What makes a feminist in 2020?
We asked feminists all over the world to share their views on what we think are some of the crucial questions that we should be debating right now. The feminist movement is broad, diverse and sometimes divided. Is that a good or a bad thing? Please, share your opinion with us and your fellow feminists.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND DISREGARD ABLEISM IN YOUR POLITICS?
Yes, because I believe ableism is separate to gender equality.
No, especially because disabled people face some of the worst rates of sexual assault and some of the worst effects of austerity, which are issues many feminists are working against.
Yes, I think so. As important as intersectional analysis is, I think that you can still be a feminist and not be all-knowing. You might say you are a ‘better’ or more sophisticated feminist (or even person) if you are also well informed, knowledgeable and aware of different degrees of ability in your political views, but I don’t think it discredits you to the degree that you cannot be called a feminist if you do not have this kind of analysis.
I don’t think that you can be feminist and disregard ableism. Although the main goal of feminism is gender equality, you can’t ignore another minority being discriminated against. There are a lot of disabled women and a feminist would want equality for these women too. Feminism isn’t just for non-disabled women. It’s for every women (and actually not just for women but for men and people who identify as neither male nor female too. Feminism means equality for everyone).
In my opinion, feminism isn’t just a single-minded movement or ideology about gender and sex. It is an all-encompassing movement, a way of thinking and a process that seeks to improve society on all fronts. It is only in the past twenty or thirty years or so that people with “disabilities”, physical or mental, have been able to publicly display themselves without being ostracised or ridiculed. And still in some countries it is difficult. For many feminists, ableism is built in to our language and way of thinking because that is how we’ve been conditioned, even if we live with a disability ourselves and don’t intend to be malicious. Confronting ableism is the next big hurdle in society and discourse.
We always have to be aware of ableism. Disregarding ableism is a luxury reserved for those who are able-bodied. If we don’t listen to those who are marginalised in different ways from ourselves, then who are we to ask to be heard? If we are not intersectional, we are nothing.
Ableism and the discussions around ability are manifestly gendered. Therefore, disregarding ableism in your own politics is to disregard your participation in gendered oppression. This, for me, seems necessarily opposed to the very foundations of what it means to be a feminist.
No. An essential component of intersectional feminism involves considering multilayered and overlapping facets of identity that affect how people experience the world and inform any discrimination they might face. To disregard how people with disabilities might be discriminated against is to exclude is to exclude a significant portion of womxn from your practice/view of feminism. I don’t believe you can be a feminist by contemporary and intersectional standards if you do not advocate for those who do not share your identity, views and abilities.
Illustration by Svenja Heutelbeck