Intersectional Feminism

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Post by Bomby » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:05 pm

[USER=30977]@CuccoLady[/USER]

While intersectional feminism is very important, it does bother me that there has become this expectation that all displays of feminism must be intersectional. As you mentioned, you as a white cisgender woman haven't experienced what non-white, non-cis women do. How are you supposed to truly address the specific experiences that they go through?

Perhaps this isn't the best equivalence, but it would be kind of like getting mad at a rally addressing the discrimination that Middle Eastern Americans face because they aren't specifically addressing homophobia against LGBTQ Middle Easterners within it.

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Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:57 pm

I REALLY HATE PRESENTS!, post: 1619933, member: 18119 wrote:How do you know if you're actually being oppressive and hurtful, or are we always wrong by default and must change our behavior even if it isn't negative?
Combining this one with the following because they're addressing the same thing:
Every time you talk about this situation you seem to frame it as if it is a forgone conclusion that the accused is genuinely guilty. Why is this?
There are a couple different ways to address these questions:

- I know I'm heavier on considering that the accused is genuinely guilty, for reasons I will get to briefly, but I want to emphasize again that what I'm trying to say is if your gut reaction is to say "no you're wrong", to consider responding with "why?" and listening to their reasons before making a judgement. It's really easy to as a gut reaction say "no I'm not racist" bc no one wants to be racist, that's a **** thing to be; but on the chance you ARE without realizing it being racist/sexist/whatever, isn't it a more productive conversation to ask why, listen to the accusation, and then decide whether or not to change your behavior? Along a similar vein, if someone tells you "saying/doing X makes me as a (group/identity) feel excluded," the next time you consider saying/doing X, isn't it a productive exercise to consider if that will make someone else also feel excluded, and consider changing that behavior? I'm not trying to say every single time you're accused of being oppressive in any way you should agree in all circumstances and change immediately, but I highly encourage listening to the criticism, thinking about whether or not what you said/did is valuable enough to offset the chance it might hurt people, and potentially change your behavior moving forward. I'm simply encouraging using criticisms as potential learning experiences rather than dismissing them as a reaction.

- As for why I seem to imply that the accused is genuinely guilty. This is obviously not always true, but it is true far more frequently than privileged groups often realize. The reason this conversation is so difficult to have is... well, for example. This comes up very often. Say a black woman says the police racially profiled her during a routine traffic stop. I have seen white people respond frequently with "it wasn't racial, the police are doing their jobs, I've been traffic stopped too and I'm white." This interaction is basically the black person saying "from my experiences, I know this act to be racially charged," versus the white person saying "from my experiences, I know this act to have nothing to do with race." These perspectives both make sense, however the white person doesn't usually realize that the reason the black person might assume it was racially charged is because she has been stopped multiple times in the past month when she was obeying traffic laws, whereas the white person has been stopped less frequently and usually when she was actually speeding/etc. If these specific backgrounds aren't actually discussed in the conversation, the white person will continue believing it's not racist. That's why it's important to ask "why?" instead of saying "you're wrong", because then the person has the opportunity to expand on the context in which race/sex/gender identity/literally whatever come into play affect their interpretation of the situation, and it's likely to be something a privileged person wouldn't have considered because they don't experience it. Again, I'm encouraging turning accusations into dialogues, and genuinely listening before deciding whether you were in the right or wrong. Especially listening to historically underprivileged voices, because they are disproportionately less elevated in our society.
By who?
Teachers who tell little girls that if little boys hit them or pull their hair "that means he likes you" are privileging the right to the girl's body to the boy at a young age. Parents who tell little girls playing in the dirt "you'll get your dress dirty, dear" when they wouldn't say that to their sons are discouraging them from pursuing active and/or non-feminine interests. Grown men who comment on teenage girls' bodies or say "you look prettier if you smile" are communicating to them that the first and only thing they notice or value about them is their appearance. Families who teach their daughters to cook but not their sons are already assigning and prepping them future domestic roles. Adults who tell little boys "don't cry, you're a man aren't you?" but tell little girls "oh honey, it's okay" are encouraging emotionality in women and discouraging it in men. I could probably spend forever on this point but I'm gonna move on, but basically, it's a socially-ingrained set of values that come out naturally when we don't actively try to fight against them. And we can. Years ago the socially-ingrained set of values was "women who show their ankles are being scandalous," which we perceive as stupid now. We've come a long way. But there are still values that differentiate unequally between men and women, and we should make conscious decisions to not support them.
What are traditionally feminine industries, why do they pay less, and why don't women work outside of them?
Before looking up statistics for this, I'll start with a personal anecdote addressing the second half of this question. I was originally a science major in college, and switched to music for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was that science courses were way more of a sausage fest whereas the music major was pretty fairly split between genders, and therefore the environment in the music major was way better. A dudebro making an offhand sexist comment in my science courses often went unchecked, whereas such a comment in a music class was almost immediately shut down. As someone who's tired of sexist ********, it was a much more welcoming environment for me to be surrounded by an environment that does not normalize sexism in any capacity. So from my own experience, I chose a more traditionally feminine path - one with more women and more diversity - because it was a much more welcoming space for me to inhabit. I was surrounded by allies rather than people I would either want to try and educate or actively ignore, which was much less exhausting.

