When promoting her autobiography Brave earlier this year, Rose McGowan was confronted by a transgender woman, who accused her of being a ‘white cis feminist’, following her comment on RuPaul’s What’s The Tee? Podcast, where she stated “That’s [feeling like a woman on the inside] not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman and a lot of the stuff I hear trans [women] complaining about, yeah, welcome to the world.”
These comments are undeniably transphobic and unacceptable and McGowan has a history of making offensive remarks such as these ones . She has previously stated that Caitlyn Jenner “doesn’t understand” being female and claimed “I have an indictment of the gay community right now…gay men are as misogynistic as straight men”. Considering that she is a public figure who has the ability to influence the masses, these comments are beyond irresponsible.
The woman who called out Rose was escorted out of the event, whilst she continued to chant ‘white cis feminism’. Girls Against wants to address and respond to this incident in explaining the importance of intersectional feminism.
The term ‘intersectional feminism’ was first used by civil rights advocate and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Whilst studying to become a lawyer, she noticed that gender and race were perceived as two separate issues. She believed that studying them in isolation made no sense. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines intersectionality as “the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect”. So, to put it simply, intersectional feminism recognises that the discrimination women face does not exist in one bubble – different kind of prejudice can be amplified in different ways when combined. Thus recognising, with regards to this situation, that the prejudice and discrimination a transgender woman might face is undoubtedly different to the prejudice and discrimination that a white-cis woman would is extremely important.
To assume that feminism is only for white, cis-gendered women is wounding to the movement itself and feminism that promotes this idea is not really feminism at all. Akilah Hughes, also known as Akilah Obviously on YouTube, has created a great video that explains intersectionality in the form of pizza – it is well worth a watch!
Laverne Cox, who considers herself a feminist demonstrated how important it is that feminism is inclusive and for everybody, “I think the trans movement and the LGBT movement in general really has to be a social justice movement where we look at issues of race and class and xenophobia in general”.
Another example of someone who has wonderfully demonstrated the need for intersectional feminism is sixteen-year-old Rowan Blanchard who wrote an essay on the topic:
“White feminism” forgets all about intersectional feminism. The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women. While white women are making 78 cents to the dollar, Native American women are making 65 cents, black women are making 64 cents, and Hispanic women are making 54 cents. Kimberlé Crenshaw said it perfectly in 1989 when she said “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”
What I have (very briefly) discussed about the importance of intersectional feminism reinforces that feminism is not feminism if it is not for all. Girls Against truly believes in this and as a campaign we are always here for everyone.
Written By Megan Ryder-Maki (@ixxmcmxl on Twitter.)