Intersectionali… what?

Today, The Guardian reposted an article from Louise Mensch’s blog, entitled how about some reality-based feminism? In it, Mensch makes some very good points about the current propensity for feminists on Twitter to lose their point under a pile of buzzwords. I completely agree that feminism has become alienating to those who don’t understand words like ‘intersectionality’, ‘privilege’ and ‘cis’, and that it is putting off many people (of all genders) from identifying as feminist even when they agree with the general principles of the movement. However, Mensch then spirals off into a bit of a rant that all but said “political correctness gone mad”. Surely the problem is over-use of the words themselves? The things they describe are most certainly not imaginary and the people using them are often making extremely valid points.

Mensch’s reality-based feminism seems to be all about gaining power and using it to help others which is great, but not everyone is able to do that. You can still be a feminist even if there’s no way you’ll ever become a lawyer, MP, senator, company director or senior manager. We need those feminists too, of course, in order to help change the world and to be role models for young women who want to do the same. But we also need feminists who attend marches, write complaint letters, raise awareness of the injustices some women still face in society, and who simply call other people on their bullshit. I won’t tell Mensch to check her (rather obvious) privilege. Instead, I shall simply point out that the first rule of feminism club is… don’t be a dick*.

*If anyone can come up with a phrase like this that doesn’t use a slang word for genitals, do let me know. It would be much more feminist to have an alternative, don’t you agree?

Image via Mustafa Khayat‘s Flickr photostream.

UPDATE: I realised that this post doesn’t actually explain what intersectional feminism is! There’s a great post over on Everyday Feminism that’s well worth a read on the topic. The TL:DR version is “intersectionality is a framework that must be applied to all social justice work, a frame that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations.”

6 thoughts on “Intersectionali… what?

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  1. Great point made. I’ve had two conversations this week about identifying as a feminist, and it seems difficult for so many reasons, even for women who in all their actions are clearly feminists. And I agree, the buzzwords don’t help nearly as much as they’re supposed to.

  2. It’s a fascinating couurdnnm this. I am committed to reasonable feminist ideals and regard myself as much a feminist as a male can be. I am committed to equality and the sharing of respect and trust. I abhor violence against women and the all too pervaisive climate of fear in which many women need to lead their lives. Yet, the over-zealous femmes who want to right the wrongs by use of the same mental attitudes they rail against really harm the cause. I can certainly understand their anger and sympathise with their frustration but recognise that their approach is not going to solve this most fundamental and complex of issues.

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