Bridget Jones & Intersectional feminism

“You can never muster the strength to fight for me.”

This is the final reason Bridget gives to Mark Darcy as to why they can no longer see each other – their ‘fatal incompatibility’ as she later describes. But later on in the film ‘Edge of Reason’ Bridget is thrown into a Thai prison and is forced to compare her bad boyfriend’s behaviour to her fellow inmates. They begin to talk about their violent partners who forced them to inject heroin and work 24 hour days prostituting themselves. Jones is forced to offer up feeble sounding answers in response: “He didn’t stick up for me at this law council dinner…”

This scene has always made me feel really uncomfortable – that the filmmakers were insinuating that Bridget’s relationship problems are invalid, which of course is exactly as they come across when compared with severe domestic violence. This nature of comparison is part of human nature, but it got me thinking about the topic of feminism and intersectional feminism in particular. Intersectional feminism arose to bring attention to the idea that not all feminists are white, middle class, straight, cisgendered or able-bodied. Intersectional feminism is designed to address the fact that feminism is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and that it must be tailored for every individual according to aspects of their person or the culture in which they live. ‘White feminism’ is an unfortunate development of late within the feminist movement, with some intersectional feminists describing it as ‘women taking after their brothers and fathers’. It is identified as a sense of entitlement – a separate agenda within which certain women of certain privileges enforce their ideas and expectations upon other women. A great example of white feminism at work is within the ‘ban the veil’ movement. White feminists have been claiming that the traditional Muslim style of dress for a woman such as niqabs or burqas are oppressive and that Muslim women should be liberated of them. This obvious insensitivity and ignorance towards the culture and its intricacies goes hand in hand with accusations of racism, and feminism can feel at times like a ship thats been hijacked by a pirate agenda. It’s misunderstood already as it is, and quite simply, the movement can’t afford it.

Intersectional feminism attempts to evolve the feminist movement into a truly understanding and fair series of beliefs and attitudes. As the movement ages it matures and learns from its previous mistakes, much like any developing person – to personify feminism is not to do it a disservice at all. Intersectional feminism is not a fad, it is the future. It is tailor-made feminism, and pure progression. It allows everyone’s problems to be classed as valid, whilst allowing for certain issues to be prioritised above others. There are still places in the world where women are being persecuted for being women, where the act of being born a female demotes you immediately into a second class citizen. Intersectional feminism is important because it brings things to people’s attention, and reminds the more privileged among us that feminism is not all cat-calling and free the nipple. And that’s something that some people forget – that even movements as well-meaning and as vital as feminism are poisoned by people’s privilege.

So was Bridget right to compare her clearly privileged, white, upper middle class Western relationship to that of the experiences of the other girls in her cell? I think not.

N.

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