Riah is a university student who studies psychology and sociology. Due to research, she has strong beliefs about the dangers of prejudice.
Intersectionality: Educate Yourself
I think one of the biggest issues with people today is that often times they will fight for a cause that means something to them and neglect to realize that their unique experience with the issue may not be the same to someone else's experience with the issue. They may also neglect to realize that although the issue they are experiencing may fall under the same umbrella as someone else's, it does not mean it is of the same kind or severity.
It is no surprise to hear that women have been treated different from men for a very, very long time. Women are not only sexualized and objectified at the hands of men, they also face unequal pay, opportunity and often times consideration. It seems to me that lately the feminism movement has been making some headway as women all over the world raise their voices for equal rights and acceptance.
However, many people, including some of these women who are a part of these feminist movements, tend to focus solely on women whose main concerns focus on the patriarchy—and neglect to mention women who face the same patriarchal issues on top of other social injustices.
So what is intersectionality you may ask? And if you do, you would not be the first. It seems that many people are not even educated on the topic, but the truth is you need to be. Intersectionality is more prevalant than you have probably even considered, and one of the issues is that it does not gain as much attention as just what many people deem the standardized "feminism".
So here it is: Intersectionality is when interlocking systems impact the marginalized group. For example: A woman who faces not only sexism, but racism and/or homophobia etc.
What It Means
I have been aware of intersectionality, and how it differs from White Feminism, for a couple years now, but it was not until I watched a newly released interview with four female actresses that I realized how severe the issue really is. The interview (which I highly suggest you watch, and will be linked at the bottom), featured Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union, Gina Rodriguez and Emma Roberts. The four women discussed issues surrounding the topic and points on unequal opportunity for marginalized women, along with unequal pay.
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I would like to share some information on intersectional issues. Just from a quick Google search, I was enlightened by the differences in pay for men and women, and then women of colour. In 2017, Caucasian women got paid 77 percent of what men got paid, and African American women got paid 61 percent of a man's pay, whereas Hispanic women made even less, at 53 percent. Of course, these are only statistics on some marginalized women, and ethnic groups that were mentioned in the Interview.
Not only is pay unequal, so is opportunity. So is having a voice heard. Just as white women speak on not having equal opportunity,and equal chance to speak and actually be heard, women of colour face the same issues, and sometimes to a more serious extent. Of course, women of minority groups, that belong to religions, and identify with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, deal with issues of their own, on top of their gender discrimination.
Why White Feminism Doesn't Cut It
One aspect of feminism that I have always believed to be important, was the unity of women and the acceptance of diversity. White Feminism is not that. White Feminism supports only the women who face sexism, and do not even mention the women who face interconnected attacks on their identity daily.
To say that White Feminism is the wrong kind of Feminism, I know that people may misinterpret my position. I am by no means saying that Feminism, that fighting for women's rights is wrong. Women are deserving of equality and deserving of all things that men have had the rights to for so long. It is just that White Feminism, focuses soley on that idea, and neglects to realize that they are only supporting white women in the process. This is done so easily because people are not educated, and do not realize that say the equal pay a white women is fighting for, is not as far away as the equal pay a black woman is fighting for. A white women's experience with sexism is never to be discredited, but marginalized women need more recognition, and they are not getting it.
Ellen Pompeo said it best in the interview, when she said that it is our duty (as white individuals) to make these changes, because it is us who caused these issues. Of course, that goes way beyond just sexism, and touches on many other issues such as: racism, politics etc. However, she was right in the essence that in a society where white individuals have so much privilege, and have created a government system that , was made in favour of said white individuals, it is the job of these people to speak up and say something. Feminism is a struggle for all women. It is a world wide struggle, and it does not pertain to only one: race, sexual orientation, religion etc. However, some of these: races, sexual orientations, religions, and so on, are closer to the end goal than others. We all still have a ways to go before we reach our goal, but some are even further behind and focusing only on the struggle of one group of women, will not get us there.
Let's turn intersectionality into an in depth discussion that is addressed all over the world, and addressed with the same enthusiasm and same prevalancy as White Feminism. Let's raise each other up and raise our voices.
Intersectionality is real. What are you going to do about it?
Watch the Video Here:
- Ellen Pompeo Gina Rodriguez Gabrielle Union Emma Roberts for Women in Television 2018 - YouTube
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Riah Marie