Be a Revolution: Exploring Intersectional Feminism

Navigating the intersection of race and gender is necessary for true equality.

Be a Revolution: Exploring Intersectional Feminism (Getty Images)

Content warning: This article touches on the topic of sexual violence. Please read and proceed with caution. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, help is available. For immediate support, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-4673, available 24/7 and completely confidential.

In an era marked by increasing online debates, feminism is a beacon of empowerment and inclusivity for many, yet others question its very existence.

Gen Z’s views about feminism are regressing compared to previous generations, suggesting a step backward in gender equity. A recent study from King’s College London’s Policy Institute shows that among men aged 16 to 29, only a small share of them (36%) believe feminism has done more good than harm to society. 

Young men are also more likely to agree that American-British social media personality Andrew Tate raises important points and real threats to male identity and gender roles.

While anti-feminism has existed in prior generations, it is without a doubt that its prevalence has grown tremendously in the 21st century. As one of the pillars of rising right-wing ideology, it is a dangerous and violent belief for women globally. 

In 2024, feminism is one of the most polarizing topics in America. According to ABC News, “A majority of Americans – 64% – say feminism is empowering and 42% say it’s inclusive. However, 45% say it is polarizing and 30% say it’s outdated.”

Historically, feminist movements have centered on white, heteronormative, able-bodied women and exclusively defined women’s issues through that lens. However, as the U.S. grows more diverse, one thing is made clear — we need a new kind of feminism.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 not only disenfranchised women but also put other minorities at risk. The reduction of reproduction rights also unfairly harms low-income and BIPOC communities. Women forced to carry a baby to term are more likely to be in poverty and experience long-term financial distress afterward, research from a 2020 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes.

Black transgender women have been at the forefront of fighting for women's rights, but time and time again, trans women disproportionately become victims of violence more often than their cisgender counterparts. 

Race and gender are always connected, which is why we need to look at both aspects when we see attacks on women in the news. Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor at the UCLA Law School and Colombia Law School, captures the idea that overlapping aspects of our identity determine the treatment we receive and how safe we feel in our everyday lives.

Ijeoma Oluo’s book, “Be A Revolution,” offers a chapter dedicated to the unique struggles of BIPOC women and how their bodily autonomy often gets stripped away from them. 
Sexual violence is prevalent in BIPOC communities, and Black women are disproportionately affected. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 5 Black women are survivors of rape. For every Black woman who reports rape, at least 15 Black women do not.

@thatbrownguurl We should feel safe enough to share our truth. We should feel supported enough to report our reality #sexualassaultawareness #blackwomen #plannedparenthood #istandwithblackwomen ♬ original sound - Xtina Brown 🇵🇸

Many cases of sexual violence, intimate partner abuse, and gender-based violence often go unreported for a variety of reasons. Oluo hypothesized that racism and xenophobia can increase the isolation one can feel from that event. 

By society’s patriarchal standards, abuse is something to keep quiet about, to be ashamed of. One of the most resonant teachings in “Be a Revolution” is that the white cis-male patriarchy works to oppress and silence women of color.

How do we address these challenges? Many people see issues of gender-based violence and racism and are lost on how to tackle these problems. These are both very complex issues, but I promise if we all focus on doing our part, we can achieve justice, liberation, and love.

We need to be mindful of the different layers of discrimination a person can face and amplify BIPOC women’s voices when they talk about issues that affect them. Educate yourself about topics relating to gender justice and hear from a variety of perspectives with care.

Women’s rights are an intersectional cause. We cannot continue to center white women and say that we are making strides in modern feminism. Tangible change is possible once you break out of your bubble and recognize those that are most affected — queer and trans communities and BIPOC women. 

In the words of Oluo, “Our liberation will be collective or it will not exist at all.”


Knives Nguyen (they/he/she), is a journalist from the Bay Area who covers entertainment, culture and student life. You can connect with them on LinkedIn: @knivesnguyen.

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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