Multiracial Feminism: Acknowledging Adversity through Color and Culture

Feminist issues are not and never will be “one size fits all”. What is important to the masses cannot be defined by the few of a common identity; the current hegemony of white feminists leading the movement has resulted in a cause solely concentrated on the challenges they find pressing. Minority feminist groups have contributed to the progression of feminism (specifically the Second Wave in the 70’s being the most notable), but often go undocumented for building a premise of racially tolerant political action groups.

The phase “multiracial feminism” is defined as feminism based on the examination of dominance through understanding social constructs of race, ethnicity, tradition, and culture. Moreover, each person experiences gender, class, sexuality, and race unique to their environment. The ultimate goal for the new generation of multiracial feminists is to increase awareness of commonalities and differences women of all races experience.

Furthermore, multiracial feminists must work to heighten the significance of comparative cross-culture studies of the aforementioned. Issues with gender equality are relative to the environment of the oppressed. For example, an African-American woman faces a completely different set of challenges than an Asian-American woman; while both women’s fears are equal in significance to the progression toward equality, our movement fails to acknowledge the diversity of hardships and their necessity for flexible, viable solutions.

The opposition argues that feminism is exclusive to women’s issues; race does not play a role in a feminist’s conquest for equality and, in turn, is completely unrelated to the cause at hand. However, racial issues become integrated unintentionally due to the diversity of conflict feminists face within their respective communities.

As a young Iranian-American woman, the adversity I face in my attempts to level the field with my older, male peers is relative to my culture’s perception of inherit respect. Since the Iranian culture treats women as second-class citizens, the uphill battle for equal opportunity is daunting.  Comparing all minority groups, the way patriarchy is practiced varies from culture to culture. The movement will benefit in having a well-rounded purpose connecting all feminists when we can identify the importance of heterogenity of struggle of racism and sexism, rather than allowing the few to represent the many.

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3 responses to “Multiracial Feminism: Acknowledging Adversity through Color and Culture

  1. As a multiracial (half Cherokee, 1/8 Black, 3/8 White) feminist, I couldn’t agree more; and you’ve made a really clear point about why it’s so important for feminism to be intersectional. 🙂 I know whenever I compare the experiences of women and patriarchal societies among Cherokee and Black and White cultures alone mostly just because that’s my heritage, there are very different aspects of each that help me understand where feminism needs to really go. These cultural differences are so important to understand and compare to more popularized “white feminist” issues, and you did a fantastic job writing this article!

  2. Great post- thanks. Whether known as ‘Multicultural feminism’, ‘multiracial feminism’ or ‘intersectionality’, I think it demonstrates how feminism is a constant developing movement, where we listen to and learn from each other to overcome previous difficulties (such as having only a white, middle-class female version of identity in 70’s and 80’s 3rd wave), to the multicultural idenity of today’s 4th force, which recognizes that while she share somethings with cultural groups we belong to, because we belong to multiple cultural groups and these influences intersect along lines of privilege and oppression, it means our experiences are often quite unique. So while a woman of colour’s experience of sexism is different from a white woman’s experience, it is not ‘worse’, just different, just a gay man of colour’s experience of racism is different from a straight man of colour’s experience of racism. This is especially relevant now when there appears to be a rise in women criticizing feminism, or feminists criticizing each other for having different understandings, or believing in different approaches to achieving equality, which, as bell hooks once said, only leads to fragmentation. By recognizing that our multicultural identity influences a unique interpretation of shared experiences, it should then prevent us from believing that any one of us, or any group of us, has a greater understanding of a person or group of people’s experience with oppression than another.

  3. Pingback: Week 1: Multiracial Feminism. India’s Daughter – kartikguptawst·

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