Professor Crenshaw Presents the Relevance of Intersectional Views as The Wall Street Journal Takes on the Feminist Debate

Building off the recent publicity over the stance taken by two local National Organization for Women (NOW) chapters on endorsing Hilary Clinton, Alexandra Alter of the Wall Street Journal interviewed various feminists, including Prof. Crenshaw, on their take on how feminists should cast their vote.  

In New York, the NOW chapter rebuffed Sen. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama as a betrayal of women’s issues.  The Connecticut chapter sent out an email to shore up support for Clinton by misrepresenting Obama’s vote on a bill restricting abortion. These chapters, however, acknowledged that their support goes beyond the position taken by the candidates.  As the president of the New York chapter states, “there’s a bigger picture here that goes beyond the issues. We understand the value of having women in roles that are traditionally thought of as men’s roles.”

Yet, as Alter discovered, these views did not represent all feminists. The national NOW office quickly distanced itself from these local chapters’ positions. The head of the California chapter made it clear that, “We all get to support the candidate of our choice, and that choice should not threaten our feminism.”  

By making gender or identity politics the deciding factor, these feminists negate the role of debating and deciding who will best represent one’s views. As Prof. Crenshaw notes at the end of the article, “What does this simplistic solidarity say to feminists of color? If the idea is, vote for the person who looks like you, what am I supposed to do as an African-American woman?”    

Yet, when an African American woman such as Maya Angelou can endorse Hilary Clinton and a White woman such as Kate Michelman (former president of National Abortion Rights Action League) can support Obama, it seems like a fair number of prominent feminists are willing to look beyond identity issues in order to engage in the debate on who can best represent their views.

To read Alexandra Alter’s article, Democratic Race Causes Feminist Rift, click here.

 

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