Evan Klim Rebutting “On Intersectionality & Feminism”
Evan Klim (Democratic Socialism)
Judith Charpentier (Centrism)
Feminism is a political ideology that advocates for equality between women and men. With this in mind, I would argue that intersectionality does not give us “new ways of looking at the world”, intersectionality gives us a deeper understanding of the world around us. This is a key distinction because someone can look at social phenomenon and think to themselves “that’s news to me,” while someone else can observe the same event or issue and see the nuanced nature of the phenomena. Indeed, even though an individual might be not be aware of how an ideology affects their everyday life, this does not mean that they have benefited or have been disadvantaged from the ideology in question.
Intersectionality in this sense can be used as a tool to help individuals make sense of a phenomenon by exploring how ideologies and institutional structures shape one’s experience and one’s knowledge of the world around them. Yes, understanding the world using intersectionality requires intellectual sweat (and as sociologist Georg Simmel said “THINKING HURTS”), but systems of oppression do not exist overtly: they exist covertly (you cannot see it with the naked eye) and it is beneficial understanding the world as such as it gives individuals the wherewithal to combat systems of oppression.
Intersectionality in this sense can be used to make sense of a phenomenon by explaining how tools of oppression – like ageism, racism and/or sexism – shape one’s experience and one’s knowledge of the world. Indeed, an individual is composed of multiple identifiers (some of which individuals might be unaware of) and each marker plays a role in shaping how one sees and understands the world. Yes, markers for identity are discursive, but these markers play a role in shaping our everyday even when we are not aware of it. But by exploring how markers like age, gender, sexual orientation, race, class, etc. shape our everyday lives, feminists aim to highlight the complex nature of social reality so that society can improve.
Indeed, while the West champions egalitarian values, egalitarianism is something a country practices (like veganism: you can practice being a vegan, but if you eat meat, it is clear that you need to practice harder). With this said, no country in the world practices egalitarianism perfectly as every country in the world has deep flaws which people either see or don’t. For example, Indigenous communities in Canada do not have access to clean drinking water. This needs to be addressed and fixed if Canada wants to be looked to as a nation which treats everyone equally.
Historically, feminists had practiced egalitarianism by fighting for the right to vote and the right to participate in political and social life, but not everyone was included in this fight. Black women and members of the LGBTQ community were marginalized from this movement early on. Feminism in this sense had a problem with inclusion. However, by allowing members of marginalized community and allies to participate in the fight for substantive equality, feminists can uncover ways to highlight issues which, again, cannot be seen with the naked eye.
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