To achieve absolute gender equality, we must recognise that feminism should not just protect or favour: one race, one sexual orientation, one socio-economic class or discriminate based on ability. We have to be a united front against all forms of inequality and discrimination, ensuring no one is left behind. Intersectional feminism is so vital to ensure we have this united front and as a result, achieve full equality in society.
The phrase being coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, describing intersectional feminism as ‘A prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other.’ As systems that were created to oppress people like racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, ableism etc are all interlinked, they cannot and should not be examined individually, as often their overlap can be ignored and the problems of a straight, white woman can unfairly take centre stage. This is at the expense of those who do not meet this failing criteria. When we focus all of our efforts on problems for a singular group, we continue the deliberate silencing of problems for marginalised communities. These communities face similar problems to these straight, white women and then face additional issues in society. Intersectional feminism is the theory that ensures one’s equality will not come at the expense of the continuation of others' inequality. This is why trans women, black women, asian women, disabled women, a variety of people need to be the faces of the feminist movement so the injustices they face can be actively combatted. As many forms of discrimination can work simultaneously on people, we must also simultaneously combat all forms of discrimination.
The affects of multiple forms of discrimination can be detrimental to a person, affecting their mental health, risking their physical health and putting them in a position in life where disgraceful treatment towards them is not only overlooked but allowed by society’s wilful ignorance. As minorities experience multiple forms of oppression and fight multiple oppressors, the feminist movement cannot be complicit in society's continuation of inequality in any form and we cannot find ourselves as an enemy of anyone who experiences oppression. The foundation of our movement is equality between the genders. We must put all members of our community in a position to receive true equality, receive equal opportunities and avail of the feminist movement. The task of rooting out all forms of inequality in society is extremely difficult but necessary. Once systematic and societal based inequalities are no longer tolerated, it can act as a catalyst for a new, progressive society. This progress in society is especially needed in our 6 counties, as our system rarely progresses alongside society. Often, our system gets stuck in a stagnant period, we must not only catch up to other countries, we must do better. We have proof that our system is failing our people and particularly our minorities. This is shown in only 18% of recorded racist hate crimes resulting in a prosecution, police warning or other outcome in 2016-2017, according to amnesty international UK. Additionally, we can clearly see the disregard and unjust treatment of our trans people, displayed in the disgraceful conditions of trans healthcare here. With the waiting list of The Brackenburn Clinic, our only gender identity clinic, mimicking our 6 counties progression and being stagnant since at least April 2018. We once again see the north fail to provide adequate concern for the health and well-being of our minorities. Yet another failure of our government is that currently we have no legislation against upskirting unlike Scotland, England and Wales. Upskirting is the action of taking a picture or video beneath a person’s clothes without consent. It is extremely worrying there is no exact legislation against this. Clearly, assuming the law will always protect you is not a wise action in our 6 counties. Our system must protect every member of society from predators and hate crime, along with correcting their failures in trans healthcare. This is where feminists must step in and fight against any unjust practices in our society.
The key part of intersectional feminism is that those with privilege need to realise, accept and address that they have an unfair advantage in society. It is not a singular person's fault that they have privilege, however the problem begins with that person when they refuse to accept they are in an unjustifiable position in life, an example being white privilege. The simple solution is that we must dedicate time to listen and support activists from marginalised communities, giving them a strong platform in the feminist movement to fight against the issues that further their inequality in society. These actions will provide for a unified stance against injustice, through intersectional feminism. Modern day feminism with an intersectional approach, although sometimes demonized in society, is so vital for any society's progression. We are very lucky to have such amazing feminists in our society. Despite receiving hate for their activism, they are never silent on issues that threaten the principles of equality. These activists manage to address all forms of injustice locally and internationally. This is a great example that has been set and provides a platform against injustice.
Intersectional feminism is a stance against inequality in all aspects, providing a chance to create a united society rather than our current, divided society. I believe that although many of us will not walk the same walk in life, it is fundamental that we stand in solidarity with one another, not united in experience but united in hope for a better future and united in the fight against injustice in society.
Ellie Jo Taylor is a 16 year old Youth Councillor and Foyle candidate for UK Youth Parliament.