from a discriminated group become the group's (unspoken) leader and set the agenda. What they say goes. You are not allowed to question them on Tumblr Truths they say, or challenge them or seek clarification or even engage them in conversation. They are allowed to be rude and angry about inequality, their sycophantic sidekicks will tell you. You are not if you are a white feminist.

This is what's happened in my group anyway. The 'intersectional feminists' have been posting Everyday Feminism articles and telling mums they are racist if they are unaware of their structural advantages/white privilege. (I've argued that this makes the definition of racism so wide as to render it meaningless but apparently it's a vairy wide spectrum according to some pop culture viral article from America).

A whole lot of mums now are making public declarations lambasting themselves for having been racist but now see the light and want to acknowledge it. The 'intersectional feminists' who are pulling all the strings make 'Hallelujah praise the lord!' type sentiments and urge them to read more on Everyday Feminism.

I feel it is all a bit cultish. Identity politics is often criticised because there is no way of evaluating or checking the quality of the 'leader's' ideas. There was even an unpleasant interaction on the mums page where someone from a significantly disadvantaged minority (the self-appointed leader) questioned someone else who said they were from a minority and forced them to describe their appearance. Apparently this is not uncommon, as subaltern hierarchies need to be established, as the whole concept is hierarchical in nature.

I am rambling and incoherent sorry, have screaming baby, must go.

Here is one reason why intersectional feminism is totally fucked. According to this article, white feminists should support campaigns for halal cosmetics, and FGM is because of British colonialism. I'm usually the first to blame British colonialism for problems but I'm afraid I can't follow this argument. Do we listen to this line or do we take our leadership from Ayaan Hirsi Ali? everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/feminism-fails-muslim-women/

Barcoo2 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:33:52

I should add that the logical consequence of intersectional feminism is that transwomen become leaders of feminist groups and other progressive groups. After all, they are the most disadvantaged of all. They have the right to state they are triggered and unsafe by anything that is said, hence why women are being shut down for talking about their reproductive rights. It's intersectional feminism that is trying to shut down Julie Bindel and the working class library. I'm utterly fucking sick of the whole insidious thing. I need to go and DIE IN A FIRE.

DeviTheGaelet Sat 04-Feb-17 20:38:12

Totally agree barcoo

Barcoo2 Sat 04-Feb-17 21:32:02

Thanks Devi it feels good to have this feminist bolthole with intelligent women (much more intelligent than me) who refuse to take things at face value.

I just clicked on that muslim women everyday feminism link to have another head-shaking session, and a pop up appeared, telling me about workshops for 'healing from toxic whiteness'. FUCK OFF.

I actually think that the whole acknowledging your white privilege hand wringing thing is white people being self-indulgent and dominating spaces with their problems. Intersectional feminists from the minorities, who are the leaders, have become self-satisfied little tyrants who love all these people prostrating themselves around them. I don't think they are that way naturally, but that is what they become by this system.

A lot of the criticisms I've read about identity politics say that there is no broader understanding of capitalism and class. It's just 'you're racist, you must acknowledge it'. Everyone should be able to choose the ideology or perspective they want instead of slavishly following the nearest, loudest person who comes from a minority who may have pretty fucked up ideas.

Gah, I need to go and smash something.

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