There’s a lot being said and, I’m sure, a lot more that will be said on intersectionality within feminism (good); its misunderstanding and mispresentation (bad); and the fact that while intersectionality may be an off-putting term to use, it’s not that hard to understand because for many women (hell, and men) it constitutes lived experience. I write for Bad Reputation in part because we strive to “do” intersectionality all the time, although I don’t think we overuse the word. Intersectionality in part, for me, is about recognising that people have it tough even if they aren’t you. I’m just going to add this.
A frustrating number of arguments against ‘academic/middle-class feminism’ and for ‘populist, accessible feminism’ seem to hinge on a false dichotomy, presenting women outside academia and/or the middle classes as exclusively focused on material issues because that’s all their working-class, comprehensive-schooled brains can cope with, with middle-class women obliged to condescendingly lower their expectations when dealing with such exotic creatures. So, in this model, women are either empowered and oblivious high-theory feminists, or they’re Vicky Pollard. This erases any number of valid and complex identities.
As a comprehensive schoolgirl whose educational trajectory has gradually removed me from the context in which I grew up, but not eradicated my affinity with it, part of my attraction to feminism – as to other ideologies of emancipation – was the chance it offered to analyse and articulate my own experience. I wasn’t intellectually incapable of doing so, nor did I need any condescending interventions from above to explain things in short words. I’d just ask this: please stop using ‘working-class’ as a synonym for ‘uneducated’, ‘uneducatable’, and/or ‘unable to deal with complicated concepts’. Just stop it. It’s inaccurate, it’s condescending, and it’s really unhelpful both to feminism and to most everything else. We should all be thinking harder.