Back to Basics #1: What is Intersectional Feminism?

Image source: marcn, Creative Commons

Editor’s note: Hi, Roos! Welcome to the first installment of… drumroll please… Back to Basics!  In this blog segment, Women’s Center staff take on core feminist ideas, terminology, myths, and more! We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!

By: Adriana Miranda

We’re bringing it back to basics this week with: intersectional feminism! What is intersectional feminism you ask? Great question! So let’s say just for example: You’re a white woman. You work with a Latina or Black (or both) woman and a white man. For every dollar this white male coworker makes, you make 82 cents. Unfair, right? But look at your Latina/Black female coworker; she only makes 56-64 cents.  

So you’re thinking, “Wow this is clearly a gender issue! We women make less than men! But why does my other female coworker make even less than me?”

That’s because there are other factors to your coworker’s identity that already add to her oppression. Yes you’re both women, but she is Latina/Black. Taking these different identities and layers of oppression into consideration in our fight for gender equity is intersectional feminism. “Intersectional” means we recognize the issues of all marginalized female-bodied individuals, not just the cis white women.

“But Adriana, why can’t we just advocate for ALL women without highlighting differences? Why can’t we just come together as women?”

I’m so glad you asked! For women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. we can’t just separate from our identities. Even within women-centered and feminist spaces, non-white, disabled, and LGBT women may still face oppression among other women. It’s like, you can’t pick and choose what parts of you exist right? They all do!

We’re all whole complex beings, and fighting for gender equity means fighting for those with identities different to ours, and acknowledging their experiences unique to their identity. We should be intersectional in our feminism. 

Click here or here for more info!

Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Jasmine Ward

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel consisting of a diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00-7:30pm

Use the link below to register

The “Women Who Lead” panel discussion is this Thursday! Continuing our introduction of the panelists and all the amazing things they do, we would like you to meet our second panelist, Jasmine Ward! Jasmine is a third-year law student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, and a KC native studying education law, and criminal defense. She is currently a Rule 719 Legal Intern for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, president of the Black Law Students’ Association, and vice-president of the Board of Barristers. As with our previous blog on the topic, we asked Jasmine some questions about her community involvement and advice to future leaders, the following is that interview.

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

Very long story short, I always think about my ancestors and my elders (including those who are still alive), who were fighting for things they weren’t sure would ever be realized, and who were doing so in much more dangerous situations (not to downplay the true dangers Black women and men face today). If they could do what they did, then I feel we can do anything.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

I think having identities that intersect as mine do – being a Black woman – it makes you think about all the little things that mainstream media or politicians don’t consider, all the things that “fall through the cracks” per se. And thinking about those things as they relate to Black women has made me hyper-cognizant that issues and realities fall through the cracks for millions of people with intersectional identities – so I’m always striving to look between the lines when I consider a person or a community and their needs. More than that, I find ways to just ask communities about their “between the cracks” needs, because it’s preposterous to think I could know things about communities to which I don’t belong.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

First and foremost, don’t doubt yourself. If you’re in a room, you belong there, and you can stand with the best of them. And don’t take on a role, just be yourself – I don’t think anyone who is considered a “leader” thinks of themselves that way; you don’t have to assume some personality or way of being, who you are is already effective enough!

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

My main focus right now is graduating and passing the bar, but I am working with the Diverse Student Coalition and UMKC to try to make some necessary additions to our discrimination policies. Further, the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at UMKC Law is currently planning our Fall session of Street Law, a program where BLSA students, Black law professors, and Black attorneys teach diverse high school students, basic legal concepts. This year, we’ll be teaching those classes via Zoom, instead of in the law school, but we think high school students will still get the same learning experience and ability to see Black academic and professional success modeled.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

LinkedIn would be the best place!

Be sure to register to see Jasmine in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

About our staff: Zaquoya

                                                        By Zaquoya Rogers

Hey there! I’m Zaquoya Rogers, a sophomore interested in Health Administration with a minor in Black Studies. This is my third semester working at the UMKC Women’s Center, and it feels great to be back!

