Intersectionality Comes to Forefront of the Feminist Movement

by Lauren Frank ‘23

During Women’s History Month, people celebrate the several advancements in women’s rights, recognizing the numerous achievements of women in all areas of life and their impact in the past and throughout society today. Whether it’s through important legislation such as the Title IX or pionering political moments like electing Kamala Harris as the United States’s first female Vice President, the experiences and lives of women have dramatically changed since the start of the Women’s Rights Movement. Now more than ever, women have the opportunities and resources to reach their goals and advocate for more, including additional protections under the law, which once was viewed as impossible.

While feminism has worked to become more inclusive over the years, there is still room for improvement. Gaps within the movement stem back to its early beginning which divided feminists and historically excluded the views and perspectives of a huge portion of women including POC, LGBTQ+, and those of a lower socioeconomic status. For far too long women from historically marginalized communities bought into the false promises of equality and have been alienated from the mainstream movement.

Mainstream feminism in the United States traces back to a traditional view of womanhood based on the normative model of a white, cisgendered, middle- class, straight, women’s experiences.
The assumption that this type of women’s experiences represent all women’s experiences, skews the ideas of feminism and truly doesn’t encapsulate all. Now, feminists are continuously working to address these disparities through activism. There is also more representation through social media, face-to-face conversations and protests. During the third wave of feminism in the ‘90s, activist, and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced the concept of “intersectionality” which is how types of oppression (race, class, gender, etc.) intersect. This concept considers the various ways that women can experience multiple
kinds of discrimination. It introduces new ideas that explain how systemic issues are deeply instilled in U.S. culture. Without the concept of “intersectionality” modern feminism would not have begun evolving to become more inclusive.

Feminism has only recently begun evolving to recognize diversity and intersectionality but is not complete or fully inclusive without the continued commitment to making institutional changes in schools, healthcare, and in the government.