Bits & Bobs On Feminist Theory #9: Feminism vs. Womanism

I used to think of womanism as an off-shoot of feminism. It was a separatist movement that split from the whole as a way to create a space that better catered to the needs of non-white women; specifically black women.

Now I think it makes more sense to view feminism as a subset of womanism. "Mainstream" feminism largely deals with the particular issues that cis/het, able-bodies white women face, and nothing more. That is not an inclusive movement.

I used to think that something couldn't BE feminist unless it was intersectional. Now I realize that feminism largely isn't intersectional on purpose, which is why womanism was born. If you create a feminist space and fail to include women of colour, trans* women, genderqueer women, immigrant women, disabled women or low income women etc, and continue to exclusively pander to cis/het able-bodied white women, you are making a very deliberate statement about who your feminism is for. I do not want feminism that is not intersectional.

Womanism is to me, the preferable movement, because it acknowledges that different women have different issues depending on their circumstances. It acknowledges that oppression is not a single issue struggle, but a complex intersection of varying degrees of disprivilege. Basically, it recognizes the individuality of your struggle, and finds a place for you anyway. It does not try to limit your issues or your life into a neat narrative of oppression.

So do I want a movement that loves me in name only? Or a movement that actively tries to combat the oppressions I face?