Okay, while I’m always willing to pass on what I know, I usually prefer if people ask, rather than demand :)
I guess to me, being an intersectional feminist is the simple matter of not being a douche bag. It’s about thinking about how your actions affect others, and how the words you say can either be inclusive of others, or exclusive. And you don’t want to be exclusive.
Here are some tips that I try to follow on Tumblr:
Follow a lot of blogs run by POC, particularly WOC and queer MOC. Many write posts regarding their experiences and the challenges they face. Read them. Don’t send them questions asking them to explain things to you, because they aren’t here to be your teachers. They’re here to have a safe space to write about their day, and they don’t need someone in their ask box asking to be educated about matters that are really important to them. I’ve seen many of them say that it’s mentally exhausting. So just read, and if you have a question—google is your friend.
If you see a post written by a POC (particularly WOC) pertaining to their struggles or their point of view regarding their own community, don’t jump in. It’s not your place. Especially if you have different views. I don’t know for certain, but going by your icon, you look white. Which is cool, but just know that your opinion in these matters means nothing. You don’t have the experience or the understanding to comprehend what they are talking about. And a huge problem of white feminism is talking over WOC and their experiences.
I’m not saying you can’t reblog their posts— you can, as long as they’ve signified they’re okay with that post being reblogged. But just know that the moment you put a post on your blog, you’re responsible for what your followers do with it. If one of your followers is super racist on the post, it’s your responsibility to shut that shit down. You’re the reason the OP is getting hate on their post from that person, and you need to make it right.
When criticizing men in the media for violence against women, or violent lyrics in music, consider who you are going after. If the only people you are attacking are Chris Brown and Tyler the Creator, consider why that is. Because even if you don’t think you’re being racist, if you’re giving passes to the likes of Sean Penn, John Lennon, Avenged Sevenfold, and Eminem, that’s a big problem.
When talking about the wage gap, keep in mind that the 77 cent figure only relates to white men and white women. The figures for WOC and MOC as related to white men are much lower.
DON’T compare any oppression you faced with things like slavery, lynchings, the Holocaust or anything like that.
Don’t culturally appropriate, or excuse/celebrate people who do.
Cissexism & Heterosexism
Acknowledge the existence of trans* people and don’t leave them out of your discourse.
Follow a lot of blogs run by queer people, and follow the same rules listed above about respecting their boundaries.
Remember that not all women have vaginas, and not all men have penises. This is particularly important considering feminism’s tendency to relate penises with manhood. Having a penis =/= being a man. A lot of feminists will mock penises as a way to cope with living in the patriarchy, but that completely disregards women with penises. Trans* women are REAL women. Trans* men are REAL men.
Jokes like “justin bieber looks like a woman!” are transphobic. Saying you can practically see a woman’s adam’s apple is transphobic.
Respect a person’s preferred pronouns. If you don’t know, ask.
If a person says they are agender or genderfluid, or any other gender configuration, then they are.
Know that marriage equality is a priority, but it’s not the most important issue regarding the queer communiity.
Respect a person’s sexual orientation. They aren’t lying about who they are or are not attracted to.
People have the right to act as masculine or femme as they want.
This is particularly important with Islam. Radfems LOVE to bag on Islam as a woman hating religion when that absolutely is not true. The vast majority of women who wear head coverings are doing so electively. In the words of Ainee, don’t confuse culture with religion.
Respect the validity of other religions, even if they are not mainstream.
Being fat is PERFECTLY OKAY. Fat people don’t owe their health to you. They can dress how they want, go where they want, do what they want and eat what they want without any judgment.
The same goes for thin people, but know that thin people, while they will experience body policing to a certain degree, will never face the same kind of discrimination fat people do. Don’t compare the two situations.
Body hair on women is not disgusting. Women have no obligation to shave their legs/underarms/genitals. Similarly, they don’t have any obligation to remain hairy if they’d rather shave.
Disabilities and mental health
Be really mindful of the language you use. Ableist language is something I personally struggle with. Words like dumb, stupid, idiot, lame and other things are ableist.
Don’t describe yourself as depressed, bipolar, schizophrenic, or having any other mental affliction if you are not diagnosed so. It trivializes the experiences of those who are.
As a feminist, you probably already have a pretty good idea about sex positivity. But you need to acknowledge that the way sexuality is applied to other groups is different. White women can participate in things like slutwalks without even realizing that words like that can be empowering for them, but have been used to shame and hypersexualize WOC from a young age. Ditto trans* women.
Also note that people have the right to be nonsexual if they want to. There is nothing wrong with being a virgin or abstaining from sex.
There’s nothing wrong with bdsm and other kinks as long as the people involved are consenting to it. Nothing is degrading if the person wants it to happen.
Supporting sex work is great and all, and individuals who want to participate in sex work willngly should be supported. But in your support, don’t ignore the fact that many people are forced into sex work and are not consenting in what is happening to them.
Don’t assume that because somebody hasn’t had a formal education they are somehow less intelligent than you. Their points are still valid, and often stem from personal experence, which is a thing no classroom can teach you.
Dictionary definitions don’t mean shit.
Because something was written in a history book, it doesn’t mean it happened that way. History is written by the oppressors.
When advocating for a more eco-conscious lifestyle, remember that not everybody has the ability or resources to live the way you are suggesting. It doesn’t make them a bad person for doing it.
A couple of other things:
Know that you’re going to mess up. You can try as hard as possible not to, but it’s going to happen. You’ve been raised with several privileges that pretty much guarantee you’ll fuck up once. If someone calls you out for it, don’t get defensive. Apologize and learn. And don’t do any of those bullshit apologies like *I’m sorry you got offended* because that puts the responsibility on the person you upset. Just apologize for what you did and learn from it. Hell, I’ve probably fucked up a gazillion times in this post without realizing it.
Recognize that none of the categories above are exclusive. There are black muslims and disabled trans women and Latin@ bisexuals and all the combinations in between. Don’t ignore their existence.
Don’t be offended by posts calling white people crackers, or saying things like ‘die cisscum”. They are writing things such as that for a reason and no matter how much it might sting to read, nothing they write in their posts will ever inflict the amount of pain they have suffered in their lifetime just for being different than you.
Don’t be a radfem and look down on women who choose more traditional lifestyles. Their choice to get married and have kids is just as valid as whatever choice you make for yourself.
In the future, don’t come to me to tell you how to deal with groups I am not part of. I have absolutely no authority to tell you what will or will not offend people. I can only tell you what will or will not offend me.
And last thing, feminism doesn’t mean jack shit if you’re not intersectional.