We’ve all heard the term “intersectional” right?
And I sure we’ve all, by now, encountered the “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit”declaration.
I’m also sure that I’m not the only person who’s noticed that its most enthusiastic adopters are pretty unsure of what it actually means.
Well, here’s my interpretation.
There are many different nationalities, classes, colours and religions of women out there.
Their oppressions are legion.
Therefore, if we draw a Venn diagram , we find that all of these “intersect” in two places, which then cross over each other …. “woman”
Because they all intersect, it then follows that all feminist should be aware of, and care equally about – each woman’s individual oppressions and where the then third intersection fits, namely the cause of said “patriarchy”.
This then, produces two classes of human being, the oppressor , and the oppressed.
Man, and woman.
Putting aside individual cases, no Caucasian woman will be as oppressed as any woman of colour, but all women will be oppressed by men, in the “meta”sense , ie patriarchy.
One woman might use her skills as a stripper or glamour model to raise herself from poverty but the existence of such workers surely only benefits men and is used to oppress women(in myriad ways both aesthetically and sexually)by the(ta-da)patriarchy.
It is recognising this that is the essence of intersectionality. And also the basis if Radical Feminism.
It is meta.
It does not get bogged down by hierarchies of oppression and it doesn’t spout silencing soundbites such as ” check your privilege”.
“Check my privilege”? Really. Well thanks.
I would imagine its damn nigh impossible to be aware of other’s oppressions without being acutely aware of our own privileges.
I’m aware that I’m a helluva lot more privileged than so many women.
I might not be in the first world definition of the 1%, but as a British woman, compared to an Afghan widow, I am.
However, I’m NOT going to be distracted by tactics such as “check your privilege” from the focus on oppression and its core.
A sex worker almost certainly has less privilege than myself. She also has less privilege than indeed herself, since, by servicing patriarchy she’s (unwittingly) being used as a tool of oppression against all women, and ergo, herself.
See, as a class analysis, feminism HAS to be meta.
And by recognising how all oppression intersects at one point, patriarchy, it goes without saying that Radical Feminism, being meta, is truly “intersectional”.
Any feminism which fails to recognise this, which gets bogged down in privilege checking and creating hierarchies of oppression, isn’t as “intersectional” as it claims.
But it could well be bullshit.