Intersectional Feminism is desperately needed within today's current feminist movement. We have to realize that not every woman is white, middle class, able-bodied, and cisgendered. We also need to realize that feminism is not the same for everyone due to the different challenges that women have to face within their lives. These challenges include but are not only limited to sexual orientation and gender expression, sizeism, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, disabilities and chronic illness, mental illness and transphobia. Anything within a woman's life that is oppressive can be included within the list of challenges above. It is important to be mindful of the forces of oppression that various groups face and to also realize that many of these challenges will go unaddressed without intersectionality. It is also important to note that the phrase intersectionality was originally created within black feminism to express how sexism, racism, and class oppression are all connected together and cannot be separated. Intersectionality has played a tremendous role within black feminism and was first coined by Critical Race Theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. The idea of intersectionality has since greatly expanded, as discussed within this article.
We need intersectional feminism to be able to understand that women of different backgrounds do not experience the same thing and that strictly white feminism is only one view of feminism. We need to include various groups of women with different experiences and respect their voices. A historical example of why we need to do this is the ratification of the 19th Amendment, that allowed women to vote. However, only white, upper-class women had actually gained the right to vote. A huge population of women who had voices to be heard were left out.
I find it interesting that my high school history classes only focused on white feminism and white women's fight for suffrage, whereas my experiences in college history classes have included intersectionality and the stories of oppressed groups with struggles that they fought to overcome. I think it's important to emphasize this type of feminism because there were so many more women in history that had an influence. My experiences with this history influenced my decision to declare a history minor. That's how strongly this engaged me.
Intersectionality is really a simple concept that I personally wholeheartedly stand with and support as a gender studies major and as my own opinionated person. I am not ashamed to say that my feminism is intersectional by realizing that we all have different stories, voices, and experiences. We are not all built the same and we all face different forces of oppression within our time on this planet. Intersectionality, in general, needs to be applied to all social justice work. We need to celebrate diversity and learn from the experiences of others around us, in order to not oppress them as they have been oppressed by others within the past. We have to allow ourselves to step back and let everyone's voices be heard, helping us toward the goal of gender equality, by challenging the forces of inequality.