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'My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit" - Flavia Drozdan

(95 Posts)
JenniferJames Tue 13-Feb-18 15:15:55

A frustrated Flavia Drozdan once wrote this line in an essay which opened up a raging debate within feminism about who, exactly, feminism is for. Interested to hear people's thoughts?

Will check back, ppl. Mumsnet: you are mighty. 👊

terryleather Tue 13-Feb-18 15:18:32

Feminism is for women and girls.
And it never intersects with penis.

OuchBollocks Tue 13-Feb-18 15:23:18

Why is it only are women obliged to be intersectional when seeking fair treatment for themselves as an oppressed class?

53rdWay Tue 13-Feb-18 15:26:11

Haven’t read her piece. I do see the value in intersectionality as Kimberlé Crenshaw writes about it.

I suppose roughly put, I’d state my own approach as: feminism is a movement for the freedom of women and girls from male supremacy, and since this includes women and girls as a class, it needs also to consider where other oppressions come into play for some groups of women and girls. So: you can’t focus exclusively on getting more women CEOs, while ignoring the way the effects of poverty keep poor women trapped; you can’t focus on telling women we shouldn’t be ashamed of our female bodies, while ignoring that black women get an extra load of that shame based on the interplay of race and sex.

Intersectional to include all groups of women: yes, absolutely.

‘Intersectional’ to include all forms of oppression that affect anyone, removing the focus from women and girls: no.

GuardianLions Tue 13-Feb-18 15:30:49

I remember a perfect retort

"My feminism will be ABOUT WOMEN or it will be bullshit"

That essay really opened up the floodgates to misogyny and people getting a visceral satisfaction from hating and silencing feminists.

Melamin Tue 13-Feb-18 15:36:03

Feminism is about females.

Really not up to speed on intersectionality and who has what privilege. It does not seem helpful.

BigDeskBob Tue 13-Feb-18 15:42:45

True intersectional feminism is fantastic for all women and girls.

But I will not be told to to shut the fuck up and put my needs behind that of a man - even if that man is wearing a pretty dress or is the leader of a political party.

AssignedPuuurfectAtBirth Tue 13-Feb-18 15:43:00

Her feminism is bullshit. Feminism is for females

Collidascope Tue 13-Feb-18 15:47:53

I'd say feminism is about liberating women. Criticising feminists for not being sufficiently intersectional seems to me to be like those meat-eaters who tell vegetarians off and accuse them of hypocrisy for not going far enough and becoming vegan. I think if you're trying to improve the world in some way, it isn't particularly fair of other people to come and tell you off for not taking on more or taking on the role that they consider to be important. And in most cases, as with the vegetarian vegan argument, I think it's meant to make us give up and stop us addressing the problem altogether (for fear of being hypocritical or inconsistent) rather than making us do more to address injustice. Typical whatabouttery. Very few of us are going to be completely consistent in the way we go about our activism. Luckily, there are lots of us to focus on the different parts that need to be done.

stoneagefertilitydoll Tue 13-Feb-18 15:54:19

Intersectionality is important - but it's layers, not where two things touch!

Ie someone who is a woman, and is poor, and is black has layers of oppression, and her experience is viewed through that lens (as is she judged back through it)

it's AND not OR

feminism is fundamentally about women - and transwomen are transwomen, they don't intersect with feminism.

Intersectional mens rights, intersectional race and class analysis, sure, but not feminism, because they're not female.

UpstartCrow Tue 13-Feb-18 15:55:31

53rdWay said it.

Feminism that includes someone with a penis at the expense of some women is not feminism at all.

OuchBollocks Tue 13-Feb-18 15:58:49

I think it's meant to make us give up and stop us addressing the problem altogether (for fear of being hypocritical or inconsistent)

This is how I feel. I don't doubt that some feminists can't see past the end of their nose, and am certain that historical feminism was very white upper class centric, but I cannot see how calling out sexual assault, domestic violence, poor pay, the low priority womens health concerns take etc etc can do anything but benefit the very most disadvantaged women in society.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Tue 13-Feb-18 16:02:23

This statement is actually true. But genuinely intersectional feminism should be about the intersections between femaleness and skin colour, socioeconomic status etc.

Feminism that isn't intersectional is in my view likely to end up passing oppression on down the intersecting axes (e.g., relatively privileged women claiming that prostitution is 'empowering' when the majority of those being empowered by it are poor, trafficked etc; or high SES women being liberated from doing all the shitwork via the employment of low SES women)

I don't see where male people ought to come into it.

Flamingowings Tue 13-Feb-18 16:03:13

Feminism: (mass noun, OED def) The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

On this basis feminism is and always was (and should always be) the domain of the female biological sex and those that advocate the female biological sex. To me, this can include those of male sex, providing they advocate equality of the female sex.

Gender as a social construct is an entirely different concept to sex as a biological fact. Technically intersectional feminism is an oxymoron in the context in question, i.e. when gender is being discussed.

Feminism has nothing to do with gender at all.

Intersectional feminism is a valid concept with regard to race for example, or ability/disability.

A black woman and a white woman both share the biological sex of female. The intersection is race. A disabled woman and a non disabled woman both share the biological sex of female. The intersection in non-disabled/disabled.

