• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Spotlight: Intersectional Feminism

ByRuweyda Ahmed

Mar 7, 2023
An image of a bright pink and yellow sign reading "intersectional feminism is the only feminism"

‘Intersectional feminism’ is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989: a brand of feminism which acknowledges different social identities such as class, race, gender, and ability in the experience of womanhood. These factors lead to varying degrees of oppression and privilege. Intersectional feminism emphasises the need to consider all experiences of women marginalised in other forms of society, especially the fact that there is no monolithic experience of womanhood. 

Intersectional feminist literature has had profound impacts on feminism and Women’s History Month, reforming the language to include all different types of women. It highlights the experience of women who have been historically excluded from the mainstream feminist narrative. This includes the experiences of Black women, LGBTQ+ women, disabled women, and working-class women. This literature has entirely changed the landscape of feminism. It has encouraged feminist discourse to be more aware of privilege, thus making it more inclusive.  

A significant contribution to intersectional feminist literature is the recognition of race and its effect on womanhood. bell hooks’ Ain’t I a woman and Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider explore the intersection of race, class and gender. Both works argue that previous feminist movements have excluded women of colour’s narratives from feminism and that their experiences cannot be seen as synonymous with White women. These books have broadened the scope of feminist discourse and have created a modern-day feminism that is inclusive of other identities. 

Intersectional feminist literature has also highlighted the experiences of LGBTQ+ women who have often been excluded from feminist narratives. Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues explore the intersection of gender and sexuality. Another incredible book about the experiences of disabled women is Caitlin Wood’s and Petra Kupper’s Criptiques. The authors challenge notions of normalcy, exploring how this affects romantic and sexual relationships, such as intimacy, sexual autonomy, and consent. It offers a refreshing perspective on disability issues.

Women’s liberation is necessary, and these few pieces of literature have created a new bar for feminism. There is a multifaceted nature to oppression that cannot be simplified. Assuming women have the same experiences does a disservice to women who experience other forms of oppression. Feminism must be broadened to liberate the many, not just a few.  

Image Credit: Intersectional feminism is the only feminism” by marcn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.