Intersectionality and feminism

When I wrote about whether or not I class myself as a feminist, a blogger commented saying that feminism needed intersectionality or it wasn’t feminism at all. I agree with this commenter’s sentiment.

I vaguely knew what intersectionality was, but I wasn’t 100% sure. For those who, like me, aren’t fully in the know about intersectionality,  The Telegraph UK puts it:

Intersectionality is a term that was coined by American professor Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. The concept already existed but she put a name to it. The textbook definition states:

“The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees or intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class ability and ethnicity”. 

In other words, certain groups of women have multilayered facets in life that they have to deal with. There is no one – size – fits – all type of feminism. For example, I [the columnist] am a black woman and as a result I face both racism and sexism as I navigate around everyday life.

Even though the concept of intersectionality in feminism has been around for decades, it only seems to have made it into mainstream debate in the past year or so. And yet, still so many people are confused by what it means or what it stands for.

There’s more to the article, but you get the idea. Reading through the article and thinking about the recent comment on my last post here, I’ve come to the conclusion that people who call themselves “feminists” – and feminist publications – need to be more inclusive on all fronts. Like I’ve said before, struggles from women of colour, such as domestic violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been talked about, but I fear only as an afterthought and very, very rarely.

 

The triviality of modern – day Western “feminism” is making Millennials run away from the issue. Like I wrote about at the time, former Indigenous Adviser to Tony Abbott, Warren Mundine condemned Australian feminists to being largely silent on the violence epidemic in ATSI communities. Columnist for the “Herald Sun, Rita Panahi has condemned Australian feminists for being trivial and largely ignoring the suffering of women under Islamic State rule in Iraq and Syria.

If feminism is all about intersectionality and caring for the rights of ALL women, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, class, etc, then, I’ve got to ask, does Australia in particular and maybe the West as a whole, have a feminist movement at all? Can what we have in the west be classed as “feminism”? There does seem to be a lot of whitewashing of so – called “feminism” for sure, with sporadic voices from people of colour sprinkled in. Surely we can do better than that! I stand by my last post, there has been good work and advocacy done by self – described feminists. But there is definitely room for improvement. And, there does need to be more voices – like the columnist at Daily Mail UK that I linked above – from women of colour talking about their own experiences or both racism and sexism and feminists working together to stamp that out.

 

I know I keep referring to the same sources and the same names. Maybe I’m missing something. Do you know of any feminists who do intersectionality and including women of colour really well and often or is the lack of intersectionality a problem across the board? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Enough of mocking Malania Trump

Now that Donald Trump will be the President of the US, apparently, his wife, Malania is fair game.

 

Look, I can understand why people are concerned about Trump. I wrote about this in my post about the #safetypin campaign. But isn’t this racist and sexist? If anyone mocked Hillary like that, or Michelle Obama, there’d be outrage. But because she’s going to be First Lady with Donald Trump as President, it’s OK? I get why Andrew Bolt says “with the Left, it’s not the principle, but the side. If it was any other woman, the chance of this being tolerated would be nil.

 

It makes me think, when it comes to the treatment of women, whether it’s violence, mocking, teasing, etc, I can really see why people treat the Third Wave of Feminism as a complete joke – an unfunny one at that. On one hand, even the slightest offensive thing that’s said about… say Julia Gillard is condemned outright. Now, I argue that some of the treatment she received while she was Prime Minister in 2011 – 2012 –  like broadcaster Alan Jones saying that Gillard’s father “died of shame” only days after he died was appalling. He later apologised. Some of the things Trump said, especially on the tape about women was disgusting. Most people rightly condemned these comments. They were insensitive (on Jones’ part) and downright appalling on President – elect Trump’s part. Yet, there is nothing that I can see on Mamamia or Ravishly – site that’s usually good talking about not just women’s issues but racial diversity as well. Still, nothing. Now I get what Andrew Bolt means when he says: “with so many on the Left, it’s not the principle, but the side”.

 

Women like Mia Freedman try to argue about how important feminism and gender equality is. Well, how about start by treating all women as if they matter? How about condemning all sexism and racism, not just for a few? Otherwise millennials will keep running away from feminism and we’ll just be continued to be painted as nothing more than hypocrites.

