Before I start my actual post, I’ll just say that I haven’t posted here for maybe a year or so, for personal reasons. I haven’t posted on any blog during that time. But I’m finally in a place and space where I can write again.
In the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking. Mostly about that phrase coined by Flavia Dzodan: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit“. Except that I’ve been modifying it to “My politics will be intersectional or it will be bullshit”.
And that’s it for me. A progressive/lefty movement that is not intersectional does not include me and is not something I can support. You can talk all you like about the economy and the 1% and the capitalist system and the environment and growing inequality, but if you can’t include an intersectional analysis into your description of the problem and into your solutions, then all that talk does not include me and will not be of any use to me. Flavia said it best: However, any movement, be it feminism or something else that demands that I ditch my overall intersectional lens is not a movement I consider worthy of my allegiance. It is a movement that is actively against me.
A left wing that doesn’t include human rights along with its desire for social justice, that can not include the disparate needs of a range of people, that can not recognise that much income disparity is actually a result of marginalisation and not the other way around, then it will languish.
If you don’t believe me, look at the results. Without the support of marginalised groups, left wing parties don’t succeed and left wing candidates don’t succeed. Not unless their target voters have enough of a homogenous majority who will identify with or be inspired by a progressive. There aren’t so many of these kind of voter groups anymore. There will be even less going into the future.
Intersectionality is now a must. The ability not only to engage with a diverse range of people, but to do so in a way that is meaningful, that has some integrity, and that is built up over the long-term, this ability is not optional any more. The first and second presidential elections won by Obama showed us that and Super Tuesday has shown us that. That people look beyond economic issues is a given, because no party or candidate wins purely on the economy. The right will put out that they are better economic managers, but they actually win on dog-whistles, distractions, ridicule, and pushing the buttons on social issues that create fear. Fear of nanny state, fear of foreigners, fear of your money being taken by a greedy government who will spend it on lazy bludgers, fear of crime, fear, fear fear.
Obama campaigned on hope and won. People are not only looking for hope, they are looking for inclusion. They are looking for someone who actually understands the shit they face in their every day lives, the stuff that is small and cumulative and beats you down, day after dreary day. Someone who understands the barriers, who understands and listens and doesn’t tell you to stop your whining and stop complaining about the small stuff because it interferes with their interpretation of the bigger picture. Someone who understands that struggling with money is shit, but it’s also shit to be alone and excluded and shut out and harassed and attacked, and sometimes killed because of who you are.
So that’s me and that’s what I’m struggling with in my mind today. I can’t support a movement that doesn’t incorporate intersectionality. And though they might not express it in exactly those words, I suspect a lot of people feel the same.