On Friday 23, 2018, the executive Director of Girls Justice League, Charlotte Jacobs, with the help of some of our members, facilitated a workshop called “#SayHerName & The Fight for Intersectional Feminism” at The Graduate School of Education, located on University of Pennsylvania’s campus. The purpose of this workshop was to stress the importance of inclusion of not only white women in the fight for equality, but women of color, disabled women, trans women, poor women, women of different religious backgrounds, and all women and femmes without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and anything in between.
For the purpose of this workshop, feminism was defined as the political, economic, and social equity of the sexes. Intersectionality was defined as the layers of identity and their relationship to power. In the words of Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait” can be answered through this Bell Hooks quote;
“When black people are talked about, sexism militates against the acknowledgement of the interests of black women; when women are talked about racism militates against a recognition of black female interests. When black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on white women.”
#Sayhername was broken down into 6 segments, first community agreements, next key terms related to intersectional feminism, followed by an introduction to the #sayhername movement, then a discussion on what different types of feminism has looked like throughout history, and finally it concluded with a discussion surrounding what people can do everyday as acts of resistance.
“I appreciate having a name to describe something I’ve felt my whole life.” Tinuke, Student at University of Pennsylvania
The girls elaborated that without intersectional feminism, people are forced to choose one aspect of their identity and prioritize that. This can lead to problematic movements that leave out underrepresented groups, such as the women’s suffrage movement of the early 1900’s, the feminist movement 1970’s, the #MeToo movement, and Barack Obama’s grant making initiative My Brother’s Keeper, which excluded girls, trans, and gender non conforming youth. All of these are NOT examples of intersectional feminism and further harm marginalized groups because their voices are silenced and their stories are erased.
As a reaction to the lack of awareness for the police brutality faced by black women and gender nonconforming folks, Kimberlé Crenshaw created the #Sayhername movement. It’s designed to lift up the names of trans women of color. This is an example of an intersectional movement because it focused on both racial identity and gender and the ways in which those factors interact with each other.
“When we put forth the most marginalized people first, everyone benefits.” Nyazia, 18
In 2018, Girls Justice League is hoping to continue to grow even more intersectional by becoming clearer in our mission, better supporting disabled and neurodivergent girls and femmes, and further develop organizational missions surrounding sexual orientation and non-femme gender identities. GJL looks forward to a year full of growth and action. We invite you to participate in our Saturday and Summer Institute’s. Information regarding the Summer Institute application process will be available soon.
“Everyday is a victory.” Indiah, 20