Maybe I’m missing something. Have you seen any article, video, etc from a woman’s site condemning the mockery of Melania Trump? If you have, feel free to post the link in the comments section.

 

Harrassment a ‘hate crime’? Is this a good thing?

According to feminist site, Ravishly, police in Nottingham, England are pushing to make street harassment into a hate crime. Sounds good, right? Sexual harassment should be condemned, both socially and legally. But what is sexual harassment? I ask this question because if it’s to be deemed a “hate crime”, then we’ve got to know what’s being outlawed. According to Australian Human Rights Commission, sexual harassment is defined as:

…any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

(Sounds similar to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. I’ll leave that for another blog post on another day).

According to BBC News, the Nottingham Police defines “misogynistic hate crime” as:

incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by a man simply because they are a woman.

The Nottingham Police are even encouraging women to report what they deem to be misogynistic, even if they aren’t technically illegal so they can get support.

 

I applaud the Nottingham Police for making such a strong stand, I really do. Discrimination and harassment should be condemned, as I’ve said. My problem with all this, like 18C under the Racial Discrimination Act here, is that it can be open up to interpretation. I think it’s fair to say that any unwanted touching should be avoided at all times. Intimate touching should definitely avoided, unless it’s in the right place and it’s consented to. Beyond those obvious examples, I feel that other areas may not be so clear cut. What one woman finds, “offensive” and “misogynistic” may not be deemed “offensive” or “misogynistic” to another. Is banter deemed sexual harassment? A man calling a woman a (at least what he sees) as an affectionate term deemed sexual harassment or misogyny?

 

Basically, I wonder whether such a law can be used against someone who didn’t mean any harm and cause collateral damage like the Queensland University of Technology case did to the students and their futures. (I think that whole case was just a mess. Another post for another time on one of my other blogs – maybe). Will such a law, with good intentions, be used to destroy the reputations and futures of people who really don’t deserve it? Will factors like race, age or socioeconomic status be considered if the laws are modified to make all sexual harassment deemed a hate crime? Will men who can afford top lawyers, etc be able to get away with it anyway?

While I’ve been a big fan of anti – discrimination laws since I was in Year Nine, I can see how they can be used and abused, and it’s not always easy for victims to get justice. Also, I think, in fact, sometimes the laws themselves can be used unjustly and cause irreparable damage, both to the alleged “victim” and “perpetrator”. At the very least, terms like “misogyny”, and “offend” should be clearly defined as to protect unsuspecting people of unwarranted accusations of sexism, misogyny or people who are accused of other forms of discrimination.

Kudos To The Daily Telegraph

I was watching Q and A on Monday night, while tweeting. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph’s columnist Joe Hilderbrand wrote a tweet:

I got to admit, at first, I thought he was pulling people’s leg (he sometimes gets in trouble for his humour on “Studio 10), but, with a little bit of research, I found out, it’s actually true! There are heaps of female columnists that work for the Daily Telegraph! These include, Miranda Devine (of course), Sarrah Le Marquand and Annette Sharp. They’re “Opinion” columnists. They are in the same position as such personalities such as Andrew Bolt, Andrew Clennell and Simon Benson.

I wrote a post a few months ago about whether women were being discriminated against in the journalism industry, especially women over 40. Honestly, finding this out on Monday night was a pleasant surprise.

It’s great to see the biggest papers in the country. from the Murdoch Press (Newscorp) giving women a go, particularly in the editorial/ opinion roles. I get people don’t always agree with the likes of Miranda Devine… I don’t. But her voice is out there, as well as the other women I’ve mentioned, and, to me, that’s got to stand for something, doesn’t it?

Also, their not all 20 something’s either. At least two I know are over 40. OK, yes, they may have started when they were in their early 20’s, but the fact is, they’re still there! That’s a contrast to the “Channel Ten” controversy over the sacking of a female news reporter a few years ago which sparked accusations of sexism and ageism in the media (I wrote to also the controversy over Melissa Doyle leaving “Sunrise”. Fortunately for them they curbed a complete backlash by putting her on the 4.30 timeslot to replace John Mangos (well, he was the one I usually saw on there).

 

Does that mean that there is no sexism in the media industry in Australia? No. But I think it’s good to see that one of Australia’s major newspapers do value women’s contribution to news media. I think it should be applauded.