Intersectionality and Inclusivity
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live in single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde
What is intersectionality?
intersectionality is a framework that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity (such as race, caste, gender) that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations.
Here is an example to understand intersectionality in context: Between 25% and 50% of women experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. But this aggregated number hides the ways that multiple oppressions compound such violence. Women of color are more likely to experience gender-based violence than White women and wealth privilege can help to insulate some women from some forms of violence. Bisexual women are far more likely to experience sexual violence than other women. Transgender people are also more likely to experience hate violence than cisgender people. In short, all women may be at risk for gendered violence, but some women are far more at risk.
How do I practice intersectionality in Conversations?
Those of us with identity privilege (example: white, straight, cis, able-bodied identities) can have a harder time including those who are oppressed in our feminism. That is why it is important to focus on creating inclusive, respectful spaces where the lived experiences of all women are valued and understood. Here are 5 quick pointers you can keep in mind to create intersectional and inclusive conversations.
- Self-reflect and recognize your privileges: Taking up the difficult work of investigating our own privilege is key to intersectional feminism. It is a good practice to look within ourselves and take upon the desire to learn about issues and identities that do not impact us personally. Being privileged doesn't necessarily imply that our existence oppresses another community. What it means is there are certain experiences we don't have to go through because of who we are.
- Decenter your perspective: It’s important to understand that feminism is about more than ending sexism — it’s also about ending all the interconnected systems of oppression that affect different women in different ways. There are things that our privileges allow us to take for granted - able bodied people don’t always notice ableism, and White people don’t always notice racism. So make an effort to avoid centering feminism around yourself or people of privilege.
- Listen to each other: On the feminist issues where we hold privilege, it's crucial to listen to the experiences of all women, including those women who don't to see the world through a more inclusive lens You can't walk the walk if you don’t know where the walk goes. So if you are a White feminist, be mindful that you are not talking over or for people of color.
- Think about the language you use: If you are a non-Muslim feminism, be wary of saying things like “It must feel hot outside in a veil”. Using terms such as #PussyPower can alienate transgender women who may not possess these body parts. These are two examples of the many ways in which the language we use can ostracize women. It is good practice to constantly check ourselves and how we talk about women who do not look like us, or who lead lives different from our own.
- Be willing to make mistakes and correct for them: Adopting an intersectional framework is not an easy process. So, sometimes despite our best efforts at being inclusive, we may slip up and get called out for our mistakes. Rather than becoming defensive, recognize that being called out is not really about your worth as a person, and that you can apologize and adjust your behavior to avoid repeating the same mistake.
- Recognize that everyone brings knowledge to the table: Recognizing that everyone brings knowledge to the table helps to lessen the distance between us and challenge the idea that some of us know more than others when really we all know some things more than others. Working together to learn from each other (as the activities in these modules are designed to achieve) helps everyone gain most from this experience.