Feminist Intersection: So when does an issue become feminist?

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee, originally published at Bitch


We’ve all heard about the continuous saga of human rights violations in Arizona, from legalizing racial profiling, to eliminating ethnic studies, to preventing anyone with an “accent” from teaching English (read: anyone who doesn’t sound like an old white man from the eastern/northern states since I’m pretty sure we ALL have accents) and this extremely racist, oppressive, colonial, and cultural genocide list goes on.

What’s been happening in Arizona is horrific on so many levels to so many people and communities – but it has really had me reflecting. When do certain issues get considered “feminist” and when do they not? And when do they require a real feminist response in action?

There have been several excellent female responses to the situation in Arizona by way of intersecting the impacts to women and children, sexuality, and even religion (read all of the amazing stuff the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is posting here), yet so much of the mainstream media we’ve been hearing is of course way too predictably patriarchal in nature; people making excuses for enacting racist legislation, utilizing fear-based tactics to legitimize white supremacy to “protect” the women and children, etc., etc.

So here I am responding to it and asking you frankly: Does an issue have to have an identified or presenting woman involved to truly be considered feminist? When abortion rights are threatened, we’re out in the masses online and offline to protect them repeatedly, blog post after Facebook link, clinic defense after pro-choice club initiation, without question – and we certainly come together on it even if we disagree on tactics.

But what about when status, documentation, skin color, ethnicity, and culture are threatened? What’s our feminist response to this? And how much or to what degree are we going to mobilize and do something the same way we would if the usual suspects (like sexual/reproductive health) came into play? (And no, I don’t mean, “Oh look at this one blog post here on a feminist site about this” – I mean the same amount of feminist response that you would see on other issues. You know what I mean).

Or are we again going to leave this to the so-called “ethnic” groups to deal with?

Editor’s Note: Jessica originally wrote this piece for a feminist website, so she is addressing this to a feminist audience. – LDP