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This Is What Makes Intersectional Feminism Important

intersectional feminism

Feminism aims to crush the patriarchy. (Charlotte Cooper/Flickr)

Why is feminism called feminism? Sure, it’d be easier to just say egalitarianism because it shares the same idea of feminism: equality for all people. There’d be less backlash towards using egalitarianism instead of feminism. But egalitarianism doesn’t directly address misogyny the way feminism does.

While it’d be much easier to say “humanism” or “egalitarianism,” it does little to help those who are underprivileged and underrepresented attain equality. Instead, it would further undermine those groups.

Feminism, in my opinion, is a good thing. I’m more than happy to identify as a feminist, but I am not one to defend feminism on every front. Feminism in all forms will always have flaws and this is what is extremely apparent with mainstream feminism.

Why isn't mainstream feminism enough?

Mainstream feminism is the feminism that gets talked about frequently. These are the feminist issues celebrities (like Emma Watson) talk about publicly and often. Not all women can relate to this type of feminism--and not all women want to relate to this kind of feminism. This is why we have intersectional feminism.

What is intersectional feminism?

By looking at how different factors intersect and how they can affect human experiences, intersectional feminism goes much deeper. Often times this intersection is of gender and race. But intersections can take a variety of forms such as age and gender, gender and sexuality, age and sexuality, etc ...

One of the big things feminism tries to tackle is the gender pay gap. (The gender pay gap is the difference between the amount men get paid versus the amount women get paid.)

Mainstream feminism makes you believe the gender pay gap between women and men isn’t affected by race. This isn't the case. Black women get paid less than white women and the same goes for Hispanic or Latina women, Native American women, and Native Hawaiian women. Intersectional feminism is important because it addresses the specific experiences of women who come from different races and cultural backgrounds.

Intersectional feminism can also be similar across different races. For example, the issue of colorism is something many women of color are faced with. Colorism is an issue that is rarely talked about in mainstream feminism.

In many cultures, colorism is the belief that darker skin is ugly. These cultures promote skin bleaching in order to achieve lighter skin which is believed to be more beautiful. In places like the Philippines, skin whitening soap is commonly found alongside regular soap.

How are people addressing colorism and intersectional feminism?

#UNFAIRANDLOVELY is a social media photo campaign addressing the issue of colorism the media fails to recognize or even talk about.

The idea of colorism stemming from my culture’s belief that dark skin is ugly affected the way I looked at myself when I was younger. I often got embarrassed when people made a comment about how dark my skin had gotten after a summer spent outdoors. It’s one of the reasons why I limited my time outdoors in the sun.

Mainstream feminism can’t address the issue of colorism because this is an issue white women don’t have to deal with first hand. And, in many places, white women are held as the ideal beauty standard.

This is the biggest issue with mainstream feminism: It often doesn’t address the different experiences of minority women and can completely ignore the struggles women of color went through to get the same rights as white women.

Women of color aren’t even fully there yet. Intersectional feminism deals with issues such as colorism and racism, but it doesn’t take away from different issues in which a majority of women can relate to. In my opinion, intersectional feminism makes feminism well rounded instead of being too generalized or specific to one culture or race.

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This Is What Makes Intersectional Feminism Important

Francyne Hari

Francyne Hari is a communications major at Dominican University of California. Her concentration is on multimedia journalism and broadcasting and she hopes to one day become a director. She’s involved with DU's College Debate Initiative, which follows the 2016 presidential campaign and seeks to get college students more politically engaged. She likes to watch YouTube videos and play video games and is part of a medieval combat society.

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