A woman and a transwoman do not share the biological sex of female. There is no intersection when it comes to feminism.

A feminist can choose to include those of male biological sex in their feminism or not. If they do then:

A) feminism becomes an oxymoron
B) it is no longer feminism, because you are advocating the rights of all people, not just women. This is nearer humanism than any other term I can find.

I am an intersectional feminist. I am not disabled, black, elderly or of religion.I will fight for the rights any of these categories of women as hard as I will fight for myself. Because they are all biologically female.

A transwoman is not biologically female. I also advocate the rights of transwomen and men, the same way I would advocate the rights of women. But that has nothing to do with my being a feminist. That is a humanist attitude.

SweetGrapes Tue 13-Feb-18 16:04:53

Just googled intersectional racism and the only links (few) I saw were about intersectional feminism.

So it seems it's only people fighting misogyny are required to be intersectional. Doesn't make sense. The layers exist everywhere so if others are not obliged to look at layers, it means it's bullshit - and just another stick to beat women up with. The original idea may ne well meaning - the implementation in activism is not. That's my view.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 13-Feb-18 16:05:52

I'm just learning about some of the intersectional stuff but it always seem to be that radfems (who are usually the most gender critical feminists) are also the most intersectional as they are the ones who want to sweep away the whole patriarchy, rather than improving the lot of women within it.

Patriarchy as an economic 'thing' has always made lots of sense to me. Getting rid of the patriarchy would then solve some of the socio-economic pressures mentioned by pps.

My feminism can be about whatever the fuck I want it to be though, frankly.

GuardianLions Tue 13-Feb-18 16:13:41

That essay was an extremely misogynistic rabble rousing cry to blame, hate and silence women and feminists.

She is such a loose cannon in the piece - conflating throughout the huge structures of Patriarchy, colonialism, etc with feminism (er the non-intersectional 'bullshit' kind) to justify her extreme loathing of a single woman on a Slutwalk carrying an ill-advised John Lennon & Yoko Ono quote (that she doesn't seem to have heard about).

It really worked. Lots of people really got off on hating women and feminists as a result. Putting feminists into a double bind - "You shouldn't be fighting/talking about this issue (that is important to you), you should be fighting/talking about these women" then having been dutifully shamed, the feminists soul-search to be even more inclusive, then are told "YOU shouldn't be fighting/talking FOR them, you should move over and let them speak for themselves".
Very silencing.

Of course understanding how oppressions intersect is essential to making sure no women are marginalised, but that doesn't mean that any woman fighting what is important to her should be derided for not doing what someone else thinks is a more important feminist priority.

LittleLebowski Tue 13-Feb-18 16:14:38

"Intersectional Feminism" appears to have brought us to a position where women attending women's marches are told not to go on about the female reproductive system - 'cos you know, and calling someone with a penis 'a man' is officially hate speech/bigotry/o'phobia...so, no thanks.

diddlemethis Tue 13-Feb-18 16:17:16

Intersectional feminism seems to act as a circle of people telling the next to check their privilege, until they all decide it is better to be nice to everyone, especially their oppressors, and to go home without making too much fuss.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Tue 13-Feb-18 16:20:20

It's an important concept that needs to be reclaimed. They're trying to take 'woman' from us too, and 'feminism'. These words are our tools, we can't just hand them all over.

KanyeWesticle Tue 13-Feb-18 16:26:37

Opressions intersect, being aware of that is important. Individuals should have that awareness. Activism can be intersectional. Opression can be intersectional.

Feminism is concerned with sex-based oppression against females. Feminism isn't intersectional.

OuchBollocks Tue 13-Feb-18 16:31:29

I think, as a pp said, it is reasonable to stop and consider whether you are promoting the cause of women as a class, or just one particular class of women to the detriment of others. But IMO that is as far as intersectionality in feminism needs to go. The criticism of feminists for ignoring other oppressed characteristics appears to be aimed at silencing the women who have half a chance at making themselves heard on behalf of all women.

Flamingowings Tue 13-Feb-18 16:32:15

Tallulah
These words are our tools, we can't just hand them all over.

^ ^ This.

If they succeed in taking our words, they will set a precedent for taking any new ones we have to coin in the future as replacements.

SomeDyke Tue 13-Feb-18 16:49:28

"until they all decide it is better to be nice to everyone, especially their oppressors, and to go home without making too much fuss."
I was just watching the video from the Speakers Corner incident, and watching the women who were being threatened by the TRAs when they were actually on their side, and saying afterwards that the woman deserved to be hit...............

In this case, isn't even 'be nice to everyone', it's stand in front and shield us, take the flack from us when we mistake you for one of the bad women, and justify our actions to those women who would complain. And the shield us thing was supposed to be taken literally at the suggested TRA demo at the court on Thursday...............

Not quite sure how they argue that their brand of intersectional feminism goes about legitimately silencing an older black lesbian like Linda Bellos though.....................But I'm sure they will manage it!

Geronimoleapinglizards Tue 13-Feb-18 17:21:08

I think intersectional feminism seems to be about young women screaming at other women for not centring men enough. It can come across as being rather hostile really.

Absolutely we need to think more of woc, disabled women etc. But men? Nope.

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