The Gatepost Editorial: Feminism needs intersectionality

This week, FSU hosted many great women – from Senator Elizabeth Warren to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

These women are living proof of how far society has come since 1920, when the suffragettes won women the right to vote. In 1960 The Food and Drug Administration approved birth control pills, a life-changing form of contraception for many women. In 1963 The Equal Pay Act was passed, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than a man for the same job. In the 1973 Roe V. Wade case, the Supreme Court established women’s’ right to safe abortions, and most recently, Hillary Clinton became the first major-party presidential candidate.

The United States has accomplished much in the fight against women’s inequality. And yet, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The feminist movement, previously known as the women’s rights movement, draws a lot of scrutiny from the public – some valid, and some absurd.

Many believe feminists hate men, and want to establish a matriarchal society where men would be regarded as inferior to women. Feminists have been called baby-killers, sluts and man-haters.

There is, however, something fundamentally wrong with the mainstream feminist movement, and it isn’t the fact that it’s pro-choice and body positive.

Mainstream feminism lacks intersectionality.

In order for feminism to be successful, the movement must be inclusive. Feminists need to recognize the struggles of women with intersecting identities, including gender, sexuality, race and class.

While all women are oppressed, white, cis middle-class women still have the privilege that their race, class and sexuality affords them, while queer women, women of color and/or low-income women do not.

The fight for equal pay and reproductive rights is important and necessary. However, there are many other issues women of color face that are often sidelined.

Feminists should also be fighting for a higher minimum wage. 

According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are nearly two-thirds of the minimum wage workforce, while women of color make up 23 percent of minimum-wage workers.

Increasing the minimum wage would mean a raise for 36 percent of Black women and 43 percent of Hispanic women.

Feminists should also be fighting for queer rights, specifically for trans-women. At least seven trans-women of color have been murdered since the start of 2017. And yet, there has been little outrage about these deaths from the many feminist organizations.

No matter how much progress feminists make, the genders will never be equal until trans-women are as safe and accepted as their cis counterparts.

Additionally, feminists have to fight for freedom of religion. As the United States becomes increasingly Islamophobic, it is more important than ever for women to stand by their Muslim sisters.

According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Muslim women bear the brunt of the discrimination against their religion. They are more fearful for their personal safety then Muslim men, and suffer more emotional trauma.

There are many issues surrounding race, class and sexuality that mainstream feminism has either ignored or neglected in favor of white, middle-class issues.

While the definition of feminism has always been the advocacy of equality between the sexes, this view of equality has remained pretty narrow.

If feminists truly wish for equality, they will fight for the equality of all – not just the privileged.

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