Mainstream feminism cannot comprehend that racism and sexism are not experienced separately but simultaneously
Despite mainstream western feminism’s claims to embrace them, it is becoming apparent that the radical origins of terms like “identity politics”, “women of colour”, and, in particular, “intersectionality” – which were concerned not only with race but with overturning all forms of exploitation including class systems – are being betrayed and stripped of their interrogative nature.
As outlined by Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality is not so much something that someone “identifies” as, but a useful term that easily illustrates certain truths; namely that when multiple forms of oppressions meet, they create new, compound oppressions that are experienced acutely by those who belong to certain marginalised groups.
Unmoored from structural analysis, intersectional feminism is fast becoming a shallow buzzword that elevates the individual, stifles dissent, and, most worrying, is being weaponised to silence women of colour.
Representation and diversity, for instance, can be important indicators of social progress. In feminist discourse however, they are increasingly served as substitutes for such progress. The giddiness surrounding Hillary Clinton as almost First Female President™ and the silliness over Wonder Woman as First Female Superhero™ both fostered an atmosphere of hostility to any women who had the audacity not to feel “represented” by either.
You weren’t “With Her”? No, it’s not because you’re an Arab woman who balks at Clinton’s fondness for bombing the Middle East; you just have internalised misogyny. Think Wonder Woman was average and kinda sexist? Too bad; she empowers ALL women. And don’t even consider bringing up Gal Gadot’s pro-IDF sentiments, that makes you a “racist.”
For all its talk of intersectionality, mainstream feminism still cannot comprehend that racism and sexism are not experienced separately but simultaneously.