How often have you asked yourself, “Am I a good feminist?” The feminist movement today includes a wide body of knowledge, that expands as we speak. Our fast-paced lives make it difficult for us to constantly stay abreast of it. We should be asking ourselves instead, are we kind feminists with an open mind? How can we be more inclusive? Here we have, 6 concepts every feminist must read up on, to be more aware, sensitive and inclusive.
Social and political identities, like gender, class, caste, and race, determine the discrimination and privilege we’re subjected to. Intersectionality is a framework that takes into account the overlap of such identities, to get a more complex understanding of injustice and oppression in society. To make feminism more inclusive, we must be aware of intersectional realities. On Intersectionality by Kimberle Crenshaw and Mapping Dalit Feminism by Anandita Pan are some great reads on the same!
2. DALIT FEMINISM
Dalit feminism is a feminist school that challenges caste and gender roles among Dalits. Dalit women in India have been historically oppressed at two levels – first, owing to their identity as Dalit; and second, because they’re women. These two strands of patriarchy have been identified as Brahmanical and Dalit patriarchy respectively. The Prisons We Broke / Jina Amucha by Babytai Kamble and The Weave Of My Life / Aaidan by Urmila Pawar are extremely poignant books.
Ableism refers to discrimination against disabled folks. Mainstream feminism is often ableist in its methods, with inaccessible events, and usage of ableist language like “Patriarchy has crippled women”. The greater vulnerability of disabled women towards sexual assault is also not acknowledged. Feminists must read up on ableism, and make their platforms a safe space for disabled women. Feminist Disability Studies is an expansive collection, bringing the voices of disabled feminists to the fore.
4. CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
Cultural appropriation refers to dominant cultural groups capitalizing on traditions and ideas of marginalized cultures without the latter’s consent. Feminists often trivialize this appropriation and help corporations, celebrities, and influencers in getting away with it. Women from indigenous cultures are thus alienated from the feminist movement. Everything You Need To Know About Cultural Appropriation by Lisa Crayton is a comprehensive, easy read.
5. TONE POLICING
Tone policing is a debating tactic that invalidates emotions expressed in an argument. It is often used to attack women of marginalized groups when they speak for their cause. Feminists must avoid this practice, and be sensitive in discussions. Haters: Harassment, Abuse and Violence Online by Bailey Poland deals with tone policing.
6. CHECKING YOUR PRIVILEGE
Most of us have access to a plethora of privileges, based on caste, class, race, and gender identity. These privileges are so normalized that we barely acknowledge them, let alone question them. Gender discrimination doesn’t occur in isolation and is influenced by privilege, which makes it even more crucial for us to check ours. Invisible Privilege by Paula Rothenberg is a pioneering work.
Feminism is a constant learning curve for us. We’re bound to begin with narrow understandings, and make lots of mistakes. It’s important, however, to acknowledge and rectify these mistakes. Reading up on the complexities of patriarchal oppression would be a good start towards this goal.