Rebecca Walker (daughter of Alice and founder of Third Wave Foundation) has written a piece about why some in-fighting is kind of important. She’s an eloquent writer but I will try to summarise her main points:
1. The exclusionary practices of feminisms makes critique important. Some feminisms are more visible than others and that accords with other forms of privilege – so white, western, first world feminisms tend to get more attention. As Walker says:
“The lack of resolution of these critiques is currently manifesting in an exacerbated form, and labeled “infighting.” For example, my mother, Alice Walker, did not create the term “womanist” in the late ’70s because she was feeling creative. I did not offer the concept of Third Wave in the ’90s because I wanted to inject a catchy phrase into the Feminist discourse. And, many “mainstream” women did not reject the Feminist label in the ’60s to present because they don’t know what Feminism really is.”
2. As bell hooks has also said the need for coalition with black men over issues of racism, whilst not ignoring issues of sexism, is very important for black women. This failure to see the need for coalition also leads to other groups being dismissed – young women included.
3. The current election represents this struggle between empowerment, enfranchisement and identities (as opposed to identity). Feminism has failed to respond to various critiques and therefore those excluded or invisible within feminism are seeking solutions elsewhere.
4. The insistence by some feminists that these groups are now included (or perhaps appropriated) does not respond to the fact that exclusions occurred and still occur.
It is insulting and trivializing to those who have brought forward these concerns. It is not that this diverse community of challengers is ignorant, it is that they have surmised the landscape to find many of their concerns and reservations confirmed.