The UMKC Women’s Center has always been a safe space that allows for people of every background to come in and take part in our goal to educate about feminism. Working here in the past has helped me build awesome relationships with staff and students. Every day is an opportunity to learn and help others learn of our mission.

This semester, I am looking forward to reaching out to more students and sharing my knowledge about intersectional feminism. One by one, we can make the change!

The Grapevine talks Black Feminism

by Zaquoya Rogers

Many African Americans identify themselves as feminist, but what does that mean without intersectionality? Not only are black women fighting against sexism, but racism as well. Often the the two bleed into one another.  Feminism tends to leave out issues that are also affect women with different races, religions and sexualities. The Grapevine is a discussion panel that talks about various issues in the black community and I came across their two part discussion on Black Feminism. You can find the rest of their videos on YouTube, tackling topics like relationships, politics, and the Oscars.

Five Feminist Blogs You Should Be Following

By Thea Voutiritsas

Educating, entertaining, and empowering—these blogs focus on issues, news and gossip for girls and women across the board. From the blossoming feminist to bloggers themselves, blogs are a great way for women (and men) writers to share their unique ideas and perspectives. Here are five fresh blogs to help you get the reading ball rolling:

  • Everyday Feminism – The authors at Everyday Feminsim keep it truly intersectional. They tackle the everyday aggressions that people face due to gender, sexual orientation, race, class, size and other social differences.16821448686_435c60f8a4_o
  • Bitch MediaBitch Media is a fresh, feminist response to popular culture. If you’re over the media’s traditionally narrow view of what women and girls are and can be, Bitch Magazine might be the analytical, yet witty blog you need in your life.
  • Feminist Current – Canada’s leading feminist website provides a unique perspective on current events that are often under or misrepresented by other mass media sources. The site also has a number of podcasts available for those long commutes to and from the office.
  • Feministing Feministing has diverse writers that cover a broad range of intersectional feminist issues. They’re also a great intro to the feminist movement for young people, allowing emerging thinkers to be heard on an open-platform community.
  • Feminist FrequencyFeminist Frequency is a video webseries that provide a feminist take on pop culture’s representation of women. If you’re in the mood to deconstruct stereotypes both on the big screen and in the gaming world, they’ve got you covered.

bell hooks: Intersectional feminist

By Matiara Huff

bellhookbell hooks, her name is powerful enough. If you don’t know how she is, this post will serve as an introduction.

bell hooks or Gloria Jean Watkins was born September 25, 1952 and has basically been an intersectional feminist ever since. She is most well known for her feminist theory that recognizes that social classifications (e.g., race, gender, sexual identity, class, etc.) are interconnected, and that ignoring their intersection creates oppression towards women and change the experience of living as a woman in society. bell hook’s most famous book, Ain’t I a woman?: Black women and feminism addresses the effects of the intersection of racism and sexism on black women, and how the convergence of sexism and racism have contributed to black women having the lowest status in American society. hook has also written a long list of other feminist books including children’s books, chapters in other people’s books, and articles in peer reviewed journals.

Aint I a women? completely changed how the world perceived black women when it came out in 1981, and is still very relevant today. Without her work, black women would be far more oppressed. bell hook was one of the intersectional feminist who brought race (and other marginalized identities) into feminism; thus, making feminism more inclusive and applicable. bell hook has made such a huge impact on feminism as we know it today, and we will forever be grateful for her contributions.

Franchesca Ramsey: An Amazing Youtuber

By Matiara Huff

Franchesca RamseyFranchesca Ramsey (Chescaleigh on social media) is an amazing feminist Youtuber, and the host of MTV’s Decoded. Where she provides an intersectional feminist point of view on current events. She is also an actress, comedian, graphic designer, consultant, and natural hair guru. Her most famous video is called Shit White Girls say to Black Girls, which was and still is pretty accurate. She has made many other great videos that everyone should go check out!