7 Famous Intersectional Feminists You Should Be Following

7 Famous Intersectional Feminists You Should Be Following

Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights.

Some "feminists" like to think that feminism begins with Betty Friedan and ends with Gloria Steinem. But that's nowhere near what modern feminism truly is and should be.

Betty Friedan is what modern feminists call a "white feminist." To be clear, white feminism does not mean all of its perpetrators are white. In simple terms, white feminism thrives off of the idea that all women have less privilege and power than men when in reality, white women have exponentially more privilege and power than both men and women of color. It doesn't realize the distinct experiences of a person's combined identities.

Like poet Rachel Wiley said, "white feminism is about as feminist as Dr. Pepper is a medical doctor."

Intersectional feminism, on the other hand, recognizes that separate identities of a singular person intersect in myriad ways to form unique everyday experiences based on how those identities are understood by others. This includes gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, physical and mental ability, nationality, socio-economic status and more.

If this still doesn't make sense, here's an explanation of intersectional feminism from the woman who introduced the concept to feminist theory in 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw:

"African-American women, like other women of color, like other socially marginalized people all over the world, were facing all kinds of dilemmas and challenges as a consequence of intersectionality, intersections of race and gender, of heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism; all of these social dynamics come together and create challenges that are sometimes quite unique."

Here are 7 famous intersectional feminists who really know what they're doing.

1. Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a Muslim Palestinian-American activist and former director of the Arab-American Association of New York. She's also one of the co-founders of the Women’s March, the largest political demonstration in United States history that saw almost 700 sister marches worldwide, along with Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland (all of whom you should be following, too). In 2016, the Obama Administration named Sarsour one of its Champions of Change, and she frequently speaks at colleges and universities across the country. Sarsour's entire life is educational activism, and her intersectional feminist mantra is crystal clear: “If you’re in a movement and you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement.”

Instagram | Twitter

2. Rowan Blanchard

Rowan Blanchard is a 16-year-old actor and activist who knows more about and has done more for intersectional feminism than most people could in a lifetime. Her social media accounts are consistently flooded with feminist messages that go far beyond gender justice. At only 13 years old, Blanchard wrote an essay on her Tumblr account defining white feminism and intersectional feminism, and why she advocates the latter. Because of her activism, Blanchard has been invited to speak at events like the 2017 Women's March LA and the 2015 UN Women U.S. National Committee. She continues to speak about her intersectional ideals every chance she gets.

Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr

3. Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams is an actor and comedian most widely known for her work as a senior correspondent for "The Daily Show." While Williams' career centers around political satire, she wastes no time drawing on her own experiences as a bisexual black woman in her activism. Her work has not come without backlash – at a luncheon celebrating women in film during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Jessica responded to Salma Hayek and Shirley MacLaine's accusations of black women self-victimizing in their activism with an explanation of intersectional feminism: “When I talk about feminism, sometimes I feel like being a black woman is cast aside. I always feel like I’m warring with my womanhood and wanting the world to be better, and with my blackness — which is the opposite of whiteness.” Currently, Williams works with Phoebe Robinson on the "2 Dope Queens" podcast and stand-up tour.

Instagram | Twitter

4. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a paramount intersectional feminist. At 15 years old, Yousafzai was the victim of an attempted assassination by the Taliban because of her support for girls' education in Pakistan, her home country. Now, at 20 years old, Malala is the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is the star of her own documentary, has published a New York Times bestselling autobiography, has opened a school for refugee girls in Syria, is enrolled at Oxford University, has addressed the United Nations and has chatted with the likes of President Barrack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated."
-Malala Yousafzai, United Nations 2013

Instagram | Twitter | Malala Fund

5. Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is an actor and activist best known for her role in "Orange Is The New Black." Her politics are incredibly personal, and her feminism is purely intersectional. Her work as an actor is her activism, and Cox uses her experiences as a black transgender woman to make that work as authentic as possible. Cox has noted that her character Sophia Burset on "Orange" is a "wonderful opportunity to talk about and highlight issues of trans women in prison." Cox is the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy award in acting and was named Glamour's 2014 Woman of the Year. This year at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit, Cox reminded us that it is "important that trans women are included in talks about women." Her activism doesn't end there, though. Cox regularly advocates for the enactment of public policies that will improve the lives of trans people, specifically trans women of color.

Instagram | Twitter

6. Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi is a 17-year-old actor and model best known for her role on "Black-ish." Shahidi surrounds herself with people who share her ideas, including Rowan Blanchard. Through her work Shahidi is able to act on her feminism, advocating and searching for roles that are representative of intersecting identities. "Black-ish," while it has its downfalls, frequently explores political and social issues, including police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Shahidi credits these discussions as important to expressing the "duality of raising black children in our modern climate." Planning to attend Harvard in 2018, Shahidi works with Always' #LikeAGirl campaign in her time off.

"When we talk about diversity on screen we're not just talking about color; we're talking about gender identity, fluidity, and sexual identity. We want to talk about identity in a deeply multifaceted way because our definition of diversity has, and must, continue to expand."
-Yara Shahidi for i-D

Instagram | Twitter

7. Amandla Stenberg

At 17 years old, Amandla Stenberg was named one of Elle's 2015 Feminists of the Year alongside Rowan Blanchard and Laverne Cox. Now 19, Stenberg is easily one of the most outspoken celeb feminists, utilizing her social media to spread messages of love, intersectional feminism and her own journey of loving her blackness. As a black bisexual actor, singer and activist best known for her roles in "The Hunger Games" and "Everything, Everything," Stenberg wastes no time finding roles that allow her to access and portray intersecting identities. She's received BET's Young, Gifted + Black Award through Black Girls Rock, has spoken with Gloria Steinem on the importance of intersectionality in feminist theory and lends her work ethic to the Art Hoe Collective.

