Spark Post: Solidarity, Binaries, and Intersectionalities

“Our community needs conversations that explicitly demonstrate how the struggles of Asian, Latina and other women who fall outside the black-white binary are inextricably linked with the oppression of others.”

I read this article called “Feminism and Race: Just Who Counts As A ‘Woman of Color’?” The author recognized that there is a movement towards a more inclusive, multiracial feminism. However, as an Asian-American woman, she has complex feelings about race and feminism since she does not know where she belongs. People often do not consider Asian (and other) women to be “women of color,” and instead think in binaries of black and white. Just as thinking about gender as only male or female has negative implications for those who do not fit neatly into one gender or the other, thinking about race in terms of black and white hampers women who are neither to feel marginalized in feminist circles.

This connects to Bell Hooks’ idea that women have been unable to achieve solidarity based on their gender due to their differences in other aspects of their identity, such as race. This article makes me wonder, does your gender or your race play a bigger part in your identity? Which do you associate with more?

I identify more with being Asian-American than with being female. While both groups are oppressed, my experiences as “The Other” have always seemed to stem from my race more so than my gender: people with racist stereotypes have assumed that I’m not American, can’t speak English, practice martial arts, etc. Many women have experienced getting cat called when they walk home at night. Many times on Penn’s campus, men have said, “Ni hao,” “Anyeonghaseyo,” and “Konichiwa” to me, as if my being Asian is an invitation for them to try out every Asian language they know. This infuriating experience is unique to Asian women, and is an example of oppression that I had always attributed to my race rather than my gender, even though both contribute to others treating me this way.

Before this course, I never felt a connection to the feminist movement. I think this is because oppression related to my race has overshadowed oppression related to my gender, causing me to see myself as an Asian-American first and foremost, and as a woman secondarily. Do you associate more with your race or your gender, or do you think it’s possible to identify equally with both? How do the different aspects of your identity interact to form your relationship with feminism?

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