I’m excited to be presenting a workshop on intersectional feminism this afternoon at the HER Summit (Health, Empowerment & Rights), organized by Population Connection around the #Fight4Her campaign. I met NH Organizer Amy McCall at the Trans Rally & Picnic and she has been working tirelessly on this summit — I’m so excited just to be there.
I also wanted to make my workshop notes available, in both printable and browseable form, so that folks who are interested can check out the links for further reading.
You can download the workshop notes here or read them below. I look forward to your comments and feedback!
Intersectional Feminism is for Everybody
Defining intersectional feminism
|Feminism is “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.”
— bell hooks
Feminism is not about reversing oppression — it’s about ending it. For everyone.
|“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
— Audre Lorde
Intersectional feminism is not framed from a straight, white, cisgendered, binary female perspective.
|Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality,” which she defined as “the theory of how different types of discrimination interact.” This has been applied to the feminist movement resulting in “intersectional feminism” — the type of feminism that hooks & Lorde were talking about, before we had this term for it.
Intersectional feminism recognizes that black women, queer women, trans women, differently-abled women, indigenous women, refugee women, women of color, poor women or women who have a variety of these and other identities, experience oppression or discrimination differently from women who do not share those same identities.
Why do we need intersectional feminism?
Acknowledging a wide variety of experiences of every unique individual and group of women is critical; unique experiences that differ based on race, class, sexuality, and gender identity and expression. There is no single female story.
|“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story… The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Single stories: the welfare queen, the angry Black woman, the femi-Nazi, the man-hater.
More reasons that we need intersectional feminism include: systemic racism and the rise of white supremacy; ageism in the workforce and culture; pressure for young boys to adhere to “masculine” ideals; patriarchal oppression of all genders; an increasingly binary and unnecessarily gendered capitalist market; pervasiveness of scarcity and competition.
History & Context
A brief history of the feminist movement
|“Waves” — The progression of feminist thought can be categorized into what are commonly referred to as the “waves” of feminism.
Those who came before us to lay groundwork for what we do today. We believe it’s critical to honor and elevate the stories of those who have gone before us.
|We organize to cultivate feminist community, advance equitable practices and
build sustainable alternatives to systemic oppression.
What we do:
- Lift each other up
- Learn from historical visionaries and leaders
- Challenge pervasive cultural messages
- Explore new ways of working and doing business
What we’ve done — a few examples from our first 8 months & 35 events
- Launch event: screening of Beyoncé’s Lemonade followed with a feminist theory discussion with local feminist scholars Dr. Aria Halliday and Dr. Courtney Marshall.
- Book clubs discussing modern feminist memoirs, feminist classics and fiction by women of color
- Thrown a networking party centered around feminist art with speed-networking via color-coded, values-based conversation prompts
- Hosted over 20 “Feminists, Waffles, Work” coworking sessions & workshops at Teatotaller
- Created & ran a “trade economy” booth at Portsmouth PRIDE
- Partnered with musicians, venues, film screenings, organizers and grassroots campaigns
What we’ve got coming up: feminist investing workshop, more coworking gatherings, art-making cozy parties, LGBTQIA+ clothing drive, feminist policy platform and business directory, growing our feminist library, Wikipedia edit-a-thon to add feminist history/herstory into our digital history books, etc. // Info & updates: feministoasis.com
The Importance of Language
A few examples of intersectional feminist terminology
Why it’s so important
It’s about calling everyone in, using inclusive language, and calling out hate speech.
- Inclusive language erases the dangerous narrative that there is a single story
- Inclusive language signals that everyone is supported and they matter
- As we call out hate speech more consistently, we can shift culture & change socially accepted norms
Beyond language into action
Using “feminist” or “feminism” should come with the acknowledgement that it is an ongoing commitment, not a title or badge of honor. Dismantling systemic oppression is uncomfortable work that we must commit to staying with.
|The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort. We can use it as a door out — blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true?” — Dr. Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility
Why we’re needed as activists and what we can do
Why we’re needed
- We still need to fight for intersectionality
- 53% of white women voted for Trump
- TERFs exist, white supremacy is rising, all genders need our support and inclusion, ageism and ableism are still rampant, Black people and trans people are being murdered
- We still live under a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy
What we can do // Your call to action
|Public sector — Policy & Politics
|Private sector — Business & Nonprofits
|Personal — Education, Alignment, Amplification & Activism
** ACTION — Conversation wall **
- ADD an action you commit to doing; TAKE an activist name you commit to learning more about.