I recently learned from
Black female bloggers strugglingtobeheard and other feminists that we are appropriating this word. A Black feminist named Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw came up with the term intersectionality to talk about how race and gender intersect for women of color. It was never intended for white women to use to describe our own feminism or an allegiance with woc—or, worse yet, intersecting oppressions for white people.
We can be anti-racist, we can be allies, we can be social justice bloggers, but we are not “intersectional.” We don’t experience the intersection of race and gender.
The thing is Crenshaw never gets credit for coining this term and white feminists ignore the fact a Black woman invented it to describe her experience as a Black woman, and for other women of color to use. We as white feminists often use this term without ever engaging with Black womanists and Black feminists or other feminists of color, which constantly sidelining their issues, and being racist ourselves or not checking our privilege.The term can be used as a shield for white feminists. For example, I’ve seen a white feminist go to a Desi woman’s ask box, when she was talking about racist white feminists in her grad program and tell her, “oh it’s too bad there are no intersectional feminists in your school!” And she had to tell them, “nope they call themselves intersectional feminists, but they are still racist and throw woc under the bus.”
Some of us like to think if we call ourselves “intersectional” than we’re not like ~THOSE~ white feminists those ~non-intersectional~ white feminists, but that’s not true. We are white feminists—we have white female privilege. We benefit just as much from white supremacy as anyone else and we are just as able to be racist and exclude, talk over, invalidate or ignore woc.
I used to use this term for myself and I used to use this term to describe “intersections” of my oppressions. But this isn’t right. That’s not how the term was intended. And us white people steal too much shit from POC—especially women of color—ESPECIALLY Black women.
So let’s stop appropriating this term and give it back to the women who it was made for—women of color.
Ok, a black woman coined the term. It still applies conceptually to other intersecting oppressions. We do need words to refer to things and the alternative of coining separate terms for referring to each and every intersection would not be practical.