Here’s Why Feminism, Intersectionality & Rowan Blanchard’s Comments On Both Are Important

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There has been a lot of talk about actress Rowan Blanchard’s views on feminism lately. We already know this dynamic young woman is a proud advocate of gender equality after giving a thoughtful and intelligent speech for UN Women a few months ago. Her point about equality was that now we have reached a point in American history where gay marriage has become legal in all 50 states, what about gender equality? FYI, we have yet to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution, so yeah there’s that…

But back to feminism and Rowan Blanchard. On August 22nd, She posted three shot essays on her Instagram account about the definition and importance of intersectionality and feminism. She shared her thoughts after a fan asked her about “white feminism” and how it has possibly excluded women of color and queer women in the greater conversation. Here’s how the conversation went down:

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Because of this many media outlets couldn’t get enough of the very well-thought out and passionate remarks by the star of Disney Channel’s ‘Girl Meets World’.

Jessica Valenti at the Guardian wrote a great piece about how it is about time we started paying attention to the words and actions of the younger generation of feminists.

“A new generation of young feminists who came of age online are tremendously more informed than their internet-less predecessors,” she wrote, adding that it is time we give these young women more credit for what they are contributing to the greater conversation about feminism. It’s not just young celebrities either, we’d like to point out. There are many young men and women who are pounding the pavement and raising their voices on social media to further the cause for equality.

What’s important overall is that we acknowledge what an impact they are making.

“We should continue to applaud young and teenage feminists who are speaking out about complicated and serious issues. But let’s not not treat them as anomalies. They’re representative of younger people – both men and women – who care about social and political justice. They’re younger than we are, they’re smarter than we were, and they’re certainly more informed. So lets…focus on what we can learn from what will certainly be the most brilliant feminist generation,” concluded Jessica in her article.

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In another op-ed for entertainment website For Harriet, queer freelance journalist Barbara Gonzalez shared a different point of view about all the attention Rowan was getting for her comments. She believes Rowan shouldn’t be hailed as a revolutionary simply because she is a celebrity and because of the people she cited. Barbara argued that the women Rowan actually cited in her short essays are the real heroes of feminism and intersectionality.

“Revolutionary is Bree Newsome scaling a 30-foot pole in front of the South Carolina state capitol and removing a flag that represents the epitome of white supremacy. Willow Smith is revolutionary for her ideas on how one should live their life different from the patriarchal, sexist ways we are accustomed to. Aliza Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometti, the founders of #BlackLivesMatter are revolutionary for giving name to a movement that has sparked the most racial controversy to date since the Civil Rights movement,” she wrote.

She wasn’t slighting Rowan in any way, she is simply making the point that more emphasis needs to be put on the women the actress mentions. That is where intersectionality starts, and the media making more of a deal about the Disney star kinda misses the point.

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However, from where we stand, the fact that it is opening up dialog about a vital component of modern day feminism is a great start! We need to talk about how queer women, and women of color deal with inequality, sexism and misogyny different to that of white, straight women. If feminism is to be effective, it needs to understand the variety of experiences in order to find ways to tackle the problem.

Barbara Gonzalez also argues, in the same line of thought as Jessica Valenti, that it shouldn’t be such a shock that someone as young as Rowan could be so enlightened about this issue. If we start giving more women credit for their voices and experiences, perhaps intersectionality wouldn’t be so hard to understand.

“We need more young women in this world like Rowan Blanchard; this is a crucial fact that goes without saying. However, we also need to start listening to young Black and brown women before we miss out on what is truly revolutionary,” concluded Barbara on For Harriet, adding that feminism shouldn’t be used as click bait for certain media websites.

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The focus shouldn’t be on Rowan alone, but because of her elevated platform as a celebrity, it is not a bad thing that so many of her fans are reading her words. As she mentioned the work of Columbia Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who first coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989 as well as actress Amandla Stenberg who has been vocal in the past about cultural appropriation and black lives matter, she is giving a whole new generation of people the chance to be introduced to heroes and role models and get informed about a topic that needs more allies than naysayers.

We should also point out there is a collective conversation about intersectionality in the media, and we think there are more and more people understanding how LGBTQ issues, racism and other inequalities are part of the feminism struggle today. The two videos below which have have gotten a fair amount of attention recently are proof that although the concept of intersectionality may still be confusing or foreign to some people, through our dialog and critical thinking skills developed while absorbing our current social issues we are coming to a better understanding.

The truth is, although Barbara Gonzalez at For Harriet may be a little miffed at the attention she is getting (PS we love her piece and love her for what she wrote – no hate towards Barbara from us!), we NEED voices like Rowan Blanchard. Celebrities are such powerful influencers today and if they can use their voices to point to people like Kimberle Crenshaw, that is a good thing!

Just like intersectionality allows us a deeper knowledge of the struggles of different groups of men and women, let’s not forget that feminism is all about including and respecting the different voices.