The fight for gender equality is a feminist concept widely understood. What is often ignored, however is the specific way gender inequality comes about in different cultures and circumstances. Pop culture feminism assumes that all women are united; fighting against the same inequality, but this could not be farther from the truth. This kind of all-encompassing, hegemonic feminism ignores problems that come with race, class, and sexuality. By assuming the female experience is the same for all, it subtly sweeps the issues faced by racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities as well as the LGBTQ+ community under the rug, pinning their problems as less important.
What is African feminism? What is Chicana feminism? What is feminism for Asian American lesbians, or queer Muslim youth? With each culture, race, and identity there are different problems that affect the people within these communities. So, for example, when looking at inequalities like wage gap, it is a blanketing statement to simply state “women get paid lower than men” without considering facts that white women get paid more than women of color, and addressing inequality in the workplace based on sexuality, and so forth.
Feminism is much more than making women equal to men. It is a belief that challenges dominant, oppressive systems. Feminists fight against gender inequality for all genders and queer identities. They are against white supremacy, classism, and heteronormativity. They are against whatever belief or system marginalizes and oppresses other human beings.
When looking at patriarchy in other countries, American feminists can be so quick to patronizingly point out flaws and throw solutions without fully understanding specific social contexts. What needs to be understood is that those within these communities have their own opinions and solutions. For us, there is a time to speak on issues, and there is a time to uplift the voices being silenced. Criticism cannot be so quickly flown from our lips about the condition about other communities and nations when we do not understand the specific contexts in their specific circumstances.
The issues American women face are not the same as the issues other women around the world face. Western women’s problems are not everyone’s problems.For a more accurate view of the world, it is critical to have have perspectives that examine different aspects of society. Feminism is intersectional and dynamic, it does not just have to do with being a female.
(Photo credit: Whispered Between Women)