Most people these days agree that gender equality- and feminism- are vibrant concepts that are helping to catapult society into the best quality future. What most people struggle to remember is the importance of intersectional feminism. This is basically the idea that when advocating for the equality and rights of a person, we should consider all intercepts of their identity. In the context of feminism, this means remembering to advocate for people who fall out of the mainstream constructs of feminism: white, straight cisgender women. Not that their problems aren’t valid, but intersectional feminism gently reminds us that fighting for different social groups should be a cornerstone of the moment.
Here is a starter guide to ensure that you can be as active as possible in fighting for your beliefs surrounding equality.
Promote call in, not call out culture
If you have a friend that makes a casually racist comment, or says something that may offend a particular group of people, it can be hard to know what to say in order to manage the situation in a way that doesn’t sour the day, whilst still communicating the message. An easy social technique that you can do in your day to day life is to call the wrong-doing friend in, not out. By this, I mean instead of telling them of their wrongdoing in front of the whole group without warning or explanation, pull them aside and use a different approach. Speak gently to them about what they did wrong, why it was wrong, and give them alternatives about what they can do instead of saying the wrong thing. By giving people alternative solutions in a private, non-embarrassing environment, they are more likely to take what you are saying on board.
Volunteer at abortion clinics
Defending a women’s right to her body in conversation is certainly a good step, but taking it a bit further could involve volunteering at a local abortion clinic. This involves being a listening ear for the women, escorting them to and from clinics and other services the clinics require. F
Don’t be a bystander, be a companion (especially when it comes combatting Islamophobia)
When it comes physical and verbal abuse in public, it tends to be marginalised groups who suffer the most. It can be a scary thing to experience, as a victim and as a bystander. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the power you have as a bystander to not speak up. Having assertion and conflict resolution strategies are a great way to ease the fear and intimidation one can feel when wanting to defend a victim of abuse.
Don’t assume someone’s gender.
In a world where gender is placed on a strict binary, one of the most simple, easy and polite ways to fight for equality for all genders is not to assume someone’s gender. It’s that simple. If you are unsure as to what they identify as, try to remember that they don’t owe anything to you in the way of signalling their gender identity (or lack thereof) via their physical appearance. Instead, politely what pronouns they prefer- he, she, or they for example.