Intersectionality in feminism

Much of the popular feminist movement today has been dominated by White Feminism — a reach for equality that neglects the issues and concerns that pertain to women of color. Although every white person who is a feminist does not follow this misinformed approach to gender equality, there are an alarming number of feminists that only emphasize the needs of white women. Amongst rampant violence, fetishization and appropriation. Women of color are currently — and have always — experienced economic and political disparities that popular feminism fails to address. According to a study done by The American Association of University Women in 2015, white women earn on average 78 cents for every white man’s dollar. However, women of color are earning even less with Hispanic women at 54 percent, Black women at 65 percent and Native American women earning 65 percent of what the average white man makes. Unfortunately, these realities are widely unrecognized and are not being fought for on a large enough scale. However, women of color are increasingly using their public platforms to raise awareness and call out for inclusivity.

A key contributor to Chicana literature, Sandra Cisneros, uses her writing to combat gendered norms in Chicano society as well as in the broader society. She acknowledges the different field of experience Chicana women have and the contribution race has to womanhood. In an interview with author and professor Feroza Jussawalla, Cisneros explains that she doesn’t feel her feminism aligns with that of upper-class white women because her experience as a woman is tied to her race. She shares her experiences in her most recent book “A House of My Own.”

Actress Amandla Stenberg experienced many hateful, racist comments after her portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games and for her exposure of Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation in 2015; however, she has not been silenced. Giving a voice to the teenage population, Stenberg has called for the uplifting of black female voices in mainstream feminism and an end to confusing strongly opinionated black women with being angry and aggressive. Through her influence and highlighting of intersectional feminism, she has recently been co-awarded Ms. Foundation of Women’s Feminist Celebrity of the Year.

The goal is not to drive severance between the movement for gender equality, but to be more inclusive with our efforts and acknowledge that not every woman has the same struggle. As seen through the actions of these powerful feminists, there is hope to make progress in the right direction. Until we collectively acknowledge the intersection of racial and ethnic inequality and gender inequality that a large portion of our population is experiencing, we are not fighting for the equality of everyone.

But how can we contribute something that matters? As college students, it is important for us to realize our potential to make progress in this movement. First, we must properly educate ourselves on the issue. There are plenty of bloggers, artists, authors and researchers who are creating easily accessible material that explains the problem of non-inclusive feminism and share their own experiences. After that, we must actively speak out. We are surrounded by brilliant and passionate minds both on campus and digitally who just need a spark of awareness to this issue in order to change the way we have approached feminism. Our generation may have inherited the flaws of our society but it is our choice whether or not we decide to collectively fix them.

This is the opinion of Vinkya Hunter, a freshman communication studies major from Oakland, California Tweet comments to @LALoyolan, or email mgaydos@theloyolan.

(2) comments


Feminist Christine Hoff Sommers:

"I do worry about a new generation of feminists who have been given a lot of misinformation. They are on every college campus and are now out in the community. Maybe ten percent of 18-24 year old women are very angry people, intoxicated with hatred, believing that maleness is synonymous with violence. Now, this is not true, but they have been fed these statistics. Statistics that I debunk are repeated and reinforced from textbooks, popular texts, newspapers. Students would have no reason to doubt them. So they believe that one in four women are victims of rape or attempted rape, or that they are still earning 59 cents on the dollar, that they are dying by the scores of thousands of anorexia nervosa. Untrue, yet they believe it. So that is going to be a problem. You are going to have these angry young women out there who believe a lot of false things. It's always dangerous to combine ignorance and moral fervor. So we are going to have some feminist fanatics to contend with, along with all the other fanatics that are in our society. So as a philosopher I'm appealing to the women's studies professors to calm down, take it easy, bring in competing points of view. You should not aim to turn your students into angry, disaffected people. What we need is a calmer and more user-friendly feminism."


The "77 Cents on the Dollar" Myth

April 9, 2014

It is a myth that a woman makes 77 cents on every dollar earned by a man, say Andrew Biggs and Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, "Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2012," full-time wage and salaried female workers had median weekly earnings of $691, compared to male median earnings of $854 (an 81 percent gap). That might seem to support the 77-cents-on-the-dollar claim, until you look at what else BLS said.

While this was a comparison of "full-time" workers, what actually qualifies as "full-time" varies within that designation.

Men were nearly twice as likely to work more than 40 hours a week than women were, and women were almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week.

Taking that into account shrinks the pay gap -- women working 40-hour weeks earned 88 percent of male earnings.

Moreover, marriage and children change the calculus even further. The BLS report shows that single, never-married women earned 96 percent of men's 2012 earnings. What do marriage and children have to do with it? Not only do mothers leave the labor market to have children, but when they return, they have less work experience than men of their age. Moreover, working mothers generally seek flexibility in their jobs, much more so than men. That flexibility pays less.

Other factors include:

In college women tend to major in fields that pay less in the labor market than others.

Men are four times more likely to negotiate their salaries in the job market than are women.

Men constitute the majority of the employees in the most dangerous jobs, such as logging; in 2012, 92 percent of work-related deaths were male deaths. These risky, dangerous jobs pay high salaries in order to attract workers, and it is men who flock to these jobs.

Similarly, men in general are more likely to pursue occupations with risky compensation, such as finance. The average pay in those jobs tends to be higher, in order to compensate for that risk.

Discrimination is not producing this pay gap. A simple look at labor market incentives illustrates how illogical this claim is. If women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, then any business looking to maximize its profits can cut its labor costs by replacing its male workers with female workers. Why are businesses ignoring this opportunity? Because it doesn't exist -- women are not paid 77 cents on the dollar for the same work as men.

Source: Mark J. Perry and Andrew G. Biggs, "The '77 Cents on the Dollar' Myth About Women's Pay," Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2014.

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