Guest post: You cannot solve every problem all at once

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on Women deserve better:

The more I read this line, the more it bugs me.

Feminism is nothing without women of colour, migrant, disabled, queer, trans, Black and sex working women.

Feminism has included racists, xenophobes, eugenicists, homophobes etc… throughout its history.

And their bigotries did not render their calls for an end to gender inequality null, any more that MLK Jnr’s homophobia rendered his calls for racial equality null.

If you eliminated racism, xenophobia, homophobia etc… feminism would still have its place in fighting sexism.

To proclaim that feminism or any other social justice activism is “nothing without…” is an all or nothing fallacy that inherently demands a higher standard of behaviour from allies than you would demand from enemies.

You cannot solve every problem all at once, you can make progress by breaking problems up into manageable chunks. Pushing the feminist movement into being the everything movement inherently devalues feminism by removing its core idea from the discussion, and removing its focus.

And that is not to say that feminism is better without the listed groups, or that the various groups are wrong to organise or demand recognition from the feminist movement, but to point out that the core idea of gender equality is a thing in and of itself that can provide common ground to people of otherwise very different ideologies.

These people can work together within the context of feminism even if they don’t like each other very much outside of that context. This is how movements win, not by achieving a broad based intersectional agreement on all points, but agreement on a few points that allow majorities to develop behind them, allowing progress on those points.

By requiring agreement on all points, intersectionality minimises support for all points, thus slowing and even reversing progress on any given point.

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