I'll openly admit here that I made a claim based on research I was 99% sure I had seen before, but following up I'm not able to find it and I'm not willing to spend hours doing a good job of fact checking and backing up whether or not my claim is true. I'll drop that point, especially since now it is admittedly true that women are seeking higher education and jobs and we've made a lot of progress on this front.

I find it hard to believe that the majority of society discourages women to pursue mathematics. There would no logical reason to do so and I do question from where this notion even originates.
Honestly, like with the above point, I'm going to drop this one. I made a claim I'm by no means prepared to back up because I'm really not as educated in the causes and sources and nuances of gender inequality as I should be, and I admit I'm not willing to do that research right now (but plan to, because these are good questions I want to be able to answer). I'd like to focus back more on why I think it's essential to have intersectionality in feminism rather than focusing on feminism arguing points, as someone who isn't the most prepared to lay out these facts.
That seems more like someone being pedantic to me. Symbols are meant to stand for something and, as obscene as that is, it is meant to stand for "women." It's the idea that matters and it gets that across as intended, albeit perhaps not ideally for everyone. I guess it could be a rainbow penisgina wrapped in every flag but then the message is muddled, IMO.
See, I do understand this. And my first reaction was definitely "it's a response to Trump's rhetoric about grabbing by the *****, so obviously it's heavy on the genital imagery, and it's pink because pink is a feminine color; you're reaching." But after listening to a lot of different criticisms and opinions, I've changed my tune:

- first of all, yeah pink is a traditionally feminine color, but i thought we all agreed that's a stupid assignment and colors don't need gender
- people wearing costumes of giant pink vaginas also solidify the association with specifically white genitalia, which is basically saying "womanhood looks like this"
- it is a reaction to Trump's rhetoric, which is great. The problem is these images also associated with thousands of signs equating womanhood to a body with ovaries are telling every trans woman there "this march isn't about you." It's telling these women who are some of the most vulnerable, "this march isn't about you."

I guess, to me, after reading lots of posts by people who were offput by this symbol, the question for future marches is IMO "which is more meaningful: showing up with symbols of white vaginas as representative of women as a collective, or leaving that imagery at home and showing up with my own body alongside those of other diverse women without claiming mine or anyone else's is representative of womanhood?" Basically, did the march for women and femme people even need a symbol? Was it powerful to associate womanhood with the already traditionally claimed notion of womanhood, without challenging it whatsoever?
SKELETOR, post: 1619968, member: 35827 wrote:From what I have experienced from the feminist scene in the last five or six years, trying to pin a definitive ideology that all feminists share is difficult. A lot of people try to tell me what feminism is, and I always get a slew of different answers ranging from completely agreeable ideals to really questionable ones. I think that the feminist banner is simply too broad to reliably define the group by its ideals in even the vaguest ways.

I imagine "white feminism" still falls under feminism, just a different interpretation of it.
Of course this is true. My biggest frustration though is people pointing at bad feminists and being like "feminists are bad so I don't call myself a feminist." Like, of course some feminists are awful, but the movement is inherently about gender equality. White feminists certainly think of themselves as feminists, whereas intersectional feminists think they have way more work to do. But feminism, bottom line, is about gender equality. That's such an inherently good thing that calling oneself a feminist should never be seen as a negative.
My Potions Are Too Strong For You Traveller, post: 1619973, member: 25415 wrote:I am glad that the march happened, but I am also aware that it made visible and obvious the often generic and exclusive, marketable notion of femininity that I've seen peddled in targeted products for years. I often find that things which supposedly celebrate femininity are actually celebrating stereotypes.

Part of the issue is more to do with iconography, in that widely known stereotypes and associations are being called on as they are immediately identifiable, but also the (white, cis) majority clearly believes that they are the gatekeepers who determine what is womanhood.

