Student: Mainstream feminism 'excludes' many feminists

A student recently criticized Columbia University’s culture of “intersectionality,” saying it “excludes” pro-life feminists, Zionists, and others who don’t fit the feminist agenda.

In an op-ed for The Columbia Spectator, Noa Rubin, a dual-degree student at Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, recounts the disillusionment she felt when she learned that many of Columbia’s clubs target Israel.

“As a Jewish student who identifies as a Zionist, I felt unwelcomed by the network at ‘Disorientation.’ When I first got to Barnard, I was very excited to join No Red Tape (a club dedicated to ending sexual violence) and get involved with a campus Black Lives Matter partner,” she writes.

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However, she says her eagerness quickly turned to dismay. After asking clubs what their recent accomplishments were, Rubin found that “many of them targeted Israel, presenting an affront to this [Jewish] part of my identity,” adding that “More recently, I find myself being excluded from feminist discussions because I am a Zionist.”

In 2015, seven student clubs at Columbia formed the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network (BCSN). In uniting under the BCSN, the varying student groups vowed to endorse each other’s goals in a true stand of “intersectionality.” Soon after, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) joined, citing the “interlocking and overlapping nature of struggle.”

The fallout, as other students lament, is that many campus clubs now alienate Jewish students.

Student support of No Red Tape, for instance, dropped tremendously after the club endorsed SJP’s platform, and when the club later requested that Columbia student council members publicly endorse their platform, the request fell on deaf-ears.

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This brand of intersectionality, in which all causes commit to each other, is highly exclusionary, Rubin told Campus Reform, noting that the BCSN is the cause of much of her consternation.

“The loudest voice [on campus] is a particular brand of progressivism: that of the BCSN,” Rubin asserted, adding that she is “tired of my voice and ideology being written off because I was the wrong kind of progressive.”

Ultimately, as an intersectional feminist herself, Rubin hopes that the campus climate changes.

“In my opinion, intersectionality done right is radically inclusive,” she said. “This is why I love intersectionality and hold to it as one of my highest ideals, especially as a feminist.”

True intersectional feminists, Rubin argued, don’t exclude women based on politics.

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“We [should] fight for the rights of even our greatest opponents. I'm a Zionist, but I stand for the rights of anti-Zionist Jews and Arabs alike: this is my intersectionality,” she explained.

Rubin told Campus Reform that intersectionality should acknowledge the common humanity of everyone, saying that even if she finds a particular woman’s views morally repugnant, “on the basis of the sexism she faces, my commitment to women's rights must extend to her.”

“We must remember that on the basis of our common humanity we are obligated to protect each other, especially in these trying political times,” she concluded. “The limit should only apply to those who lack humanity and reject the idea that all people are equal.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen