India is the largest democracy and the most diverse country in the world, we also happen to have a huge number of people with different social identities living under the same proverbial roof – or at least trying to. Therefore, the need to understand intersectional feminism in an Indian context is greater than ever. So, Vitamin Stree tries to break down the concept of intersectionality in this episode of Scratching The Surface.
While feminism stands for equality for all genders, intersectional feminism identifies how different aspects of social and political discrimination overlap with gender. Hence, creating new kinds of oppression – ones based on gender and on a different social or political aspects like religion, caste, sexuality, ability, etc. For example, a Dalit woman in India gets sandwiched between two kinds of oppression – one of being a woman and the other of being a Dalit. In fact, oppression of Dalit women is so widespread in India that a UN report found their life expectancy to be 14.6 years lesser than that of an average higher caste woman. The case is similar for women with disabilities, alternative sexualities, or a Muslim woman seeking alimony in case of triple talaq.
The oppression they face is not just the addition of both oppressions, but rather their multiplication. So, what can we do to become intersectional feminists? For starters, take a step back and check your privilege. We too come from a place of privilege and we know it can be hard to confront your biases, but it’s only a minor inconvenience in the bigger picture. Educate yourself and read about the history of oppression, a little awareness can work wonders and lastly, help the oppressed speak up, amplify their voices and don’t try to speak over them. Remember, it cannot be feminism if it is not intersectional!
Watch the full video here.