"What does feminism, or sexism, mean in a vacuum?"
Another amazingly articulate, thoughtful, critical analysis of "feminism" by Jess Hoffmann... Here's a snippet, but please please go read the rest.
I see a lot of people who say they believe in "intersectionality" talk about it kind of like this: Since some women are people of color, and some women are poor, and some women are queer, it's important for feminism to take an intersectional approach that recognizes the way some women experience sexism and racism, or sexism and economic exploitation, or sexism and homophobia, or other such combinations. And then maybe they'll go a step further, and say something about how, for women of color, sexism and racism aren't just two separate forms of oppression experienced simultaneously, but are intertwined in really complicated ways. So, a lot of self-identified supporters of intersectionality will say, if feminism is going to be a movement by and for all women, it needs to look at how all forms of oppression, not just sexism, play out in different women's lives. And I think that's all true and good.
But I think a feminist politic of intersectionality goes deeper than that. To me, the really key thing about intersectionality is connecting the above analysis around individuals' lived experiences to the insight that all systems of power are interconnected. So it's not just that some individual people experience multiple forms of oppression, or even that all people have some kind of personal relationship with all systems of oppression (for instance, as a white woman, I experience sexism on the oppressed side, and white supremacy on the side of privilege), but also that the systems of power themselves—racism, economic hierarchy, sexism, heteronormativity, ableism, etc.—are working together.
Take, for instance, violence against women. While self-identified feminists earnestly question whether this or that is or should be or isn't really a feminist issue, I don't think anyone would really question that violence against women is properly, unequivocally, a feminist concern. I also don't know how we could even try to understand, let alone resist and transform, a culture of widespread violence against women without looking at a culture of general violence, a culture that uses violence to maintain hierarchies of all forms. How could we think about, let alone challenge and offer alternatives to, violence of any kind without looking at how violence (of all forms and against women specifically) is connected to militarism and colonialism, which are connected to the spread and global imposition of both white supremacy and neoliberal capitalism, which … I could go in a slew of different directions with this.
Which is why I believe we must simultaneously challenge all forms of unjust power to achieve any kind of liberation. Which is why I'd like to believe pro-capitalist feminism is an oxymoron.
Capitalism is a huge part of how/why the world has been colonized. Antiracist feminism must be anticolonial feminism must be a feminism that resists capitalism — not just because the effects of capitalism are damaging to individual women, but because capitalism, as a system of power, is connected to sexism, to racism, to …
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