#wcw | Feminist isn't a dirty word
My journey into feminism and what intersectionality means to me
It's a Thursday night. I'm exhausted from working my day job, hustling to several auditions and meetings, running back uptown with just enough time to change and get back downtown for another first date. I arrive a few minutes early as usual and scope out the wine bar. I stand passively outside the entrance waiting for tonight's suitor. When he gets there we exchange our superficial hellos and sit at the table, both on our best behavior. By the time our food comes the formalities of small talk are complete and we're on the topic of feminism. When I uttered the least attractive words any strong, independent woman could speak to a Tinder predator clearly looking for sex and an affirmation that he's a "nice guy," I knew there would not be a second date. Quite frankly, I didn't care. This date was not unlike many others I had chosen to endure that month. After being in a serious relationship for much of my adult life, I decided to try casual dating to see if it was all it was cracked up to be. Quickly, I realized it in fact was just as miserable as every film or TV show about twenty-something singles in New York depicted, and in turn I had started using these somewhat pointless dates to spread some "wokeness" to the average Tinder f-boy.
In doing so, I had a lot of time and practice in verbalizing what I believe it means to be a feminist. My personal journey in being a feminist has been gradual. Growing up in a traditional, small-town where the population is mostly white, mostly straight, mostly conservative, the importance of feminism did not come to realization for me until college. When I moved to New York City at eighteen, and met a rainbow of people completely different from me in regards to race, religion, sexuality, etc, etc, I started to care more about the progression of my rights, the right's of my future daughters and granddaughters, and more importantly the rights of people different from me. I started viewing myself as a global citizen as opposed to a member of a private clan and that has made all of the difference in understanding what feminism really means.
We need intersectional feminism now more than ever. I have friends who are geniuses at human rights and who could explain it much better than me, but to me, it boils down to something simple: respect. At the end of the day, you are going to be more invested in the progression of you and your kin. In doing so, it may seem like a wrong-doing when some of your "freedoms" are taken away or sacrificed for the well-being of another group of people; but, if you look at the other group like it's your family or kin, wouldn't you think differently? For instance, when I think back to a few years ago when some of the most committed, wonderful couples I knew could not do something as simple as say "yes, forever" and have it recognized by law, I thought about what it would be like if I couldn't marry the person I love. When I think about immigrants in turmoil, I remember how 58 years ago, my grandparents were able to safely immigrate from Cuba to flee Castro. Simply, if one respects the basic rights of people other than one's own, one will come to understand the institution intersectional feminism and hopefully even advocate for it.
I am sometimes ashamed that my understanding of human rights had to come in baby steps and in such an ego-centric manner, but now that I truly understand that we can make everyone's existence just and fair without sacrificing "freedoms" but "privileges," I also understand why minorities need to help minorities. Though I am Hispanic and identify as such, because I look Caucasian, my experience has been different. As a woman, I am a minority, but by being a Caucasian woman, there are certain privileges I have been given just based upon the way society is structured and in turn, I feel responsible for using my voice to help not only women but also other groups that are marginalized. I do so because I believe that every human should benefit from the same rights. I do so because I only know a small piece of who my children will be. I know they will be a quarter Cuban, an eighth Italian, and bits of Irish, Danish, and Scottish. I don't know what the other half of their DNA will be. I do not know what gender they will identify as, what their sexuality will be, or what religion they will find their faith in. I do not know what obstacles they will face and so in turn, I find it my responsibility to make the world a better place for not only 5'2″ Caucasian-looking half-Hispanic women, but for every human.