Blog  Let’s Really Talk About Feminism

Let’s Really Talk About Feminism

In honor of tomorrow’s Women’s March, check out what Anna Hirsh, NFTY Missouri Valley’s Social Justice Blogger, has to say about feminism:

I would absolutely, 100% consider myself a feminist.  Over the past few years, I have been both personally inspired and empowered by the feminist movement, watching slam poems and reading blazing opinion pieces by women who are done being taken advantage of, women who are done constantly watching over their shoulders, women who are (rightly) reveling in the downfalls of powerful men who couldn’t keep it in their pants.  I’ve started writing my own feminism poems.  I will never, ever be tired of watching President Obama explain how he is a feminist.  This is a movement that I feel utterly connected to, completely a part of.  So I could just talk about how everyone should be a feminist, the societal nuances that allow for such a rampant culture of sexism, the gradual but steady ground the feminist movement is gaining.  And, of course, all of that is important.  But that’s not what this essay is about.  

I’ve just started reading the book Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  It’s a collection of her essays not just about feminism and gender but also about race, privilege, and inequality.  And in reading it, I have begun to deeply question my definition of feminism.  What Roxane Gay points out is that feminism, with all its fantastic and empowering attributes, is still flawed because it caters mostly to white, hetereosexual females.  Mainstream feminism focuses primarily on the issues of sexism that pertain to women as a whole–sexual assault, sexual harassment, the frustrating phenomenon known as “mansplaining”–without much focus on the specific struggles confronted by women of color, trans women, and others in the LGBTQ+ community.  Take Saturday Night Live’s recent sketch about sexism, “Welcome to Hell,” as an example.  In the sketch, the women of SNL explain (in song form) all of the things that sexism has ruined for women (🎶parking, and walking, and ponytails, and Uber, and vans…🎶)–but the only mention of women of color in the whole video is when Leslie Jones interrupts to say, “You do know that it’s, like, a million times worse for a woman of color, right?”  

MTV’s YouTube video “WTF is Intersectional Feminism?” explains how when we are talking about issues of sexism, we also need to be talking about issues of racism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, disability, and so much more.   The video defines intersectionality as “a type of feminism that looks at how women of different backgrounds experience oppression.”  When we talk about equal pay, we need to not only talk about how women make 78 cents to the man’s dollar, but also how black women make 68 cents to the man’s dollar and Hispanic women make 54 cents to the man’s dollar.  There are more good examples of intersectional feminism in the video, so click on the link below to watch it!

At least in what I have seen, minorities aren’t adequately represented in the feminist movement. But maybe that’s part of the problem.  I, as a white, heterosexual female, have been perfectly satisfied and able to identify with what I see as the feminist movement–so I haven’t actively sought out those other stories, the representations of feminism by women of color and women in the LGBTQ+ community.  What we–as NFTY-ites, as world citizens, as people who care about making the world a better place–should do is learn all we can about the intersectionality of feminism and bring it into our conversation.  So go read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  Go watch Melissa Lozada-Oliva read her poem “The Women In My Family Are Bitches.”  And then let’s really talk about feminism.  

Check out:

“7 Things Feminists Of Color Want White Feminists to Know” by Gina M. Florio

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“The Women in My Family Are Bitches” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

“WTF is Intersectional Feminism?” MTV