In 1976, The National Organization for Women sent out a newsletter addressing all of the progress they had been able to make in their first 10 years. The NOW president attributed the success of NOW’s involvement in the feminist movement to the 55,000 members in over 650 chapters. She also expressed her excitement about what the future of NOW will be able to achieve through its autonomous chapters. The newsletter stated that autonomy gives chapters “the means of communication and a unified sense of purpose that makes them more determined and more effective without compromising their independence.”
While the concept of autonomous chapters is wonderful and I believe that feminism is worthless without intersectionality, I wonder if autonomy and intersectionality have contributed in some way to the stall of the movement.
After the ten year period from 1966 to 1976, NOW saw a decrease in the number of chapters from over 650 to just over 550. The world also saw an increase in popularity of women’s organizations with a variety of purposes. For example, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Zonta International are all other well-known women’s organizations. While it is wonderful to have so many causes fighting for the advancement of women, they all do so in slightly different ways instead of having all women work as one.
I think it is important for all these organizations to remember they are fighting for the same cause and band together. Feminist should not only fight for the rights of their type of woman, but also for black women, Hispanic women, Jewish women, transgender women, and every other type of woman out there because every woman matters. Intersectionality needs to be used as a tool for empowerment rather than as another barrier to progress.
Sunday, October 30, 2016