Photograph of Isabella Cantillano-Sanchez
By Isabella Cantillano-Sanchez
You are not a feminist unless you are an intersectional feminist. Intersectional feminism is all-inclusive and acknowledges the fact that some women are more privileged than other women.
Many people hear the term “privileged” and immediately become defensive. There is a misconception that being “privileged” means you don’t face any adversity in your life. If you are a white woman, you do not face racism the way women of color do. If you are cisgendered, you do not face transphobia the way trans women do. If you are heterosexual, you do not face homophobia the way that women who are members of the LGBTQ community do.
Being “privileged” does not make you a bad person, but it’s important to acknowledge any privileges that you do have and use it to assist women that don’t possess the same benefits.
This includes involving them in discussions, allowing them to educate you about what it’s like to be in their shoes, and to allow them to speak for themselves when an issue that relates specifically to them comes up in conversation. When you allow these people to be heavily involved, the movement will flourish because it allows the world to hear the variety of issues that women face.
Feminism that is not inclusive to all women is not feminism.
Many men question the point of feminism. They believe that it is a threat to them and wonder what their position within the movement could possibly be. The point of feminism is the achievement of equality between women and men. The reason why it centers around women is because women are often viewed as lesser than men worldwide.
We see this when women are catcalled on the street, when a woman is treated unfairly in the workplace, when men who have committed sexual assault are allowed to be in positions of power while the women are faced with doubt, when girls begin to feel the weight of society’s beauty standards on their shoulders,, and when women say they are feminists and are looked at as though they’ve said something offensive.
Feminists, or empowered women, are often described as “intimidating” and “scary.” When men are confident it is seen as the norm, but a confident woman raises eyebrows. If a girl gives herself a compliment, she is a narcissist because what she should be saying is that she’s ugly, that she’s stupid, that she’s fat, and that she hates herself.
The women’s bathroom is the mecca of the expression of self-hatred. The voices blend together, and the language of women is one of shame and self-deprecation. I have never seen a woman look into a bathroom mirror and say something positive about herself. I’ve never done it either, because I’m afraid of seeming arrogant. But if self-love is arrogance, then I’m happy to be the most arrogant woman in the world. This may seem like something from a terrible self-help book, but I challenge all of the women reading this to look go look into a mirror and say something positive about yourself.
I will be concise about this concern since it is utterly unfounded: feminism is not a threat to men. If you are a man that believes feminism is a threat to you, I would advise you to do some research on the history of the subject. As for the roles that men can play in feminism, the list is endless.
Feminists have long acknowledged male sexual assault and how it is not taken seriously due to the sexism within society. Sexism dictates that women are weak, men are strong, and that masculinity is partially defined by how much sex a man has. Therefore, male sexual assault is often played for laughs in mainstream media and completely dismissed in real life. A fact that won’t change unless society is forced to re-evaluate gender roles and how ludicrous it is to force traits upon certain genders- man, woman, or otherwise.
Reach out to women that are different from you, do research, and love yourself. Loving yourself rejects the societal belief that a certain standard of beauty exists. Loving yourself makes it easier to love others. I hope that you are proud of being a woman every month, and that if you are not a woman that you continue to acknowledge these issues. Everyone has a part to play in feminism. It’s as simple as starting a conversation.