Laci Green: Well, hi everyone! I’m in New York, and I’m on the Decoded set. I’m here with Internet badass, Franchesca Ramsey of MTV Decoded.
We talk about feminism a lot on Braless and as you start to learn more maybe you’ve heard this big word – intersectionality – tossed around a bit.
Franchesca Ramsey: Maybe you’ve asked yourself what it is, why it’s important, or “What’s the meaning of life?” – which I’ve asked myself a few times.
Laci Green: So we can definitely help with those first two questions, but maybe not the last one.
Franchesca Ramsey: Intersectionality means looking at the intersections of people’s identities. It’s a type of feminism that looks at how women of different backgrounds experience oppression.
Laci Green: So for all you science babes out there, it’s basically shining a light through a prism to look at all the different wavelengths.
Text on left: Women.
Text on right: Young. Old Women. Women with Disabilities. Bisexual Women. Lesbian Women. Transgender Women. Women of Color.
Laci Green: Yeah, we’re all women, but it’s not enough to just look at the white light. Our background and our identities and the issues that are affecting us are very diverse, just as diverse as the colors of the rainbow.
Franchesca Ramsey: Women of color, trans women, lesbians, bisexual women, asexual women, women with disabilities, women with mental illness, old women, young girls, diverse body types, poor women, immigrant women, so many women!
Laci Green: And basically every woman that the mainstream feminist movement has a bad habit of leaving behind.
From its wee beginnings, the feminist movement has focused mostly on issues of middle-class white ladies.
Franchesca Ramsey: Which is leaving out a lot of women. How can a movement for women really be effective without addressing the needs of all women?
Laci Green: Oops, it can’t! And that’s why intersectionality is important. Without it, it’s not really feminism. Feminism is for everyone.
Text: bell hooks
Franchesca Ramsey: So how can we get our intersectional feminism on? It’s as easy as one, two, three. One: Examine our own privileges. Two: Listen to each other. And three: Practice feminism through a broader, more inclusive lens.
Laci Green: Privileges are places where we hold more power in society than others.
Text: White, cisgender, able bodied, food, and shelter.
Laci Green: For example: I’m white, I’m cisgender, I’m able-bodied, I have a roof over my head and food on the table. These are privileges that not every woman has and that shapes my experience of the world.
Franchesca Ramsey: Being straight, cisgender, and able-bodied means that there are a whole bunch of challenges I don’t have to experience. So to support equality for others, first I have to understand what my privilege prevents me from experiencing.
Laci Green: On feminist issues where we hold privilege, it’s crucial to listen to women who don’t. To listen to their experiences, to see the world through a more complex lens, and to raise the voices of those who have less power.
Franchesca Ramsey: Because you can’t exactly walk the walk if you have no idea where the walk even goes. So we’re going to put our intersectional skills to the test with a little challenge. We’re going to draw three feminist issues from this magical hat, and then we’re going to talk about how to address them intersectionally.
Laci Green: Let’s do this!
Franchesca Ramsey: Equal pay.
Laci Green: All right, so the not intersectional perspective would be: Women make 78 cents to every man’s dollar.
Franchesca Ramsey: Right, because that’s really only what white women make compared to the man’s dollar. The intersectional approach would be that black women get paid 68 cents to the man’s dollar, and the Hispanic women make 54 cents.
Laci Green: Boom! All right. Birth control and abortion access.
Franchesca Ramsey: Okay, so the not-intersectional approach would be: Women should have the right to choose for her, which sounds pretty good, right?
Laci Green: Right, but intersectional approach, the poor can’t always make a choice that’s right for them if it’s not actually affordable or within reasonable reach. So class, race, and gender presentation all affect someone’s access to reproductive healthcare. All right, last one.
Franchesca Ramsey: Street harassment.
Laci Green: Mm, okay, so not intersectional would be: Women have a right to exist in public without being harassed.
Franchesca Ramsey: And the intersectional approach would be: Women and LGBT[QIA+] folks all experience elevated levels of street harassment, and they have a right to exist in public without being harassed, too. Street harassment is often motivated by sexism, homophobia, and transphobia – which are all connected.
Laci Green: Strip away all the fancy language, and all we’re really talking about is looking out for each other.
Franchesca Ramsey: And nobody’s going to be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. The key is to make an honest effort to keep educating ourselves so we can keep moving forward.
Laci Green: Which is exactly what we intend to do. Thanks for joining us for Braless, everyone.
Franchesca Ramsey: And make sure to click over here and watch the video that we made together for MTV Decoded.
Franchesca and Laci: Bye!