Published on March 8th, 2017 | by Tina Phillips0
Our Feminism Will Be Intersectional, or It Will Be Bullshit
As we confront the Trump administration, it is finally time to unite across differences. Trump’s attacks have taken aim at various communities, many of which are marginalized and oppressed. Whether we are women, people of color, queer folks, Muslims, or immigrants, it has become clear that if we are going to effectively fight what we are up against, we need to realize that we have common interests and common destinies.
To realize a socialist feminist society, we have to be all-inclusive. This will include queer folks, trans folks, and non-binary folks. This will include people of color and immigrants. This will include people of all faiths and no faith at all. It will include bodies of every shape, color, and ability. If our feminism isn’t accessible to the poor, it’s not radical or revolutionary.
Importantly, we cannot exclude men from feminism. Recognizing that men, too, are impacted by patriarchy is key to understanding our common targets. Yes, men are responsible for much of the oppression, domination, trauma, and violence against women and others. Yes, patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny continue to grow. But without men, we cannot be successful in creating an egalitarian non-hierarchal society. Our common liberation is tied to a creating a socialist feminist society together.
Uniting all these diverse elements will be difficult, but it is necessary for our collective survival.
It will be hard for people from various perspectives and life experiences to work together. Some of us already notice how hard it has been, and it is about to intensify. But if we focus on our differences, we will fail to get along. Instead, we must tackle the divisions we face and also respect our differences as a society. Without this, we will be unable to move forward.
Different Walks of Life
Our movement has seen a big influx of new people from all walks of life.
There are folks who have historical trauma working side-by-side with people of privilege and historical power. There are cisgendered people working with transfolks and gender non-binary folks. There are people of color working alongside Euro-Americans, who carry with them a legacy of white supremacy, white privilege, and institutionalized racism. There are folks born abroad working with folks born in the U.S., who have been told their “birth right” makes them better than others. There are people with economic limits and barriers working with people who have more access and opportunities.
At some point, we will likely work with someone who has survived horrific violence and abuse, including sexual assault. We will meet people who have been harassed, shamed, and bullied, with no access to help. Our paths will cross with people who fear for their lives on a daily basis, as well as those who have lived lives of relative comfort and ease.
Some of us have mental illness and some of us don’t. Some of us have a disability and some don’t. Some people have just a few of these struggles, and others will have more than five or ten. Some will have none.
Regardless of where we’re coming from, we have to face some hard realities together.
We have to take a hard look at classism, racism, sexism, homo/bi/transphobia, heteropatriarchy, xenophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, and sizeism.
The first step is to recognize those things that exist within us. Let’s not deny their existence within our consciousness because every single one of us has been brainwashed and conditioned into those systems of belief.
So anyone in a dominant group must own that. And people in the most oppressed groups must recognize the impact of internalized oppression. Indeed, many of us are colonized on the inside. Until we realize that, we cannot start working to become free.
Thinking that these -isms exist only in other people and not within ourselves prohibits transformation. Too many people point fingers, falsely accusing others for oppression without taking any personal responsibility. They say others are racist and sexist but don’t recognize how we all have been socialized by oppressive belief systems. We all have some bias, whether we are aware of it or not.
It is easy to see these problems as abstract, or as somebody else’s problem. It is much harder — and much more uncomfortable — to realize it is within us, too. Once we do acknowledge this fact, though, we can do something about it. It is denial and cognitive dissonance that keep us from making any progress.