Intersectionality in Real Life

By Elroi J. Windsor

What is intersectionality, and what does it look like in real life?

Sociologist Zakiya Luna explored these questions as they relate to the national coalition, SisterSong. For this collective of reproductive justice advocates, intersectional praxis was more than putting diverse groups of people in rooms together for meetings and events. Luna’s research described activists working in coalitions where “constructing identities and alliances is an iterative, never-ending process.”The participants in this women of color collective had similar experiences based on belonging to marginalized race and gender groups. Yet they also experienced challenges in their work due to intragroup differences based on ethnicity, ability, and citizenship. For SisterSong, the practice of intersectionality in real life is “ongoing” and “multidimensional.” It’s not always easy, and even woke folks have learning to do.

In the last few weeks, I’ve asked students in my Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class questions about intersectional feminist praxis. We’ve been reading Black Girl Dangerous,by black queer writer Mia McKenzie, and thinking about how intersectional politics play out in everyday life. My students and I currently live in North Carolina, a state that has made national news this past year. Our time and place is ripe for some intersectional analysis and praxis. Continue reading “Intersectionality in Real Life”

LGBTQ and Feminist Activists Oppose “Bathroom Backlash”

By Heather McKee Hurwitz

The latest threats to feminist and LGBTQ movements are North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2) and a lawsuit by eleven states against the Obama administration’s guidelines to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice in school.

“Bathroom backlash,” such as HB2 and the lawsuit, oppose lesbian, gay, transgender, and contemporary feminist movements. Bathroom backlash attacks transgender persons’ rights, such as the widespread acceptance of transwomen Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, among many others. The tactics seek to limit transgender persons’ hard won legal gender reclassifications. Also, bathroom backlash undercuts advocacy by parents of transgender children for a safe educational experience for their children. In addition, HB2 and the lawsuit are backlash against the legalization of marriage equality that allows marriage between two people of any gender identity, instead of strictly defining marriage as between man and woman.

In contrast, feminists and LGBTQ activists value people of diverse gender and sexual identities and embrace the idea that gender identities should not be determined by assigned sex at birth. The majority of feminist organizations today advocate gender equality including transgender rights and support a range of lesbian and gay causes. Continue reading “LGBTQ and Feminist Activists Oppose “Bathroom Backlash””

Anti-LGBT Activism: Same As It Ever Was

By Tina Fetner

Mary Bernstein’s 2015 address in the June 29 (3) issue of Gender & Society asks “what is next?” for the LGBT movement, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. As someone who has studied the anti-LGBT activism of the religious right (Fetner, 2008), I would put Bernstein’s question to this movement as well: what will the religious right do now that they have lost their 20-year battle against same-sex marriage in the United States? Indeed, they have already begun a new wave of activism to marginalize LGBT people and deny these groups equal rights, and it looks very similar to their activism of the past.

Anita BryantIn 1977, Anita Bryant formed the first anti-gay organization to fight against equal rights for lesbians and gay men. She named her organization “Save Our Children,” and she claimed that gay men were sexual predators. The goal of gay activists, she argued, was to have access to children so that they could sexually abuse them and “recruit” them into the gay “lifestyle.” According to Bryant and other anti-gay activists of her era, LGBT anti-discrimination bills guaranteed access to children, mostly because they prevented schools from firing gay teachers. Bryant’s organization was on the forefront of anti-gay activism of the religious right, and from the start, this activism cultivated fear out of lies about sexual violence. Continue reading “Anti-LGBT Activism: Same As It Ever Was”