Intersectionality is meant to be inclusive. Intersectionality in feminism means that feminist principles are not just for one kind of woman – they are for every person. Robby Soave, author of “Intersectionality 101,” offers a broad definition. In that piece, he wrote, “What began at the intersection of race and sex now includes economic class, gender identity (the gender category to which a person feels attachment, which may be different from the person’s biological sex), gender expression (the way a person looks and behaves), sexual orientation, immigration status, disability status, age, religious belief (though certain believers—such as Muslims—are perceived as more oppressed than others), and size (whether you are overweight or not).”
Intersectionality is important in feminism because it recognizes that there are many things people can be oppressed over, not just gender. Equality needs to be fighting for everybody, and fighting against oppression of all kinds. Intersectionality is thus related to ecofeminism. If ecofeminists are fighting against the oppression of the earth, and intersectionalist feminists are fighting against oppression of any kind, then they are easily on the same side.
In her piece “The Ecology of Feminist and the Feminism of Ecology,” Ynestra King writes, “Life on earth is an interconnected web, not a hierarchy.” This represents the blending of all forms of life on earth – not just nature, not just humans, but every living thing. King goes on to say, “A healthy, balanced ecosystem, including human and nonhuman inhabitants, must maintain diversity.” This is true for both intersectionalism and ecofeminism. All different forms of life (such as different races of humans, or different plants) have privilege and oppression throughout life.
The meshing of intersectionality and ecofeminism relate back to a topic we’ve talked about before – being vegan. If all living creatures are considered equal, and we are trying to not oppress any living thing in order to have equality all over the earth, then humans should definitely not be killing and eating animals. Greta Gaard writes about it in her piece “Eco-feminism on the Wing: Perspectives on Human Animal Relationships.” She writes, “feminists who politicize their care for animals see a specific linkage between sexism and speciesism, between the oppression of women and the oppression of animals.” If we are trying to not include living creatures in any form of opression, this trickles down to the earth and animals.
SOAVE, ROBBY. “Intersectionality 101.” Reason, vol. 51, no. 3, July 2019, p. 57. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=136518165&site=eds-live&scope=site.
This is an article written by a college law professor. It cites all of it’s sources and was published in a feminist magazine.
3 Replies to “Intersectionality”
In response to your second paragraph regarding gender and intersectionality, and I think this is important for many reasons. One part of gender that intersectionality could dismantle is that of the different kind of genders, because while one can say for sure they are “woman”, they might identify as another gender (true toward man as well). Like any other oppression, gender oppressions happen within itself. For instance, a lesbian of one race could discriminate against a lesbian of another race or; a rich lesbian discriminate on the bases of class; age, etc. Yet the only thing in common is their gender. I see this in race as well, where it is called “intra-racism” – discrimination within one group on the basis of other social structures.
I also like the way that intersectionality can put a name to the kinds of oppressions women face because we are vastly different creatures and these differences should be noted when addressing oppressions. Kings paper highlighted this fact in reference to ecofeminist and intersectionality. Kings addressed some of these issues when she talked about the “duality” in ecofeminism (woman/ nature), as she explained that humans think they are superior to nature. She differentiated by saying “ecofeminism explores the twin oppressions experienced by women and nature in an attempt to understand their shared destiny (Dobson 1995, 187). Inextricably linked to the merged destinies of women and nature is the idea that humanity itself is inseparable from nature as a whole and as such, the damage inflicted upon nature by humans invariably leads to harm being inflicted upon all of humankind and not just women (Kings, 71). Kings paper suggest that ecofeminists have a common duality which is woman/ nature but even that duality is interested by separate factors.
“Equality needs to be fighting for everybody, and fighting against oppression of all kinds. Intersectionality is thus related to ecofeminism. If ecofeminists are fighting against the oppression of the earth, and intersectionalist feminists are fighting against oppression of any kind, then they are easily on the same side”. This quote by you, Mandi, is succinct and profound. To argue for the end of all oppression of all forms, does indeed, include animals. And humans on every level, in every location, for every reason. I love it.
Do we believe this is possible? I do. Since Covid19 has errupted, factories have shut their doors for the duration. The air quality is cleaner, people are breathing easier, fewer animals are being slaughtered? I hope so. With less workforce out in society, pollution has gone down, thereby lowering our carbon percentages. There are ways to keep that amount down, if we act quickly and put in place new green technology to override polluting coal and oil.
I am an optimist. And although I’ve struggled existentially with this pandemic, I see how we as a planet can alter the course of our future. Can you imagine a world with clean water for everyone, clean air to breathe, fertile soil to plant for communities, walking neighborhoods where cars are used only occasionally? I can.
I always have imagined a world of cooperation instead of conflict. What we need are leaders who see this vision as well. Women, women of color, women from different backgrounds and nations who have different issues to be addressed and resolved. It’s most definitely an evolving landscape.
I just noticed I used the same image as you in my post! Great explanation of intersectionality. I asked another classmate if they were aware and invested in this principle before taking this class and I hope to hear from you too. I was completely ignorant! I think you made an excellent point when bringing up veganism. It makes sense that this issue is both a feminist one and an ecological concern. We are supposed to advocate for justice and equality for all. Where is the justice in taking life for sustenance when there are other means? I am not vegan but, I do find myself trying to make eco-conscious and cruelty-free choices in everything I use and purchase. I remember being a kid and learning about makeup testing on animals and being absolutely horrified. My mom told me there were companies that did not partake in this and sold cruelty-free products. I asked her, “then why doesn’t everyone sell cruelty-free?!”. She was saddened and just shook her head. If we believed in equality for all we would also support cruelty for none.