Intersectional feminism has been a consistent and reliable source of community for me throughout my young-adulthood. Notably, it’s a community I’m eternally grateful to have found. This space has taught me so many important lessons about myself when I was struggling with my identity and mental health. The inherent community within intersectional feminism helped me learn to support myself as much as I should support others.
In the Fall of 2017, during my sophomore year of undergrad, I began struggling with undiagnosed depression and anxiety. At the time, I was going to school three hours away from home. Despite being at my university for three semesters, the campus and town still felt unfamiliar to me, which constantly clouded me in anxiety and discomfort. As my mental health worsened throughout the semester, it became hard for me to focus on any school or work responsibilities.
In fact, I often skipped class or called into work because it became increasingly hard to get out of bed most days. Ultimately, I had to make a critical choice that could save me from irreversible harm. So, I decided to move back home, transfer universities, and change my major.
The inherent community within intersectional feminism helped me learn to support myself as much as I should support others.
By Spring 2018, I essentially felt as though I was starting over. This felt like my second chance to “do college.” At the time, I was 20-years-old. I had a better understanding of my mental health; I knew where my passions lied; I had gained some of my dedication back. However, I knew I had some internal work to do in order to get where I needed to be regarding better health.
Luckily, later that year I took my first women’s studies class in the Fall of 2018. I’m the kind of person who used my elective classes to explore new things as a way to satisfy my natural curiosity. The class was called “Feminist research methodologies” which explored a feminist approach to conducting research, compared to other traditional, sometimes exploitative forms of research. The class consisted of only women (which I initially thought was a shame but turned out to be a blessing) of all different ages, backgrounds, races, and ethnicities.
Despite our differences in identity, during class discussions, everyone listened and empathized with one another. Every woman there, including my professor, was respectful of each other and offered outstanding support when other women in the class needed it. In turn, the professor as well as my classmates created such a warm, welcoming environment for me to feel comfortable; something I, and probably many other people with anxiety, never felt while being in a large classroom.
Our feminist class was in itself an illustration of intersectional feminism, for our differences were how we connected with and listened to each other.
Our feminist class was in itself an illustration of intersectional feminism, for our differences were how we connected with and listened to each other. Intersectional feminism emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the way our marginalized identities intersect. The women in my class displayed so much solidarity and unrelenting support for every other woman there. We shared our daily struggles, societal struggles, what we were grateful for, and how we can begin implementing necessary change to create safer spaces for other communities. They taught me what being a feminist was truly about: unabashedly showing up for others.
Interestingly, many of the girls from that class still show me support in my endeavors. I was ultimately inspired to pursue writing to spread many of the positive ideas I learned from the women in my class. Since taking this class, I’ve been a feminist who strives to uplift and advocates for myself and others the way my former classmates did, and still does, for me.
Intersectional feminism taught me how to be a necessary ally for myself as well as for others outside of my immediate community. This community has provided me a safe space to grow into an adult that is more confident, more self-aware, and more educated about the world outside of myself. So, in turn, I can provide a meaningful sense of community to those who need it too.
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