After the recent United States election, there was a great deal of talk about White Feminism and how white women had thrown their POC and queer sisters under the bus by supporting Donald Trump. White feminism is the term for white centric, faux-feminism that assumes (wrongly) that white women experience the same things as black women, Hispanic women, Asian women, and it doesn’t account for experiences of the differently abled, LGBT, or poor. Intersectional feminism acknowledges the relationship between these different systems of inequality. It knows that black women face each day as black women – that they don’t sometimes get to experience life as either women or black. It knows that focusing on improving conditions for women should also include provisions for uplifting Native and Indigenous persons, protecting the rights of our Trans brothers and sisters, and including non-binary persons as well.
We need intersectional feminism because without it, life isn’t being made better for everyone – and what good are we if we merely hand off the burden of mistreatment to someone else? If women shouldn’t be mistreated, neither should anyone else. A prime example of how white feminism often differs from the basic ideals of intersectional feminism is the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. It has widely been regarded as a success both financially and ideologically thanks to its box office records, female director, and powerful female lead characters. However, from an intersectional feminist perspective there are some problematic elements. (Namely the fact that Gal Gadot, the actress playing Wonder Woman, wept over the atrocities toward women and children committed by Nazis on screen despite her own experiences in the military. In life she served in the Israeli military, and she has publicly supported assaults on Palestine, despite the fact that women and children are often killed in such attacks.)
The purpose of this article isn’t to decide whether or not supporting a particular film is wrong. (There are plenty of articles which can assist you in that process, and Google is as of this posting still free.) What it can do, however, is give you new voices to listen to. Many feminists don’t deliberately take a white-centric approach to feminism, but by failing to deliberately include POC and LGBT voices in media trawling, they can omit important perspectives.
For a handy list just in time for Christmas**, here are some intersectional feminists you need in your life:
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
This civil rights advocate is a leading scholar of critical race theory. She is known for developing and studying intersectional theory. (Literally the study of how overlapping/intersectional social identities exist. Especially in the case of minority identities.)
Quote: “When feminism does not explicitly oppose racism, and when antiracism does not incorporate opposition to patriarchy, race and gender politics often end up being antagonistic to each other and both interests lose.”
This YouTube personality and transgender rights activist has a weekly YouTube series called True Tea where she answers viewer questions ranging from trans issues to black culture. The rest of her channel is committed to race, gender, and other social justice issues.
Quote: “I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m curvy, and I’m trans. There are a lot of things I deal with when I talk about those things. I am literally talking about my embodiment of these intersections.”
This comedian, activist, actress, and television and YouTube personality hosts the show MTV Decoded, which focuses on topics like racism and privilege. She was also a writer on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore until its recent cancellation.
Quote: “How can a movement for women really be effective without addressing the needs of all women?”
This actress is a reality TV star, TV producer and an LGBT advocate. She is widely recognized due to her work on Orange is the New Black and has used her platform to bring awareness to trans issues.
Quote: “Each and every one of us has the capacity to be an oppressor. I want to encourage each and every one of us to interrogate how we might be an oppressor and how we might be able to become liberators for ourselves and for each other.”
This actress and singer rose to become a household name when she played Rue in The Hunger Games, but since that time has made waves by expressing that both her gender and sexuality are fluid. She’s using her social media platforms (and Teen Vogue) to share messages about inclusion.
Quote: “Black female voices need to be uplifted within the mainstream feminist movement, especially at this time. It’s crucial.”
Akilah is a comedian, writer, and YouTuber. She writes about hair, pop culture, race, and politics. She has a recurring segment named This Shouldn’t Be News.
Quote: “Don’t be fooled. Donald Trump doesn’t care about you, or me, or the Shaws. He knows that the Republican party’s only chance for survival is to create an enemy in the ‘other’.”
Rosario Dawson is an actress, producer, and comic book writer. She has been arrested protesting at least twice before – in 2004 protesting George W. Bush and in 2016 in the Democracy Spring.
Quote: “When you realize the power of interconnectedness with others you’ll recognize opportunities in front of you.”
Riley J. Dawson
Riley is a writer and YouTube activist working to educate the public on issues all connected through social justice and intersectional feminism. She primarily focuses on rape culture, gender identity, sexuality, and fat phobia.
Quote: “I’m a queer, trans, gay person and I will happily support and defend all of my Muslim siblings. I refuse to be used as an excuse for people to discriminate against Muslims.”
This fifteen-year-old actress is set to costar in the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, but in the meantime she is working as an activist for human rights, feminism, and against gun violence. She shares her views on Twitter and Tumblr primarily, but has spoken to the UN and at the US National Committee’s annual conference.
Quote: “’White feminism forgets all about intersectional feminism, the way a black woman experiences inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise, with trans women and Hispanic women.”
This actress has been basking in the limelight since she played Hermione in the Harry Potter series, but she has done much more with her fan base and status than individuals with similar power. There have been many who argue Watson is too affluent to understand the plight of the working class or other marginalized people, however, some acknowledgement should be given for the effort to use her voice to boost the causes whose voices are often ignored. Even if you choose not to listen to Watson herself, her statements can help point you in the right direction.
Quote: “I want as many people as possible to feel seen, heard, and included in this movement.”
**This is not the be-all-and-end-all list of astonishing intersectional feminists. There are millions, and we are thankful for every single one.