The quest for women's equality has forever been an undercurrent in social activism. Linked to third-wave feminism is intersectional feminism, a more comprehensive understanding of the diverse experiences behind gender inequality. It extends beyond the traditional feminist framework, which often highlights a singular experience, that of the middle-class, cisgender white women, to include perspectives from women of different races, socio-economic backgrounds, classes, sexual orientations, abilities, and identities.
The History of Intersectional Feminism
The roots of intersectional feminism can be traced back to the 18/19th-century abolitionist and women's rights movements, where black women like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman fought not only for their rights as women but as black individuals.
The term was not officially coined until 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw. Crenshaw introduced the term intending to highlight the experiences of black women who were marginalized within both the feminist and civil rights movements. Crenshaw argued that mainstream feminism had disregarded the experiences of women of color, lower socio-economic status, and different sexual orientations or identities and enough was enough. Importantly, she highlighted the fact that these women face unique forms of discrimination that couldn't be addressed adequately by only focusing on sexism or racism in isolation.
Intersectionality refers to the way different social categorizations – race, class, and gender – intersect and overlap, resulting in unique forms of discrimination and disadvantages. The principle behind intersectional feminism is that women's experiences of oppression are shaped not solely by their gender, but by other aspects of their identity, including race, socioeconomic status, disability, or sexual orientation, too.
Intersectional feminism seeks to ensure inclusivity and acknowledge diversity. The central principles include:
- Recognizing Multiple Identities: Intersectional feminism acknowledges that individuals' identities are multifaceted and cannot be reduced to a single attribute, such as gender. It values diversity and calls for an understanding of how different identities intersect and shape individuals' experiences.
- Challenging Systems of Oppression: Intersectional feminism understands that systems of oppression are interlinked. Sexism cannot be completely understood or addressed without considering other forms of discrimination like racism, classism, ableism, or homophobia.
- Promoting Inclusivity: Intersectionality emphasizes the importance of including all women's experiences and voices, especially those historically marginalized or overlooked.
Intersectional Feminism Today
Today, intersectional feminism informs many conversations around social justice, equality, and diversity. It encourages us to critically examine representation in various sectors, ensuring that diverse voices are heard, not just those that fit the conventional narratives.
In academia, intersectional feminism has encouraged a more nuanced understanding of history, politics, sociology, and more. It challenges scholars to consider how multiple forms of discrimination can interact, offering a more comprehensive picture of social inequality. In activism and policy-making, intersectional feminism advocates for policies that address the multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination faced by individuals. It pushes for representation and equity in decision-making positions and calls for social systems that cater to diverse needs.
Looking forward, intersectional feminism will continue to play a critical role in the fight for equality. It pushes for an inclusive understanding of discrimination and insists on solutions that impact the multiple, overlapping forms of oppression faced by different individuals.
AIMA and Intersectionality
So what does this mean for AIMA? We’re inclusive of all women and people who menstruate.
Promoting intersectional feminism means acknowledging and valuing the experiences of all women and individuals who menstruate, including those from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and gender identities. Not only do we want to support all women and people who menstruate, but we also uphold the principles of intersectional feminism by doing the following behind the scenes:
- Implementing Inclusive Policies and Practices: AIMA ensures that our policies and practices are inclusive and considerate of the varying needs and experiences of all women and menstruating individuals. This involves fighting for Paid Period Leave and providing our team adequate menstrual leave, having comprehensive anti-discrimination and harassment policies in place, and ensuring equal opportunities for advancement and growth.
- Representation: AIMA strives to represent a diverse representation of women and menstruating individuals at all levels of our organization. This helps us ensure that the experiences and perspectives of all groups are considered at all levels of our decision-making. We strive to be inclusive with our language by incorporating terms like "women and people who menstruate" and "menstruators." We know that not all women menstruate and that trans-men can menstruate.
- Advocacy: AIMA uses its platform loudly and proudly to advocate for intersectional feminism, by supporting relevant causes, partnering with intersectional feminist organizations, and raising awareness about the issues faced by diverse women and menstruating individuals. We also love to focus on the intersection of LGBTQ+ issues and period pain.
- Research and Development: AIMA is determined to close the gender-pain gap and is determined to continue conducting and supporting research that includes diverse experiences and perspectives, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of issues related to menstruation, gender, and discrimination.
Intersectional feminism is a comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing gender inequality. By recognizing that women and individuals with a uterus’ experiences of discrimination are influenced by various intersecting social categorizations, intersectional feminism can become more inclusive.
By harnessing this framework, AIMA is creating an inclusive platform with an emphasis on recognizing multiple identities, understanding LGBTQ+ needs behind period pain through a queer leadership lens, challenging systems of oppression, and promoting inclusivity makes the framework a powerful tool for achieving social justice in our diverse society.