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21st Century Feminism and Intersectionality

Questions to ponder, both while you read and while you struggle…

  • Provide a brief definition of ‘intersectional feminism’? What is ‘intersecting’ with what? And how does this affect both how we analyse women’s oppression in society and how we struggle against it?
  • How does intersectionality relate to debates on and critiques of identity politics?
  • Does intersectionality provide us with a way out of what has become a stale debate of ‘difference’ vs. ‘universalism’?
  • Provide some existing and/or historical examples of campaigns or struggles which have put intersectional feminism into practice. Now think about an existing feminist campaign which might change if you were to apply an intersectional approach to it.
  • Is intersectionality new? Can you find examples of it occurring in the historical feminism that you’ve looked at over this module (before the term was coined)?

Core Reading

Lola Olufemi, Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power (2020)

Kimberle Crenshaw, ‘Demarginalising the Intersection Between Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Anti-Discrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Anti-Racist Politics’, University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139-167 [Crenshaw is widely considered to be the first scholar to use the term ‘intersectional’ to describe an analytical framework within feminist theory, though of course this does not mean that some feminists were not practising ‘intersectional’ feminism before this. In particular, intersectionality is often traced back to the Combahee River Collective Statement (1977)]

Further Reading

A quick overview and introduction to some of the debates:

Flavia Dzodan, ‘My Feminism Will be Intersectional or it Will Be Bullshit’ [the person who first coined this famous slogan in 2011] http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/

feminist fightback, ‘Is Intersectionality Just Another Form of Identity Politics? Http://www.Feministfightback.org.uk/is-intersectionality-just-another-form-of-identity-politics/

 

Academic Theorising of Intersectionality:

Patricia Hill Collins, ‘It’s all in the family: Intersections of Gender, Race and Nation’, Hypatia, 13:3 (Summer 1998)

Jasbir K. Puar, ‘ “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory’, philoSOPHIA (2012) open access from http://www.jasbirpuar.com/publications/ [argues that ‘intersectionality’ ought to be replaced with the idea of ‘assemblage’.]

Patricia Hill Collins & Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality (Polity, 2016) [An important reflection on the rising popularity of intersectionality theory, critical of how it is often depoliticised within academia]

Contemporary feminist activism:

Research an existing feminist activist group and think about the degree to which they practice an intersectional form of feminism. I want you to try look for people engaged in activism and organising, rather than just social media posts.

Here’s some places to get started, but you can do your own research as well:

Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Nancy Fraser, Feminism for the 99%: a Manifesto (2019) [this is written by authors based in the United States, but has a global perspective and is published by a British publisher].

Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible (2019)

Reni Eddo-Lodge,'The Feminism Question', chapter 5 in Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race (2017)

Dawn Foster, Lean Out (2016)

Feminista Jones, Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From Tweets to the Streets (2019) [also by a North American author]

K. Banyard, The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Men and Women Today (2010)

N. Power, One Dimensional Woman (2009)

N. Walters, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (2010)

L. Penny, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (2011)

Katherine Redfern & Kristen Aune, Reclaiming the F-Word (2010)

The below groups are all active in the UK. They represented various different strands of feminism, so pay attention to the kind of political vision that they are advocating and campaigning for [You will find that their Twitter and Facebook pages are much more up-to-date than the websites].

https://womenstrike.org.uk/

www.londonfeministnetwork.org.uk

www.sistersuncut.org

https://www.fourthwave.co.uk/

https://www.objectnow.org/

https://londonirisharc.com/

www.feministfightback.org.uk