I do think the exclusionary concepts and focus is almost entirely circumstantial to the cultural background, and that many people only think from their personal experience. As much as it would be a good thing to see more minority groups lifted up and given a voice, I'm not surprised in the least that the majority is otherwise oblivious.
Yeah, I totally get this, with you here. Like I said to IRHP, I'm not sure this march really needed a symbol, much less one that already reinforces traditionally accepted associations for "default womanhood." But women who already experience themselves as the default wouldn't realize what they're doing is harmful without discourse about it.
Bomby, post: 1619975, member: 17840 wrote:[USER=30977]@CuccoLady[/USER]

While intersectional feminism is very important, it does bother me that there has become this expectation that all displays of feminism must be intersectional. As you mentioned, you as a white cisgender woman haven't experienced what non-white, non-cis women do. How are you supposed to truly address the specific experiences that they go through?

Perhaps this isn't the best equivalence, but it would be kind of like getting mad at a rally addressing the discrimination that Middle Eastern Americans face because they aren't specifically addressing homophobia against LGBTQ Middle Easterners within it.
Here's my issue with what you've said. My point isn't that we need to Always Focus On Every Single Femme Person's Experience At All Times Forever or we're being Bad feminists; my point is that we need to a) respect the rights of non-cis non-white women to express their voice and perspective in this march and feel like a part of it without being secondary, and b) avoid centering specifically white and cis female bodies as normative for women. To use your own example, the march for Middle Eastern Americans doesn't need to b ABOUT LGBTQ Middle Easterners, but it should provide a space for LGBTQ Middle Easterner Americans to have a voice to talk about their specific experiences without feeling excluded or "other" in this space that is just as essential to them as to other Middle Eastern Americans.
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Post by Bomby » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:54 pm

[QUOTE="CuccoLady, post: 1619988, member: 30977"]Here's my issue with what you've said. My point isn't that we need to Always Focus On Every Single Femme Person's Experience At All Times Forever or we're being Bad feminists; my point is that we need to a) respect the rights of non-cis non-white women to express their voice and perspective in this march and feel like a part of it without being secondary, and b) avoid centering specifically white and cis female bodies as normative for women. To use your own example, the march for Middle Eastern Americans doesn't need to b ABOUT LGBTQ Middle Easterners, but it should provide a space for LGBTQ Middle Easterner Americans to have a voice to talk about their specific experiences without feeling excluded or "other" in this space that is just as essential to them as to other Middle Eastern Americans.[/QUOTE]
OK, I pretty much agree with you on this. I might have misinterpreted what you said a bit. I never got the idea that the Women's Marches were being exclusionary to non-white, non-cis women - partly because the Women's March in Madison did have speeches from Mexican American women and LGBT women speaking of their particular issues, but that obviously wasn't going to be the case everywhere. And if the protesters were specifically telling non-white, non-cis people not to voice their own experiences, that would be incredibly wrong.

Though the pink hats were specifically addressing "grab them by the *****" remark.

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Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Bomby, post: 1619995, member: 17840 wrote:OK, I pretty much agree with you on this. I might have misinterpreted what you said a bit. I never got the idea that the Women's Marches were being exclusionary to non-white, non-cis women - partly because the Women's March in Madison did have speeches from Mexican American women and LGBT women speaking of their particular issues, but that obviously wasn't going to be the case everywhere. And if the protesters were specifically telling non-white, non-cis people not to voice their own experiences, that would be incredibly wrong.
Agreed 100% that the organizers did a great job of this. I'm more referring to the people who attended the marches, who were overwhelmingly cis and white.

As for your last sentence. We are definitely in agreement here; the unfortunate thing is that there are actually numerous remarks of this happening, which is part of what sparked me to create this topic. Black women with Black Lives Matter signs and indigenous women with NoDAPL pamphlets were told by many white women participating that they were being divisive or that these "aren't the point" of the march. Basically telling them to leave their experiences that aren't just specifically about their womanhood at home. There are also TERFs, which is a term for radical feminists who claim trans women are men infiltrating feminist spaces. These are the kinds of so-called feminists I'm addressing, because their lack of intersectionality is actively silencing other, more underprivileged groups of women.
Though the pink hats were specifically addressing "grab them by the *****" remark.
I addressed this previously, and while I do understand that intention, after reading criticisms I think it's important to understand that it is still damaging when an entire march for and about women as a collective - women of extremely diverse bodies, most of whom are more underprivileged than cis white women - is represented by an allusion to specifically cis white female bodies. I do understand the intention. But I also think that, now that people have spoken that they felt silenced by the overwhelming cis white majority at the marches, we can do better to uplift and include the women and femme people who are already less visible.
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Post by Random User » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:11 pm

[QUOTE="CuccoLady, post: 1619988, member: 30977"]Of course this is true. My biggest frustration though is people pointing at bad feminists and being like "feminists are bad so I don't call myself a feminist." Like, of course some feminists are awful, but the movement is inherently about gender equality. White feminists certainly think of themselves as feminists, whereas intersectional feminists think they have way more work to do. But feminism, bottom line, is about gender equality. That's such an inherently good thing that calling oneself a feminist should never be seen as a negative.[/QUOTE]
Right, and I don't think the core concept of feminism itself is bad. I think it's inherently a good cause to work towards because I like equal opportunity. The only feminists I don't really like are ones that try and say that all women must do this or feel a certain way rather than promote individuality. They are far and few between, but since they're also the loudest of course people will point at them and decide they represent feminism as a whole.

