My friend Kassy of Studio Slay wrote a brilliant piece on White Feminism. As a feminist, who is white, I’ve found this topic a difficult one to fully understand because of my privilege. Kassy really hits the nail on the head with this post. So please read and share, then head over to Studio Slay where you can find out more on intersectionality -the keystone of true feminism. Thanks so much Kassy!
Feminism is a simple concept fraught with many complicated obstacles. These obstacles have been in place since the beginning of mankind itself. In the fight for equality, for every new bit of ground we gain and for every bit of ground we wish to gain, we are told we don’t need feminism anymore. “Women are already equal to men so we don’t need feminism anymore!”
Conservative (and many times liberal) politicians and their blind followers would have you believe that they have already given us the moon and the stars! They treat feminists as if they are asking for the universe as well, when in reality we simply aren’t fooled by the crumbs they have “gifted” us.
We may never be done fighting for equality. Why? Because feminism is intersectional.
What is intersectional feminism?
I think the best way to help you understand what intersectionality is, is to show you what it is not. And what it is not, is white feminism.
What is white feminism?
When we say “white feminism” we mean, feminism that fails to properly or fairly represent the concerns and needs of women of color.
Feminism, for so long, has been represented by white women (think, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Lacy Green) that people of color get left behind and (yet again) underrepresented in the media.
It even came to a point in the 1980’s where feminists were exclusively white women, Mujeristas were Latinas, and Womanists were black women. All fighting for the rights of women of different colors and concerns, but all fighting a battle that could be made intersectional.
So how can we define intersectionality?
Intersectional feminism makes an active effort to include all women. It is anti-racism, anti-classism, anti-ableism, body-positive, inclusive of LGBTQ+ folks, and is a celebration of all forms of gender expression. 
When we consider how an issue affects all women, not just white or privileged women, we are being intersectional. When we focus on issues that only concern privileged women, we further marginalize women and all people of color. Often, women of privilege don’t even realize that they’re excluding other marginalized groups.
What do we mean by privilege?
In this instance, privilege is something that a white person, not born into a lower-class family grows up with. White people born into a family with some means, will experience different adversities than a person that was born as a person of color.
Women of different races, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses experience gender inequality differently. The plight of a middle-class, straight, white, American woman is not the same as that of an uneducated, gay, American woman of color. I myself am a straight, cis, Spanish/Mexican, woman that grew up in a lower middle-class household and I do not expect to relate directly to the experiences of a gay Indian woman. Additionally, black and Latina women are disproportionately poor compared to white women, and this further exemplifies why feminists of white heritage must acknowledge their potential inherent privileges.
Statistically, a person of color will face more, and harder obstacles than a person of privilege. Even if a person of color was born into a family with money, odds are that they will be discriminated against more than a white person. A black woman is more likely to experience discrimination or stereotyping in her daily life, than a white woman because racism is so deeply seeded in our culture and society. Racism does not just appear in the people she may meet, but in the laws she must follow, or even the water she drinks.
What are some other examples of privilege?
Privilege is being a stay-at-home mom and still having disposable income.
Privilege is not having to defend your right to marry.
Privilege is not having lawmakers ponder your reproductive rights.
Privilege is going on vacation.
Privilege is attending private school.
Privilege is showing affection to your partner in public without fear of ridicule.
Privilege is not having to second guess calling the police when you are in danger.
Privilege is being given time off for your religious holidays.
Privilege is having access to healthy food.
Privilege is not caring about whether or not the minimum wage is raised.
Privilege is being able to see a dentist on a regular basis.
I could go on! So check your privilege, even as a feminist, before you make assumptions, try to speak for others, don’t dismiss issues like Black Lives Matter. Checking your privilege is not a way to invalidate your experiences and hardships as a woman in general, but a way to make sure that the women who need the most help and attention are heard.
Now let’s ask ourselves once more: What is intersectional feminism? We now know that an intersectional feminist is a feminist that is considerate of others and acknowledges their place on the spectrum of privilege. An intersectional feminist also wants to uplift people of color, non-cis, and non-straight people. Finally, an intersectional feminist is someone that knows this to be true:
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde
Kassy is a strident feminist and co-creator of the social justice blog Studio Slay. She’s also a full-time tutor for various local public schools, in addition to being a U.S. Army spouse currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. Kassy@studioslay.com