Feminism began as a movement to promote equality between women and men. Mary Wollstonecraft is considered the first feminist philosopher and many female novelists of the 19th century wrote about women’s lives and the challenges women face due to societal barriers to equality (Jane Austen being one famous example of such a writer).
At a collective level feminism kicked off in the 18th and 19th century through the women’s suffrage movement which focused on the right to vote, as well as social reform and reproductive rights.
The second wave of feminism occurred between the 1960s and 80s and focused on equal pay for equal work, violence against women, the commodification and objectification of women’s bodies, the harm caused by pornography, and legislative protections around sexual harassment and reproductive rights.
There’s some debate about whether there was then a third and fourth wave or whether it’s all one wave. The biggest shift we’ve seen relates to the move from feminism being focused on providing equal opportunities for women, to liberation from oppression for all. Women of colour and lesbian woman in particular started to challenge feminism from at least the 1980s, arguing for intersectionality (where the patriarchy is understood not just as a system that oppresses women but part of a broader oppressive force which suppresses, amongst others, people of colour, the LGBTI community, and people with disabilities).
Is inequality that’s built into the systems in which we live and work. Systems which produce inequality even when the individuals within the system say they want something different.
So when a country is mired in systemic racism, even when one group of people aren’t consciously biased against another group of people, the second group is nevertheless at a disadvantage in relation to the first group.
You see this in Australia for example in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people who have much high rates of incarceration, much lower rates of educational attainment, much higher rates of diabetes, much lower rates of life expectancy, much greater levels of interaction with the child protection system, and less favourable employment outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians.
Patriarchies are communities which organise themselves around men; their needs, their values, their opinions. Men hold the power in patriarchal societies. Women are largely excluded from it.
Patriarchal archetypes™ are models, forms, images, and/or patterning that keep the patriarchy alive. There are a number of patriarchal archetypes™ that women are required to live up to in order to be viewed as ‘acceptable’ in patriarchal societies.
Internalised oppression occurs when someone has absorbed, and taken on as their own, the beliefs of the system they’re being oppressed by.
Internalised patriarchy for example, looks like a woman arguing that women aren’t as smart or capable as men and concludes that this is why there aren’t as many women in Parliament.
Internalised sexism looks like women reinforcing sexist statements and ideas about themselves and other women eg; when women use gendered insults against each other like ‘bitch’ or ‘slut’.
Internalised racism looks like people who are subjected to racism – Indigenous peoples and other people of colour for example – saying negative or demeaning things about themselves or their ethnic group, because of their ethnicity.
The doctrine that white people are inherently superior to all other races and therefore should be the dominant race in society.
Black feminist scholar Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in 1989. Also referred to as intersectional feminism, this is a branch of feminism which identifies how different aspects of social and political discrimination overlap with gender. It’s helps to understand how interlocking systems of power affect those who are most marginalised in society.
Linked to the notion of intersectionality above, kyriarchy was a term coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenzain in 1992 to describe a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission. It takes us well beyond this idea that you’re my oppressor and I’m your victim. It points to a far deeper complexity than that. One which accounts for context and holds that a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others.
A term coined by Dr Robin DeAngelo who referred to it as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.” Although this is spoken about specifically in relation to the fragility that’s connected to white privilege, I think (although am still investigating this) that all privileged people suffer the same fragility when their privilege is challenged.
Is a person whose sense of identity corresponds to the sex they were born. Transgender people having a sense of identity which does not correspond with the sex they were born with.
BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black and Indigenous People of Colour.
The diverse majority
A term coined by School of Visibility founder Samantha Nolan-Smith to:
- capture the diversity amongst what are usually termed ‘minority groups’,
- note that when brought together, ‘minority groups’ actually form a majority of the population, and
- challenge the assumption implicit in the use of the word ‘minority’ that such groups are somehow less than or not as important.
Non-binary and transgender individuals
A non-binary individual is someone who does not exclusively identify as either male or female. They may feel like they don’t identify with gender at all, or they may identify with both genders. Many non-binary people use the pronoun ‘they’ but that’s not exclusively true. Others use ‘he’ or ‘she’. It’s respectful to ask people what their preference is.
NB: being non-binary is not the same as transgender. Some transgender people may be non-binary, but most have a gender identity that is either male or female. Trans identity differs from cis identity in the sense that a trans person’s gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth. A cis person’s gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth.