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Are You an Inclusive Feminist?

When it comes to equality, do you practice what you preach?
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As we’ve talked about before, intersectional feminism is crucial.

Intersectional feminism expands the tight boundaries of traditional feminism, which often overlooks the realities of non-white, non-cisgender and non-straight women.

So how do you take steps towards actually including all types of people in your feminism?

Acknowledge that you’re privileged.

If you’re able to read this website without censorship or threat of death, you are privileged.

If you’re able to vote in presidential elections, even if your candidate doesn’t win, then you are privileged.

If you have food on the table or a college education or even the ability to walk into a store without being racially profiled, you are privileged.

Even if you’re non-white, or non-straight, or non-cisgender, you can still experience privilege in other areas of your life. That’s not a bad thing by any means, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it – but acknowledge that your privilege colors your worldview and that people with varying levels of privilege may have different opinions.

Listen.

It’s human nature to jump to conclusions based on what you think you know. When the #BlackLivesMatter movement started, many non-black people assumed that the movement meant that other lives didn’t matter, which was not true.

Instead of making assumptions about a group of people that you don’t know, ask questions. Look things up. Read articles.

This works for politics too. Mainstream feminism often assumes that women will be liberal, meaning pro-choice, for example, and pro-Hillary Clinton. But this narrow view overlooks a large subset of women, namely, those who are conservative and who hold opinions at odds with traditional feminism. Instead of condemning these people, open your mind and learn how they think. You don’t have to agree, but you should be able to empathize.

Ask questions.

Yes, you can use Google. But it’s also okay to ask someone  – for example, if you’re not sure whether Muslim women choose to wear hijabs or are forced to, you could ask a Muslim friend if she minds explaining it to you. In many cases, as long as someone sees that you’re earnestly trying to learn, they will be open.

Realize that feminism evolves.

Feminism today isn’t what it was in the ’90s or ’70s or ’60s.

Judith Butler’s feminism looks different from bell hooks’ feminism looks different from Beyoncé’s feminism. According to bell hooks, Beyonce is a terrorist, but at least she’s a feminist one.

Recognize that there’s no one “right” way to be feminist, so don’t lock yourself into one worldview. Always be willing to read, rethink and even disagree with yourself. As the world changes, so should your ideas.

Read more on intersectional feminism here.

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Author
J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer--dreams she's now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She's passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment's notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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