hey, I just saw this in your ask "So I recently learned about the origins of intersectional feminism and why a non-black person claiming it is appropriative. " I had no idea.. i did a quick google search, but didn't come up with anything on appropriation. Do you have recommendations on articles/blogs/resources to read on this? If not I'll continue to google and see what I can come up with, but i want to be SURE I get the right resources from someone who knows.
Of course! This seems to be a hot topic right now, so I’m happy to provide you and anyone else with resources.
Tumblr user strugglingtobeheard wrote a piece about a year ago on how White women using the term “intersectional feminist” to describe themselves is appropriative. The general gist of it is that because the term “intersectionality” was coined by a Black woman seeking to discuss and analyze the intersection of oppression specific to Black women (gender+race), White women cannot use the term because they do not live at that intersection. Because White women cannot understand how it feels to be Black, they cannot do justice to the original intent of the word.
Here’s an excerpt for those who cannot read the full post now:
intersectionality is meant as a bottom up approach, not a top down approach. those with power cannot be “intersectional”. you are also not living intersectional experiences. intersectionality was always about exposing the ways Black women are caught up in multiple systems of oppression, namely race, gender and class, but often many more. it is meant to help Black women understand their experiences in a white supremacist patriarchal culture like the U.S. or much of Western nations that have applied this model onto most cultures from the outside.
Shortly after that post, theroguefeminist made a PSA about it, saying that White feminists shouldn’t use the term because they experience privilege and try to use the term as a shield from being called out, etc.
Here’s a snippet from that post:
Some of us like to think if we call ourselves “intersectional” then we’re not like ~THOSE~ white feminists those ~non-intersectional~ white feminists, but that’s not true. We are white feminists–we have white female privilege. We benefit just as much from white supremacy as anyone else and we are just as able to be racist and exclude, talk over, invalidate or ignore woc.
Another blogger, timemachineyeah, was doing research on the topic (just like you), and drew from both theroguefeminist and strugglingtobeheard’s posts, and others. The post was answered by strugglingtobeheard, who made a very interesting point on white women wanting to call themselves intersectional feminists:
White women really are not hands on. they want to be saviors and they want to be named and praised for what they have said but not what they do. and i think the focus on the naming is really an extension of that reality. what do you do? for women? for women of color? how are you applying the knowledge that women have intersectional experiences to your application of feminism? is feminism just an identity or is it how you live and do things?
An apt bit here:
Womanism. Intersectionality. Matrix of domination. Misogynoir. Four of the many concepts that are fought tooth and nail to not exist[…] Subject to the scrutiny of imperialist White supremacist capitalist patriarchy (this is bell hooks’ combined term) and how it shapes epistemology. Eventually once accepted, then they are disconnected from its originators often for the purpose of silencing other Black women. There’s people who use the terms and ideas to push their agenda (agendas that usually exclude Black women) yet none of the originators are anywhere on their sites. […] when they discuss modern issues in feminism, they refuse to name Black women currently doing the work. They gladly name any White woman they’re referring to.
As for my thoughts on it, I’m of the belief that because anti-blackness is pervasive in every group, only those who can call themselves Black should be able to lay claim to the term “intersectional feminist.” This way, the term will always bring to the forefront the origins of the word. Though I also believe that everyone should apply intersectional theory to how they analyze oppressive institutions in general.
I know this is a lot to read, so for a quick TLDR;
If you’re white, don’t call yourself an intersectional feminist because-
- you do not experience the type of oppression that the term was coined to discuss
- it has been used by white feminists as a shield to avoid being held accountable for bigoted actions or words
- some white feminists fixate on it as a way to separate themselves from other white feminists in order to seem less problematic without putting in actual intersectional work (again, avoiding accountability)
- intersectionality is often used without proper credit being given to the creators of the concept (Black women)
- claiming it as a white woman erases Black women and pushes away the issue of anti-blackness
Hope all of this helped! And fellow Black/intersectional feminists, if I got something wrong, please add a response or send an ask!