An Intersectional Feminist against Imperial Feminism

April 3, 2015

Written by Julie Hall

‘Recently, during a training session for my work sector in a Muslim-majority country, a white American male associate started a discussion on gender development projects. “There’s still so much oppression that these women have to endure,” he lectured. “We have to take initiative to start these female projects, and we have to start by going to the local authorities—who will be male—and helping them see these issues.”
As a woman of color intersectional feminist, I was immediately on edge and on guard at these words. The familiar feelings began creeping in—frustration curling my fists and fear slithering down my spine. However, despite all that I wanted to scream about imperialism, imposition, paternalism, sustainability, and power dynamics, I simply took a deep breath and tackled one small aspect of his hugely problematic oration. “Well,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady, “You know, there are local authorities who are not men.”
The man smiled indulgently at me. “Gender roles are different here, sweetheart,” he said. “Males have more power than females. I mean, you must understand. Isn’t it like that in your culture, too?”’

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