Feminism 101: Intersectionality

Feminism 101: Intersectionality

Looking in.
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Feminism, as the media portrays it, has typically only focused on the white, cis gender, able-bodied, upper class, heterosexual woman even though these are some of the most privileged groups of people. Popular feminism has allowed for the erasure of the groups of people who are most affected by discrimination. It is usually seen as a movement that has purely focused on Patriarchy, “the social order that privileges men and oppresses women”, which usually fails to mention how race, class, sexual orientation, gender expression and (dis)ability factors into it.

3rd wave and 4th wave feminism is working to change those stereotypes. Thanks to the incredible work of Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, the term Intersectionality has become part of some of the world's most important feminist vocabulary. Intersectionality is focused on the social structures of privilege, oppression and discrimination and how identity plays a major role in how people are affected by such measures. Crenshaw talks about identity politics and notes that identity is cross cutting. In Crenshaw’s approach, she explains that there is no way to talk about privilege and oppression without understanding how every aspect of a person’s identity plays a role. Intersectional feminists therefore see that a person “is not simply oppressed or privileged: they are simultaneously privileged and oppressed by different aspects of their identity.”

This approach to feminism is so important because gives us a way to describe the complex social order in which mainstream society functions. Intersectionality, for example, allows us to see that when Sandra Bland was killed in police custody, her gender was not the only factor that played a role in her death. It was the combination of her race, the darkness of her skin, gender, social stereotypes, and history of past police brutality that played a role in her death.

Our feminism must be Intersectional or it can’t be feminism at all. There is no way to talk about racism without talking about how it affects low income women; how class issues are so much different for cis people than trans people, especially if they are Black or Latina. Intersectionality brings typical (“white”) feminism past simply including minorities in discussion, but instead it reworks the entire system. Intersectionality fosters a feminism that is truly inclusive; one that recognizes differences, rather than glossing over and erasing the varying experiences of different people.

The main idea of Interesectionality is to put people out of their comfort zone, to get them talking about the issues that have been historically erased for hundreds of years. It forces us to look past our own experience and understand how oppression actually works. To be willing to critically think about aspects of humanity through a lens that is not your own. It teaches us to push against the erasing aspect of modern day feminism and turn towards inclusivity instead.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Real Problem With Homework And Exams Is Overuse And Misuse

Exams and homework can really be a chore for no real reason at all.
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I have no real problem with exams, studying and homework. Isn't it shocking?

Of course, my issues with it come in the form of overworking students and overall misuse, but not in the initial concept itself. After all, nothing is good in excess. Places such as South Korea, a well-developed and knowledgeable nation as a whole, are known for the stress culture that has impacted students and workers heavily, making South Korea one of the nations with the highest, if not the highest suicide rate in the world.

It affects us heavily in America too, especially those of us who think the best idea in the world is to take eight APs every semester.

(Hint: It's not possible.)

That isn't to say examinations and homework are not good things or good concepts on their own. Exams are one of the most objective methods for statistical measurements when controlled for outside variables of course. This is due to the fact that typically the wealthier you are the higher you'll score on exams like the SAT. There are many flaws when you consider the SAT outside of the vacuum, especially since many schools rely on it as a factor, but not the sole factor for admission. However, 1100 v. 1500 shows a real difference in college admissions whether you would like to admit it or not.

For teachers, who are already mistreated enough, some exams are used to determine whether or not their classes are successful. However, these exams cannot be viewed in a vacuum because I have talked to students who will straight up bomb state-mandated exams because they had no desire to take exams in the first place.

Some teachers are so stressed out by these exams that they begin to cheat on those state exams. In Atlanta, Georgia, 11 teachers were charged with racketeering and other similar charges for cheating on the state examinations which at this point were called the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests. These tests were administered to most elementary, middle, and high students each year. These tests would focus on the basic core subjects such as math and science. Then, the students are assessed and so are the teachers as a result, which lead to desperate measures.

In high school, exams reach an all-time high that I didn't even think was possible. AP exams, state exams, subject tests, ACT, SAT, math and reading inventories, finals and end of pathway tests. They all have their uses I suppose, but it all comes at the same time and some tests are completely redundant. Tests don't even really teach, and when there are so many exams in rapid succession, class time is taken away from classes and exams that actually matter.

For example, we have to take a state-mandated exam, which will take some of the students in my school away from their chemistry class, which they need for the AP exam, which could save them hundreds or thousands of dollars of dollars. One of these exams is more valuable than the other, in my and many other students' opinions.

As for homework, many of the same arguments stand. Except the immediate benefit of homework is apparent; there are many things that teachers may not have time for in class that they decide to find a method to teach away from the classroom. There is such a thing as useful, meaningful homework, and most of my teachers assign us that type of work. The problems arise with busy work, as always.

It takes up your time, effort and energy when the actual content is easy. There was only one class that had a large amount of busy work last semester, and I feel our teacher probably could have used better strategies then work that feels like it fell out of my head. A lot of the concepts were similar, and while her system was pretty good, there are still ways to condense the work she was giving us.

School work is good only in moderated amounts, much like anything else. Students have stress from many other things in life and there is a point where many things become worthless and unimportant to many of us. Exams, for example, are supposed to be used to judge teachers, but even us AP and honors students find state exams to be, frankly, a joke. The funniest part is that some people don't realize that the most important part of the test is the one where a teacher risks losing some sort of incentive when they are already so lacking in benefits in the first place.

SEE ALSO: The Pressure To Take More AP Classes Made Me Realize My Personal Needs Come First

Is there a solution? I honestly cannot see one in sight. Many exams such as the SAT and ACT have been relied on so heavily over a long period of time that it may be difficult to find other alternatives to those exams, but there are an increasing amount of test-optional schools who realize that a test score doesn't really mean that much.

As for homework, that's really up to educators and administrators to fix, as their student populous doesn't exactly agree with all their policies and decisions. There's a flipped classroom concept that some of my teachers have tried out, and it's taught me more information than I thought I would be able to keep. A flipped classroom is where you apply learning in the class and set the foundation through homework. Through this, I have learned how to study smarter and procrastinate less (note: less) than before, and I could not be more thankful.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Daniel Chekalov

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