Intersectionality

The Intersectional Quilt of Oppression is blanketed all around us, some just happen to be swaddled a bit tighter than the rest and understanding the multitude of intersectional threads that the Intersectional Quilt of Oppression has woven into it, is crucial to acknowledging who is most affected by oppression, and why in order to reverse and prevent this oppression. There is no doubt that of all the gendered beings, women, female, and all things identified as feminine have been gravely abused, mistreated and oppressed by our global patriarchal social order and capitalistic culture. If we were to breakdown the patriarchy from least oppressed to most oppressed (those who sit at the top of the Patriarchal Pyramid of Oppression [i.e. least swaddled] to those who sit at the very bottom of this Patriarchal Pyramid of Oppression [i.e. the most swaddled]) you’ll find there has been an intentional system put in place that has lead to the construction of this “social order.” The intersectional nature of everyone’s identity means that it is possible to be oppressed by one aspect of your person and yet liberated by another aspect of your person. For instance, a wealthy, cis-gendered gay white man is only oppressed by the social standing of his sexuality (being gay) while liberated by all the other aspects of who he is (male, white, cis-gendered, wealthy). Another person who’s identity intersects in ways that they would be much more oppressed by the social order of the patriarchy would be a poor, trans-gendered gay black woman (being oppressed for being poor, gay, trans, a person of color, and a woman). This shows how “Intersectionality” as Black Feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined it, is important in understanding the scope of oppression some face and the levels of liberation others enjoy because of our patriarchal social order.

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Oppression can only take place if given reason and justification even through myth and stereotyped lies. In the Black Feminist Thought article, the author discusses how “Ecofeminists argue that environmental degradation and the exploitation of nature and women are rooted in the same capitalist, patriarchal, dominant culture.” This social system creates a space in which people can be oppressed but the oppression must not be looked at in a binary fashion because it is very intersectional. Black women face far more oppression than white women, though both are oppressed for being women, our social structures allow privileges to white people and oppress people of color, so black women would be further oppressed than their white female counterparts. In A.E. King’s scholarly article “Intersectionality and the Changing Face of Ecofeminism” the author discusses how the prejudices women face due to their menstruation vary based on “the various roles of religion, caste, and class (among other important factors) in the outcome of a wide range of issues which in this case affect women and the environment.” (King) This is seen in the struggles of women in developing countries like India face when it comes to their menstruation. A survey conducted in South Gujarat found that restrictions were placed on menstruating adolescent girls “89% of respondents claimed that they were restricted as to what they could touch, and just under 35% of girls were not even ‘allowed’ to leave the house alone.” (King) These are insane statistics encompassing the majority of all adolescent girls in this rural part of India, these women are being oppressed by the patriarchal social system they live under. In order to understand and address these complex collective of oppression, ecofeminism must be always evolving and changing so that activist and society can be sufficient to societies needs and struggle. In the Netflix documentary “Period. End of Sentence.” director Rayka Zehtabchi addresses these same issues of the stigma surrounding menstrual cycles in India while simultaneously finding a way to manufacture sanitary pads (feminine hygiene products). This is a great effort towards ecofeminism in a developing country like India where many women suffer under the oppression of the patriarchy. Intersectionality is an important component in the conversation of ecofeminism and how we will be able to move forward in feminist activities of social ratification and climate change. Understanding intersectionality as a quilt can add an image to the abstract complexities of oppression. As stated in King’s scholarly article, through Karren Warren’s theory of thought, “the patches which provide the quilt with its ‘quilt-ness’ are created by the diversity of perspectives and a multitude of opinions from a grass-roots level upwards,” meaning we should adopt the ecofeminist theory of intersectionality when discussing any issues of oppression.

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60 Comments

  1. The quilt is so beautiful. It’s a great call to arms in a way of peace and light. What are we doing to look in on our own journey in order to help the planet I think we must look at what are own intersectionality is. It’s a true reflection on how so many are discriminated against. I find the knowledge to be being lifted from their own disabilities as an individual. I love the analogy of interesectionality being a quilt and do think Eco Feminism is a light to the darkness of oppression but only with the practice of intersectionality. Thanks for such a great read.

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