The new buzz phrase since the women's marches is intersectional feminism. To quote Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means." White feminists seem to want to claim the phrase as a way we can connect with feminists from minority groups, or intersect with them on the issue of feminism. That's not it at all, and it's important that we stop acting like we know what oppression feels like.
We, white feminists in 21st century America, even under Tr*mp, are not oppressed. We have more freedom, luxury, opportunity, education, and choices than any society of women ever. EVER. Fighting for our rights to healthcare and equality is important, but it's NOTHING compared to fighting true oppression.
We need to take a step back from our own arrogant perception of reality. Intersectional feminism isn't whatever we decide we want it to be. It's the definition of women (and men) who bear not only the burden of fighting for the rights of all women, but also fighting for the rights of their literal identity. Black, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Latina, lesbian, transgender, and all the other groups that our society treats unfairly and apathetically, these people are not only standing up for feminism. They are fighting for their lives intersectionally. A white women has NO IDEA what life is like for a transgender black Muslim. One oppression intersects with another and another and there is ALWAYS a fight for the right to exist.
White feminists getting politically active is important. Let's do it. But let's recognize that it's a stroll down a country lane compared to the multi-high-speed-highway-junction of intersectionalism that so many people are trying to live with and survive under, let alone fight.
Our grandmother feminists fought for the vote, and that was hard and important and necessary. Our mothers fought for the right to make our own decisions about what happens to our bodies, and for our reproductive rights. That was also hard and important and necessary. Now that a new generation has tasted inequality, now that all our hard-won rights are threatened, we have a much greater fight ahead. With the access to information, the ability to network and build virtual communities out of thin air, we need to learn to fight for the rights of ALL women, of ALL people -- especially those whose rights are threatened on more levels than we can ever really understand.
Intersectional feminism is a burden that minority women have carried since the concept of women's rights was first expressed. We as a society have ignored it. Our new feminism, our enlightened, modern, informed feminism, requires that we humble ourselves, we recognize our privilege, and we walk alongside the women who have fought alone for so long.
This generation's feminism will be all-inclusive and compassionate. It will lift up those who live with multiple intersections of oppression, for the sake of all of us. This is the only road to true freedom.
Susie Snortum is passionate about improving society's compassion for meeting basic human needs -- food, shelter, clean water, and dignity.