Instagram | Twitter

Cover Image Credit: pasa / Flickr

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I'm A Democrat, and I Hear Too Little From Republicans

Since starting college in September, I have not come across a single vocal Republican.

I go to a liberal arts college. The definition of a liberal arts college according to Wikipedia is a college that “aims to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities.” When I read broad general knowledge, I believe this is talking about having a wide range of topics covered and viewpoints discussed. I have noticed that liberal colleges also focus on having diversity, whether that be in races, sexualities, genders, cultures, or opinions. That is all well and good in theory, but often it does not play out.

One specific voice that I barely ever hear from on my campus is Republicans. Obviously, if you’ve ever read an article of mine, you may have noticed that I am quite liberal. Initially, I loved the fact that everyone around me had the same viewpoints I had and thought the same way about everything. However, recently we had ROTC members visit one of my classes, and they talked about how the military can bring in a voice that is different from most of the other voices in the class. I am definitely not pro-war (and apparently neither are most soldiers, which was new to me), and was annoyed at first that they were even visiting (not that I don’t respect soldiers, because I do). However, while they were talking, I realized that having various voices in class and around campus is incredibly important for discussions.

Since starting college in September, I have not come across a single vocal Republican. I have never had my ideals about the world challenged or questioned. Growing up in an environment like that can actually become toxic. Without opposing opinions conflicting with yours, it never allows anyone to reach further into why they believe what they do. I never thoroughly think about why I am totally against X or totally for Y, and I think that having knowledge about other opinions is critical in understanding your own. Knowing all sides of an argument helps you find the opinion/argument that most aligns with your ideals. Having other voices could even educate you on a topic you thought you were super knowledgeable about, but you actually were fed the wrong information sometime in your life and you never thought to correct it or fact check.

Having ROTC members come to our class and speak to us about their various beliefs made me realize that I had always had this thing against anyone in uniform, but really I just don’t like the act of war. I realized that I still respect and appreciate the soldiers, and the people who fight for this country may even have some of the same views that I do.

Overall, although I may disagree with one political view or another, it is still important to understand and be knowledgeable about all views on a subject to better my own arguments and beliefs! This is definitely something I am going to work on from now on, and hopefully I will come across more diverse viewpoints as I go through college.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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America's Downward Spiral

Why we're suffering from the transgressions by all sides of the political spectrum.

Ever since I was a little boy, just playing with all my toy cars and drawing everything I could think of, I thought the United States of America was the best country on the globe to live in. I mean, we have everything from beautiful coastlines to vast mountains to picturesque meadows, so all the machinations within the nation should be equally hunky-dory, right? Wrong! And as a quick heads-up, if you're offended or triggered by my opinion, I understand and respect that because these are just my feelings on why America's where it is at this point in time.

Since Trump got elected to office back in November 2016, the state of affairs within the government has gone from one that our Founding Fathers are proud to a non-stop terrible episode of the Apprentice. While Paul Ryan did a good thing by leaving, his overall legacy will be a generally negative one, as far as America's concerned. for the Republicans. To make matters worse, James Comey, the same person who has been castigating Trump for being "mentally unfit", is directly responsible for him getting into the White House in the first place! If that's some screwed-up irony, then I don't know what's going on over in our nation's capital.

Truthfully, the way America's been going down the drain isn't solely the fault of Comey or Trump. As far as I'm concerned, I blame it on every side of the political spectrum. And no, I don't care who began what that one time or whatever, the bottom line is, America would have a much better reputation in the world if all of us didn't keep shooting ourselves in the foot.

I'm not shocked by the fact that everyone in politics will be prone to sniping each others' agendas, while unintentionally highlighting their flaws. When you add blind loyalty to the mix, it can turn solving problems within American society into a nightmare.

For the past several decades, the Republicans have tried to do anything possible regardless of American society's best interests, not helped by the fact that their actions are usually anchored by that "old white boys' club" mentality. Don't get me started on how they constantly say they're a champion for the working class, but in reality, they only line their pockets for a lot of stuff they don't even need to survive! The worst of it all is that they lied to us about the cause of a minimum of two wars, and for what? Total control on overseas countries they barely even studied in school and college!

While Democrats are a major influence on much of the progress America makes, they are NOT prone to any slip-ups that the people ended up suffering from. Much of the politicians on this side are campaigning with good intentions, but they're not striking with the intended tone. I agree that policy should come before personal agenda, something that the Blue side has been guilty of in recent years. In fact, all the identity politics, safe space and free speech conflicts on college campuses are mostly their faults, and taking those same concepts into the real world of politics only made it worse for me to support them more.

Independents don't play as much of a role in all this, but their biggest sin is not intervening to stop issues from getting as big as they are! Now, while I was a bit harsh in airing out my grievances regarding the drama surrounding society and politics, I am upset by the fact that we citizens are constantly suffering the consequences of political shenanigans.

As far as us, if we let this continue, the experts say that America will be in shambles by 2050; or worse, we could fall even harder than the Roman Empire. I know we don't deserve this happening to any of us, so, stop the downward spiral. Make a change.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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