Feminism is Intersectional
In 1797, when the suffrage movement was at its peak and was finally given an opportunity for a hearing in the House of Commons, Fox, a woman rights activist, stated confidently that the superior class of women were far better qualified to vote than the lower class of men. This statement, which may seem quite audacious and offensive to modern men and women, was one of the strongest arguments made by suffragists of this time.
This reference is significant because it reiterates how groups of people, or to put it more correctly, communities seeking relief from oppression, may not necessarily stand in solidarity or even understand the oppression of one another. While they may both have in common the experience of oppression, it does not entail that the experience is in any way relatable. If we can understand our various power structures like gender, sexuality, caste, religion, and so on in this context, we will eventually realize that none of these entities can be fully compounded in isolation. We cannot solve the issues induced by these power structures by studying or analyzing them as separate and disconnected.
To complicate this a little more, let us take race, gender, and sexuality into consideration. While one can easily identify the connection that exists between gender and sexuality, how these structures relate to race is a bit more complicated. Upon closer analysis, scholars have been able to identify a pattern.
A white Cis (sex identity assigned at birth is the same as gender identity) male can be placed higher in the hierarchy when compared to a white Cis female. While the gender discrimination is obvious here, to think that a black cis male would be lower in the hierarchy than a white cis woman. If we include the array of sexual differences and identities, an entire thesis can be written out of this.
While the experiences and magnitudes of oppression and discrimination are incomparable, this example was produced here to establish the complexities that exist within power structures.
This is one of the main reasons why one fails to remain inclusive and sensitive to the differential struggles of different women coming from varied communities. Therefore, many women, especially women belonging to marginalized castes, do not identify with the ideology as mainstream feminism has nothing to offer to them.
The agendas of urban dwelling, progressive, and privileged women (while still important) are not of concern to urban or rural communities, especially those belonging to marginalized groups. By recognizing the intersectionality and visibility that is provided for different groups, we might be better equipped to handle issues of patriarchy and gender. By understanding that access to information, materials, and institutions (state and private) is not equal, we will be in a better position to solve women's issues.