Community & Government

Unpacking the F-Word

Gloria emphasizes the importance of intersectional feminism and dispels the notion that the movement is mostly white.

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Topics include: Unpacking the F-Word Breaking Down Intersectionality Decentering White Feminism


- You don't have to call yourself a feminist to believe in gender equality. If we weren't coming out of a long patriarchal racist period, you wouldn't need the word "feminist" at all. It would be assumed. [MUSIC PLAYING] Certainly, many more do identify as feminists now than ever before. In the earlier days-- say, the '60s or '70s-- the word "feminist" was confused with being man-hating, or everybody who was a feminist was a lesbian. There were many people devoted to demonizing the word. - Among the multitude of causes in this cause-ridden age, one that has not-- to me at least-- made its case is women's lib. - You don't see as much of Gloria Steinem as we used to in the media and around the country. And I think I hear some of you saying that's good. - Sure, the homosexuals are sincere. The women's libbers are sincere. But they want to change the supreme law of our land. GLORIA STEINEM: There was vast confusion about the word. So we just sent everybody to the dictionary and said a feminist is just someone who believes in the full humanity of all people, regardless of race, of sex, of gender, of class. That's it. CROWD: 2, 4, 6, 8-- GLORIA STEINEM: Feminism is about women mainly, but it's for absolutely everyone. And it's a way of challenging a division that should not exist. I'm grateful now that non-binary people are challenging the whole thing, which is a huge advance, and doing it by living it. CROWD: I scream! - Liberation and freedom looks like you and me. We will not allow for any systems to continually brutalize, to demonize, to continue to criminalize the most marginalized people. GLORIA STEINEM: So however it is that we do it in our lives, we are all contributing to being able to see each other as unique and also universally human. [MUSIC PLAYING] The great virtue of the term "intersectionality" is that it allows us to envision many things coming together in one place. So it allows us to discuss the intersection of race, of gender, of class. It is a term that allows us to see those vectors coming together and therefore better to understand each unique situation. And we owe that to Kim Crenshaw. - We're not only subject to racism. But we experience racism as women. And not only do we experience sexism, but we experience sexism as Blacks. And for many of us, not only do we experience poverty but we experience poverty as women and poverty as Blacks. So all of those convergences mean, number one, that the certain material conditions of our lives are frequently different from the material circumstances of other people who share one factor with us, such as race or class or gender. GLORIA STEINEM: It's also talking about ableism. - I was learning that we needed to fight back people's view that if you had a disability you needed to be cured, that equality was not part of the equation. And we were learning from the civil rights movement and from...

About the Instructor

Women’s rights activists and political changemakers Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen know there’s strength in numbers—especially in the fight for equality. Now, they’re coming together to dissect the issues women have faced in the U.S., talk about their advocacy efforts and personal challenges, and introduce ways you can play an active role in the feminist movement in your everyday life.

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Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen

Four women’s rights activists discuss the feminist movement in the U.S., ways they’re creating change, and how you can join the fight for equality.

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