Feminism and Intersectionality
Feminism and Intersectionality
"Highlights the fact that women of color are situated within
at least two subordinated groups
that frequently pursue conflicting political agendas" (Crenshaw, 1991)
Anti-racism and feminism often limited to experiences of men of color and white women
"The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color" (Crenshaw, 1991) - same for antiracism
Debate about political costs of exposing gender violence within the Black community
"Racism is linked to patriarchy to the extent that racism denies men of color the power and privilege that dominant men enjoy" (Crenshaw, 1991)
Racism and Rape:
that holds certain female bodies in higher regard than others (NY Jogger case)
Problem: Intersection between gender expectations for women and sexualized notions of race
Describes the social location of black women in domestic work pre-WWII
Black Women could see "White elites [...] from perspectives largely obscured from Black men and from these groups themselves" and formed strong ties with white families (insider relationship)
BUT: "They were economically exploited workers and would thus remain outsiders"
Unique social position --> More nuanced outlook to feminist and social thought
Black-women remained "outsiders-within" for both feminist thought and Black social and political thought -->
"Individuals whose marginality provided a distinctive angle of vision"
The Meaning of "Womanhood" for Black Women
Sojourner Truth, mid-1800s: Discusses the meaning of the term "woman" for Black women
"That man over there says women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place! And
ain't I a woman?
"(Loewenberg and Bogin, 1976)
Truth exposes the concept of woman as being culturally constructed by using the contradictions between her life as an African-American woman and the qualities ascribed to women
Doesn't accept existing assumptions about what a woman is or try to prove that she fits the standards --> Challenges the standards themselves
Process of Deconstruction: Exposing a concept as ideological or culturally constructed rather than as natural or a simple reflection of reality (Collins, 1998)
Suppression of Black Feminist Thought
Suppressing the knowledge produced by oppressed group makes it easier for dominant groups to rule because the seeming absence of dissent suggests that subordinate groups willingly collaborate in their own victimisation (Scott 1985)
Tension between the suppression of African-American women's ideas and their intellectual activism in the face of that suppression
Larger system of oppression (education, public image etc) --> Suppression of ideas of Black women
Different patterns of Suppression
Many Feminist theories rely heavily on White, middle-class samples --> Promote notion of generic woman who is white and middle class --> "
One pattern of suppression is that of omission
White Feminists acknowledging need for diversity, but not including women of color in their work due to claims of not being qualified enough
Incorporating, changing and thereby depoliticising Black feminist ideas
Black Women as Intellectuals
"Not all Black women intellectuals are educated"
Collins: Truth's contributions show that the "concept of intellectual must itself be deconstructed"
Dilemma for Black Women academics: Acquiring prestige often requires acceptance of academic norms - BUT: many of these norms are wedded to notions of Black and female inferiority
Developing Black Feminist thought as critical social theory involves including the ideas of Black women not previously considered intellectuals
"The ways in which the
location of women of color at the intersection of race and gender
makes [their] actual experience of domestic violence, rape, and remedial reform qualitatively different than that of white women" (Crenshaw, 1991)
Experience of battered immigrant women - one example of how patterns of subordination intersect in women's experience of domestic violence