by J. Skyler
There is a hard truth that mainstream feminism consistently fails to rectify: it has historically failed a significant number of women. Exit polls from the 2016 US presidential election revealed that at least 53% of White women voted for Donald Trump, quite vividly confirming a bias that women of color have been vocal about for centuries: that womanhood is not a monolith and given the choice, White women will typically prioritize their racial privilege over gender equality. This harkens all the way back to the days Suffragette Movement of the early 19th century, when white women actively and in some cases fervently attempted to bar Black women from participating. Nonetheless, Black women persisted and as Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women: Global Women’s Issues and Knowledge (2004) explains “by the 1980s, the term feminism became increasingly identified with black women’s struggles” citing the work of writers and activists such as Angela Davis, Toni Cade, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange and Alice Walker. If we are to come to an understanding about anything during Women’s History Month this year in light of Trumps presidency, it should be that feminism has always required an intersectional approach, perhaps now more than ever.
The concept of “intersectionality” was developed by legal scholar and critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw to articulate how Black women in America are disproportionately affected by institutional biases in our justice system. Unsurprisingly, numerous White and other non-Black feminists have incorporated the term into their personal vocabulary, proudly displaying it across numerous social media accounts without understanding the basis of its framework or knowing the name of the Black woman responsible for it. It should go without saying but often bears repeating that if your feminism cannot center Black women, it cannot by definition be intersectional.
Those who actively criticized Trump throughout his presidential campaign were understandably mortified at the idea of coming together alongside those who actually voted for him to participate in the Women’s March earlier this year. Many found it suspect that their condemnation of Trump came only after his comments regarding sexual assault—not during his numerous ableist, islamophobic and racist tirades—and still gave him their vote. The most infuriating aspect of being expected to set aside grievances with these women is that they are unlikely to face the worst consequences of his executive orders.
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It is Black and Indigenous women who have been and will continue to be disproportionately targeted by law enforcement during protests and demonstrations across the country. It is Indigenous women who will most likely suffer the consequences of environmental disaster with the completion of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. It is undocumented women who are being ripped from the arms of their loved ones by the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is refugee women being denied entry into the US. It is Black trans women who are being murdered at genocidal rates. It is disabled Black and Indigenous women who are most likely to face death following the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
One glaring commonality among these groups of women is the depth and magnitude of economic violence they suffer as a result of these actions. Also known as financial abuse, economic violence refers to state and federal policies as well as interpersonal experiences—especially as a result of intimate partner violence—that undermine financial security. Alice Walker wrote in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose (2004) that “without money of one’s own in a capitalist society, there is no such thing as independence.” As such, our conversations concerning economic violence against women cannot be restricted to wage gaps under traditional employment structures, which undocumented, disabled and/or transgender women and others may not have access to in the first place. As bell hooks states, “[o]ne of the basic differences in perspective between the bourgeois woman and the working-class or poor woman is that the latter knows that being discriminated against or exploited because one is female may be painful and dehumanizing, but it may not be as painful, dehumanizing, or threatening as being without food or shelter, as starvation, as being deathly ill but unable to obtain medical care” (2000, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center). Under the Trump administration, those without access to traditional financial structures will be that much more vulnerable to poverty, abuse, neglect and death.
The questions remains, how do we incorporate economic justice into everyday resistance considering we still have years left under the current administration and policy changes (assuming they are attainable in the first place) can take decades? What do we do when we know that even under the most ideal circumstances, nonprofits can’t possibly help every single person in dire straits?
In response to these questions, the hashtag #FemCrowdFund was conceived with the idea of combating economic violence with a radical redistribution of wealth via social media. Like its predecessor #TransCrowdFund and sister tag #DisabilityCrowdFund, it encourages women in need of immediate monetary relief to tag their social media and mobile payment accounts—Paypal, Square Cash, crowdfunding campaigns, etc—in order to solicit funds while simultaneously encouraging those with class and financial privilege to seek out individuals to donate to on a regular basis (similar tags to consider utilizing or following are the #SJWishlists created by Twitter user @erabrand and #SocialJusticeOClock by @myopiabillson). $5-25 out of every paycheck multiplied by hundreds to thousands of people donating directly to individuals will literally save lives.
While available for any and all women to use, #FemCrowdFund takes an intersectional approach by centering those living with multiple axes of oppression: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Arab, Middle-Eastern, Asian, Pacific Islander, Muslim, Jewish, refugee, undocumented, disabled, transgender, intersex, lesbian, bisexual and asexual. The tag can be used to signal boost requests for funds ranging anywhere from replacing a broken cell phone or computer to hiring legal representation to securing venture capital for entrepreneurial endeavors to relocating domestic abuse survivors and anything in between. The digital age has made it possible for the redistribution of wealth to happen at a much more rapid pace alongside structural change, a life-saving opportunity for those who cannot afford to wait for the law to catch up to their individual lives. If women of privilege and affluence who find themselves regretting their vote truly want to #ResistTrump, their first course of action should be to open their purse strings for those severely impacted by his administration.
J. Skyler is an author, activist and public speaker on gender and sexual diversity in culture, politics, race, feminism and representation in media. Their work is featured at ComicBookBin, Comicosity, ComicsAlliance and in Cinema Journal and The Black Youth Project.
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