The Year of Intersectionality and Persistence
This year’s theme for National Women’s History Month embodies two important messages that pertain to feminism and daily life. The theme is called “Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,” and the rhetoric used to present the theme stresses persistence, determination, and intersectionality in feminism.
On the National Women’s History Project website, nwhp.org, the organizers of the 2018 theme and honorees talk about two qualities of successful feminism that can be read as important messages for our daily lives. The first, is having an understanding of the intersections of discrimination that women face and actively combatting discrimination with intersectionality in mind. The second, is always maintaining persistence and determination.
The reason intersectionality is so important is that women are not all the same race, all the same age, all of the same religious background, all of the same sexual orientation, and so on. And yet, they all deserve equal rights and they all deserve to be fought for. In her essay “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” Audre Lorde states, “As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change.” Each of our differences cause us to experience discrimination as women differently. For some of us, sexual orientation or racial identity cause us to suffer double, even triple discrimination. What Audre Lorde stresses in her essay is that, we cannot view these differences we posses as women as forces that separate us and make our causes different. But we also must acknowledge these differences and make sure that we are addressing them in our fight towards a collective equality for women.
Lorde also writes, “Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” What Lorde points out in her essay and what the organizers of the National Women’s History Month theme highlight is that we must stand together as women and not consider ourselves as individuals in our own feminist causes. And naturally, standing together as a whole means that our differences as women will become apparent, and they must be addressed. Starting with this women’s month and on, our goals should be to make sure we are constantly adding intersectionality to our feminism and to remember that honoring our differences as women is what makes us strong.
The second message the National Women’s History Project website presents in this year’s theme is persistence. The honorees are all women who went through hardships but ended up doing amazing things because they pushed through with strength and determination. This message is important to keep in mind when facing any of lives obstacles—whether they be gender discrimination, problems with our health, issues with relationships in our lives, etc. Persistence is key when facing any hardships, and I think pairing this theme with the importance of intersectionality was a strong move on the part of the organizers of the National Women’s History Project. These themes are especially powerful in a world where the fight to mend race relations and promote religious tolerance is more vigorous day by day, and more and more women are coming forward to present their struggles against sexual abuse with the #MeToo movement and so on.
The messages portrayed by this year’s Women’s History Month theme encourage me to embrace intersectionality in my feminism and remain persistent—not only in my fight against gender oppression—but also in all hardships that I face.