Intersectionalities: Feminism, antimilitarism, ecology, anti-capitalism and veganism

Intersectionality is one of the important topics that recently the new generation activism and other movements are started to talk and we need to talk, discuss, and develop more on it for the future. When we talk about intersectionality and start to count the topics that intersects or analyse them we need to acknowledge that there is always many other topics that relate and all these topics have their own complexity in them. Starting with the feminist movement, it started as a social justice and woman-man equality movement. Later on, movements coming and discussing about identities started to question what is being woman or man or if lesbian, bisexual, trans woman was included to the identity of woman. Especially in relation to critical theory and queer theory, identities started to be criticized which was really important because the biologically determined understanding of woman in the feminist movement had been challenged during this process. Queer theory didn’t demolish feminist theory but added on it by criticizing. It is also important to see that queer theory and feminism are not intersectional but they are implicit to each other.

Capitalism is also seeing woman as a reproductive system and man as a soldier for the armies. From the examples, we can see that gay man and woman were not allowed to serve to the army in United States but their acceptance to the army later on is a good example of capitalism needing more soldiers for establishing power.

After briefly looking at glimpses of feminism, antimilitarism, and anti-capitalism, it’s good to mention Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. She is an African American feminist woman who made a speech in TED Talks about “the urgency of intersectionality”1; there, she mentions the Emma DeGraffenreid’s case, according to which Emma applied for a job but the employer didn’t hire her and she thought that she was discriminated against because of her race and gender. Emma was an African-American woman, a working wife and a mother and she sued the local car manufacturing plant. Judge dismissed Emma’s suit and claimed that the employer did hire African-Americans and also hired women for the plant. On the other hand, Crenshaw claimed that African- American males are hired where the man power is needed and the women that are hired were working in the secretary positions and they were white so that black women weren't allowed to work at the plant. Crenshaw tries to explain this case with a simple analogy which might allow the judge to better see Emma's dilemma and she explains:

“If we think about this intersection, the roads to the intersection would be the way that the workforce was structured by race and by gender. And then the traffic in those roads would be the hiring policies and the other practices that ran through those roads. Now, because Emma was both black and female, she was positioned precisely where those roads overlapped, experiencing the simultaneous impact of the company's gender and race traffic. The law -- the law is like that ambulance that shows up and is ready to treat Emma only if it can be shown that she was harmed on the race road or on the gender road but not where those roads intersected.”

Having this example in mind, I want to relate it to my own experience as a vegan anti-capitalist person in the left movement: being vegan or being left is separately okay but when you do say that you are both vegan and anti-capitalist I hear many comments about that veganism is capitalistic. Being both vegan and being part of the left movement leads to discrimination where a vegan might not be judged by a left person who would already think that veganism is already capitalistic. As well as when we talk about intersectionality most of the discourse is really anthropocentric. For example social justice is mainly talked about humans but there is an important link between feminism and veganism2. From my own experience, being discriminated because of my sexual orientation or expression, I started to question the system why this is happening which helped me to ask questions “why being gay is not normal?”, “why do we eat animals?”, “why women couldn’t vote in the past and had to fight for their rights?” etc. If we question all these things, it can help us to understand intersectionality. Intersectionality can help us to understand all the links but at the same time we need to understand that the struggle against the oppression is implicit and not separate from each other and each identity/struggle/case has its own complexity. When we start also questioning, there will be more issues added to these topics like ableism, slut shaming, body shaming… While we are acknowledging the new identities, it is also important to question the existing ones and try to be critical on them and try to understand them in their own conjectures. For example, being vegan in a developed country might not be a reason to be discriminated where it is in Cyprus and maybe it won’t be in the future. So that we need to take into consideration of the place, time, main actors and other parameters when we look at such issues. Another important thing is that if a person says that they are being discriminated it is important to listen to them and try to understand them even if they are just one person.


[1] [2] The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990) - Carol J. Adams