Are we still doing this? Arguing about intersectional feminism.

Are we still doing this is an exploration of current mores through an intersectional lens. A
reflection of my own evolution. An attempt at unifying points of contact in a messy
landscape. Not above reproach. 


Unless you are choosing to remain innately tied to spaces that only center privileged
identities, you are aware that we are currently in the midst of a social and cultural
dialogue that is challenging. Which in short-form means folks of various marginalized
identities asking for more; representation, access, equality, positive life outcomes,
safety, justice, and respect. Historically and presently, such requests are met with denial,
dismissal, and misplaced claims of piety, as well as engagement and growth.

To look into a comment section or honest roundtable on intersectional feminism [link to
page] at this moment is to see something of a mess. And for good reason. People are
finding their voices, many for the first time with self-made platforms that didn’t exist until
this moment in history. The issues we are sorting are deeply intimate and rife with
violence and trauma. Many of us are also working to do healing work around our own
traumas and internalized oppression. Unlearning, relearning, reconsidering all require
doing identity work, as well. Often these matters are not just approached from a place of
“I would like to know more about this issue” but also, “who am I in relationship to this?”

For an onlooker, none of this is very inviting. However, not one single important civil
rights movement has ever been popular, inviting or welcomed by the masses. Many of
the civil rights leaders of the past who are now revered as visionaries and heroes were
in their time regarded criminals, troublemakers, considered enemies of the government
and had very low public support.

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The gift of Dr. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s concept of “intersectional feminism” is that
it creates a new language with which to explore and discuss how various aspects of our
identities impact our lives. At once. While demanding that white feminism (the centering
of cisgendered, white women’s struggles in activism) does not have any space in
liberation work, as oppression (like identity) is multifaceted and inseparable.


But to discredit the movement for lack of harmony is remiss. Every part of this work,
even the pieces that feel largely like an “argument,” is important and valuable. Much of
the language used to stigmatize the work is notably trenched in misogyny, as it is not
unnoticed, much of this labor is being done by women and nonbinary folks. Thus
unsurprisingly often deemed silly or overreactive regardless of tone, direction or
personal authority.



I’m actually not interested in, engaged with, supporting or offering respect to leadership
that isn’t working toward those shifts, however messy that process may be.
Great change rarely occurs in ease. Any organization or system not actively seeking
new language, representation and diversity of input (photos don’t count) is becoming
obsolete by the moment. We see you. But we are busy learning how to speak and think
and be with one another in a powerful way right now. The most loving and valuable
“argument” I’ve ever been honored to be a part of.

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So are we still arguing about intersectional feminism? Yes. My chair is pulled up to the
table, I’m compassionately critical of my own ignorance, addressing my own healing,
inspired by listening and cognizant not to speak too freely or out of turn. Which comes
with embarrassing missteps and constant reevaluation. But what may to some look like
“a big argument” is a push toward shifts in ourselves and in our culture that allows for
healthier communities overall, where folks feel comfortable and safe to live in their
bodies.


If you’re in for that future, I’m with you.

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Erin Brown

is an author, international speaker, and poet from Lawrence, Kansas. Her work focuses on women and autonomy. It includes themes of positive body image, eradicating rape culture, addressing white feminism, honoring the power of our voices, self-care over martyrdom, reproductive justice, intersectional thinking and inclusive leadership. With an activism history approaching two decades, the only thing she is sure of is how much more she has to learn.