Since beginning this blog, I’ve not always been great at being intersectional. I’m not great at looking at past what’s obvious to me. Intersections and feminism can be tricky that way. What’s obvious to me and happening in my life must be the center of the feminist movement, right? It’s what we all need, since women apparently all have the exact same likes and dislikes and the same things that make them feel objectified or oppressed? Yeah, that or we’re each uniquely made with a whole different set of likes and dislikes, preferences, intelligence, interests, and a range of intersecting characteristics that create all kinds of unnecessary bias. Is it just me, or do you hate getting stuffed into a box of the kind of person you’re supposed to be?
It’s easy to be a feminist who is fighting for what most benefits me, but it’s harder to even realize what other people need. Having a privilege leaves us blind to those who don’t have it, sometimes harshly so. Some of us believe so much that equality is here already, we don’t see inequality or bias even when it hits us in the head, as had happened to me countless times in my profession. I may not have been outright discriminated against, but there have been biases that have made the road a little harder for me, and it took a long time to understand why it was that bit harder. I had to have a little thicker skin than the guys in the shop because I was an easy target for certain slurs and jokes. I didn’t think anything of it back then. We were all just having fun, right?
It can be hard to recognize that someone else has even thicker skin, has been hit even harder with those biases, and works even harder to stay on the same level as me, let alone those people who are trying to hold us both back. I’ve discovered that this blindness only goes away with practice and that even when we see it, we can’t always do something about it. I’ve made more progress with people in lunch or dinner conversation than during those battles I did attempt and the people I spoke to in those quieter times were more likely to be there to back me up later.
I have to be aware of these things. I have to know when it’s happening and whether or not it’s my place to speak up. I have to know when my job is more to assist that person in creating their platform for themselves and not speak for them. That’s probably the hardest part, not speaking for them and putting my own spin or understand on their problems. What I know to be true or how I feel about something does not translate into what that other person knows or feels. I have trouble with this concept in many aspects of my life, I work on it. I’m not perfect and never will be, but I’ll try to always work on it. That’s the promise I can make.
I try to be an intersectional feminist. I try to remember that there is no single thing that makes two people experience something the same way. Ask siblings some time about their childhood and watch them disagree on what happened. It happens all the time, though I’m sure there is exception to even this. I try to see that every culture and country has had their own battlegrounds in this. There’s more to women than having a uterus (and not all do) and there’s more to feminism than any single group of women. There’s even men and other genders in feminism, which I know is hard to believe for many. Intersectional feminism is a vast and complex thing but it gains traction every day and every one can contribute, even if it’s only in a small way.
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