I don't know how organized the protests were, but since feminism is such a disorganized group in general, it will be a long road to what you are proposing, which is a space for minorities to fit in (I hope I'm understanding this correctly). And that's depressing to me, especially when feminists should be sticking together to promote change rather than excluding.

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Post by Saria Dragon of the Rain Wilds » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:44 pm

My feelings on the subject are thusly:

I understand what's being said, and I acknowledge the experiences of the non-majority, and know that there were many spaces in the Women's March where the non-majority were PURPOSEFULLY excluded and highly disrespected.

However. As noted, the majority of the attendants were white cis women. Their portrayal of their body and their concerns with their biological control (contraceptives, family planning, abortion, other organ-specific medical rights) in light of the current US administration is their personal norm and is acceptable action within their identity. Was there a lot of imagery of pink genitals? Yes. Were they all wielded by women who possess those attributes? Yeah, probably. Did most of them mean to imply that theirs are the only ones, or the only important ones? No, that's unlikely, and those folks didn't do anything wrong by using what's familiar to them.

We really do run the risk of alienating allies by telling them that their chosen representation of their femininity is exclusionary or hurtful to others. Because for most of them, they were simply expressing how they identify with their gender and experience.

Certainly, some people were rude. Some were callous, dismissive, and pushed their agenda as the only worthwhile cause. But that can't be assumed the default reasoning behind loads of pink vaginas and ovaries.

It's one thing to elevate people of colour, differently bodied, and non-cis femme people. That's necessary and important and giving them spaces and respect is part of ensuring rights are protected for the most disadvantaged minorities. I think the focus needs to be on ADDITIVE support. Not subtractive. Not saying, "the portrayal of white cis womanhood was too much". I realise that it's a very normative expression and is often used to exclude or dismiss those who do not fit the "definition"/stereotype of femininity. But there's no way to separate the majority of the marchers being white cis women, and them choosing to display their white cis womanhood with iconography exclusive to them.

The answer to the non-majority saying, "we felt excluded/under-represented by this display," is not to turn around and stop using said imagery or discredit those who resonate with it, or make them feel bad in turn for it being their norm. The better response is to invite the non-majority into the already-heard privileged space, where they can speak for themselves, and know that their own personal portrayal is equally respected and supported by the white cis majority, so that they are cheered on and acknowledged. A white cis woman DOES have a higher investment in protesting the removal of her medical options regarding her vagina and uterus. That being a simple, true fact does not somehow automatically erase a transwoman's different reproductive and organ-based medical needs, or a Black woman's protest of police violence, or an Indigenous woman's fight against a deadly pipeline through her peoples' traditional land.

People can choose to be bigoted against the fights of the minorities. But white cis women having white cis iconography is not a default insult. We can't strip them of their identity and their bodies in the quest to illuminate intersectionality.
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Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:15 pm

^ I really like and appreciate those ideals. I really do. I think it should be every woman and femme person's absolute right to celebrate and defend her own femininity.

However, personally, it's my opinion that until the climate of marches like the Women's March would be just as accepting of a black trans woman wielding a giant brown dick as embracing her own femininity, as it was of white cis women wielding pink vaginas and ovaries; that now that this dialogue has started and minority women have spoken up about feeling excluded... in this climate where white and cis women's personal notion of femininity is already widely recognized, that I and other white cis women should do more to allow and elevate other feminine identities at the forefront of these movements alongside us, and try not to wash them out with our already privileged voices and numbers. I personally feel it's the duty of those who have been made aware of their relative privilege to step down a little and stand beside their sisters to make this movement feel truly united and powerful for all women.

I don't hold it against any person who chose to use this imagery to protest for ownership their own body. I do feel that now that other marginalized women have communicated they felt utterly secondary in the sea of already traditionally accepted feminine imagery, I and other cis white women owe it to these other women to at least consider toning down the focus on our already-relatively-elevated identities so other identities have more voice and platform to come forward, until we really are equal in this movement. To show up in equal and/or stronger numbers as this march, in adamant support, but without drowning out other women and femme persons.
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