What is intersectional feminism? It has been defined as “a movement recognizing that barriers to gender equality vary according to other aspects of a woman’s identity, including age, race, ethnicity, class, and religion, and striving to address a diverse spectrum of women’s issues.” The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, after studying a 1976 court case about five African American women who suited General Motors based on discrimination. The court ruled in the company’s favor because they hired African American individuals, and they hired women. The court failed the take into account that these two things did not exist in a vacuum, and essentially the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Moments of advancements in women’s rights over the last one hundred years were not the same for all women. In America, race, sex, education level, sexuality, and ethnicity are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when considering an individual’s rights. Feminism is not one size fits all, and it needs to be treated as such. How do we move forward? We need to acknowledge the many factors of women’s diversity, recognize privilege where it exists for specific individuals based on these factors, educate ourselves on the issues that women from all backgrounds are facing and strive for a more equitable future for everyone. Women’s rights and feminism over the next 100 years have to be more inclusive for the sake of our collective humanity.
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