Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Personal: International Intersectional Women's Day 2017

As soon as I knew theme for this years International Women's Day, I popped it in my diary- Be Bold For Change. I knew, as a woman and a feminist, I wanted, nay, needed to add my voice to the mix and say something for the cause as I'm aware of my heavily female audience on here. Initially I pandered to an idea for a video about how the makeup women wear, the clothes they choose to adorn themselves with or the skin they show don't equate to a hypocrisy when they label themselves feminists. It seemed topical (hey Emma gurl) and something I had personal experience in. When I spoke out against Sam Pepper in 2014, the comments were rife with men questioning my feminist status because 'she literally has an entire channel about makeup and fashion, now she's saying she's feminist? Pull the other one love, clearly doing it for the viewwwws.' But it didn't seem the right fit. There are hundreds of more intelligent women out there already calling out other people, in more impactful, eloquent ways, for this behaviour and whilst I commend anyone, who calls out another person on harmful behaviour I wanted to call out someone I KNEW without a doubt my voice would impact. Myself. 

My personal brand of feminism has evolved over the years in varying manners. I grew from a little girl who thought 'girls can do ANYTHING because girls are the best and boys have the lurgy' to a naive teen in high school who thought it made me 'cool and likeable by the boys' to denounce feminism because 'boys will just be boys right?!' As embarrassing as that is to admit, seriously ground? Just swallow me up. Fortunately I got past that god awful stage and started to read up, to devour feminist literary works, poems, articles and to listen to my feminist peers. For more of my favourite feminist books, movies, poems, podcasts and YouTubers, you can read my thread here

My 'feminist awakening' hit me like a tidal wave in my first year at university, studying Philosophy and hanging out with some cool, woke women who improved me as a person and as a feminist. Queue chorus of angels, insert butterfly/cocoon metaphor here and baptise me in the tears of men. But I was still practising a flawed version of feminism. It was very much a myopic, blinkered view of feminism relating to cis, white feminist women like myself. It wasn't a conscious choice, but I wasn't using my voice to impact the wider, greater cause. 

It was in my second year of Uni that I came across the term 'Intersectional Feminism' and from then on out I made a choice- I was going to work harder to understand -as the definition of Intersectional Feminism puts it- that 'women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity' and be a better ally to my sisters from different walks of life. Intersectional Feminism was founded much earlier than I arrived to the party, but was given a name by professor KimberlĂ© Crenshaw in 1989. It's an attempt to expand feminism to fit beyond a white mould. To acknowledge that not every feminist woman is middle class, cis-gendered, white or able bodied. Patterns of oppression vary greatly amongst different groups of people and women experience different types of oppression in different groups, to differing degrees. The 'Intersectional' comes in to acknowledge that we are, however, linked and influenced by the intersectional systems of society.

As hard as I try, I'm still not the perfect feminist, and although that concept may not exist, my 'Be Bold For Change' pledge is to work harder to be a better ally, feminist and sister. 

Amy x

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