Part 2 of 3
I did something that I rarely do; I unfriended someone. This person is an acquaintance with whom I had the opportunity to spend a weekend a year together over several years through a women’s program in Canada.
What about my empathy?
What about my empathy in this situation? My flatmate kindly asked me why women, the largest group of marginalised people on this planet, are regularly seen pitted against marginalised groups.
It did make me think!
Women in the UK and worldwide continue to face various challenges, including gender-based violence, systemic inequalities, and threats to their rights and protections. Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still much work to be done to ensure that women can live safe, fulfilling lives.
One of the most pressing issues facing women, including transgender women, in the UK is the prevalence of rape and sexual assault. Every year, tens of thousands of women report being raped, but many more cases go unreported. The low conviction rate in England & Wales of 2.6% (2020-2021) for rape cases is a significant concern, as it can make it difficult for survivors to feel heard, seen, and believed. It can also make it harder to hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future acts of violence.
Transgender women, in particular, face significant challenges when accessing healthcare, employment, and other fundamental rights. Discrimination and harassment are all too common, and transgender women are at a heightened risk of experiencing violence and abuse. Efforts to restrict access to healthcare and other services can devastate this already marginalised population.
In addition to these challenges, women in the USA face a significant reduction of their rights over their bodies. In recent years, the federal case Rose Vs Wade was overturned and several US states have passed laws that restrict access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare services, including the use of medication to induce abortion. These laws have been met with widespread opposition from women’s groups, who argue that they violate women’s human rights and limit their ability to make choices about their bodies.
The impact of these laws has been significant, particularly for women who live in areas where access to reproductive healthcare services is already limited. As a result, women have been forced to travel long distances to access care, and some have been unable to obtain the care they need. This has devastatingly impacted low-income women, women of colour, and other marginalised groups.
Despite these challenges, it’s important to recognise women’s strength, resilience, and courage in the UK, the USA, and worldwide. Women continue to fight for their rights and a more just and equitable society; their contributions are vital to creating a better future for all. By working together and supporting one another, we can build a world where all women can thrive and live free from harm.
Pitted Against Each Other
It is, unfortunately, common for marginalised groups to be pitted against each other in various ways, such as in the case of the LGBTQ+ community, transgender individuals, and women. This often happens when people attempt to prioritise one group’s needs or struggles over another’s or perceive one group as threatening another’s rights or well-being.
It’s essential to recognise that marginalised groups have different experiences and struggles and that intersectionality is crucial in understanding and addressing these issues. It is not productive or helpful to pit one group against another or prioritise one group’s needs. Instead, working towards inclusivity and equality for all marginalised communities is essential.
Those who benefit from pitting marginalised groups against each other are often a result of systemic oppression and how different forms of discrimination intersect with one another. For example, white supremacy, patriarchy, and hetero-usualness create power dynamics between other groups and can lead to prioritising one group over another.
In some cases, individuals or groups who hold power or privilege within a marginalised group may benefit from pitting other groups against each other. For example, a white LGBTQ+ person may benefit from a system that prioritises white people over people of colour within the LGBTQ+ community. However, it’s essential to recognise that this kind of intra-group marginalisation is often a result of broader societal structures and systems of oppression rather than the actions of individuals or groups within marginalised communities.
Ultimately, it is in the interest of all marginalised groups to work together towards a common goal of dismantling systems of oppression and creating a more just and equitable society.
This means recognising and valuing the unique experiences and struggles of each group while also acknowledging how these struggles intersect and impact each other.