I don’t get it: Progressive feminism 101

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Words || Lydia Jupp

There are a million terms that are used in gender politics, and we most certainly don’t have time for them all, but here’s a few terms that you can whip out next time you’re having an argument with someone. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you know very basic terms like feminism, misogyny, misandry, cisgender, transgender, non-binary, and internalised misogyny.

INTERSECTIONALITY
First introduced to feminist theory by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectional theory takes into account the different identities one has, and how that shapes their overall experience. For example, black women and white women will never have the same experience of womanhood or sexism because the black woman also has her race as an influencing factor. Think of it as a bunch of streets, with the full intersectional experience existing where all the streets meet.

TONE POLICING
Essentially, the act of telling someone how to express themselves. This term isn’t just political, but it’s very much seen in situations where people get emotional, and their arguments are regarded as invalid as a result. It’s an attack on the character of the person producing the argument rather than the argument itself- an ad hominem if you’re fancy. For example, if I were to see Peter Dutton and I delivered a fantastic critique of his refugee policy that was laden with swear words, people might choose to focus on the fact that I called him a fucking bastard rather than the actual material of my words.

“WHITE FEMINISM”
“Feminists” who fail to see how important race is in feminism and gender equality. There is a very distinct difference between me being a feminist who is white, and a White Feminist – one is a descriptor, and one is a title, usually indicated by the use of the capitalisation of each word, sometimes with a TM after it. As the old saying goes, if your feminism is not intersectional, it isn’t realistically feminism. White Feminists are the sorts of people to claim feminism and girl power, but fail to acknowledge the importance of different lived experiences. IT IS ADVISABLE TO NOT PRACTICE “WHITE FEMINISM” BECAUSE THIS OFTEN EXCLUDES OTHER WOMEN.

TERF
Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Similar to White Feminists, they are not feminists because they are not intersectional. They believe that transgender women are not “real” women, and as such, all their actions are transphobic.

SWERF
Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Also not feminists. Sex work is real work, and one of the oldest industries in the world, and SWERFs believe that sex workers are exempt from feminism, as if they’ve given themselves over to some kind of dark side.