Intersectionality— the ways in which different kinds of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect based on the various facets of a person’s identity—can seem like a lot to wrap your mind around, but it’s not only worth the work of understanding why it matters, it’s vital in any fight for justice. That’s just one reason why the Memphis Feminist Collective was founded. Evolving from an informal gathering of, as they put it, “radicals who shared a vision of justice and achieving collective liberation through collective struggle,” the MFC officially formed in May of 2014 and has since worked to uplift marginalized groups.
“Intersectionality has always been at the core of our mission,” members of the collective explained. “There is no justice in feminism if it doesn’t also recognize struggles involving things like race, sexuality, immigration, imperialist occupation, and class. The nature of the collective compelled us to recognize the responsibility of economic exploitation for creating and perpetuating gender-based injustices and degradation.”
Their focus on the inclusion of women of color as well as transgender people helps them to reach a broad audience of individuals seeking to be represented. Representative Nour Hantouli described the bond of their community. “We all share a common cause for liberation and a duty to unite in solidarity with all marginalized peoples. We believe that together we will struggle and together we will win.”
MFC also emphasizes education, working to “eradicate oppression through knowledge.” Right now they have free, downloadable Zines and info flyers on their website on topics of consent, visibility within queer communities, campus sexual assault, and Title IX rights. The members of the collective have distributed this literature at events such as SisterReach Reproductive Justice Summit, Mariposas Collective benefit show, the Women’s March Memphis, a University of Memphis town hall meeting on sexual assault, Fomofest, and Mid-South Pride. Individual members have also passed out the Consent Zine widely at bars, at parties, and among friends. This is a collective that believes in a movement directed not only through masses but through individual conversation.
On top of being a provider of informative literature, the MFC has also organized several community drives as well as team building events such as their monthly self-care days. These self-care days serve as a chance for members to gather in a safe space and practice personal healing and community strengthening. These days provide a wide range of resources through which to grow as women such as yoga, writing workshops, photography, dance, and potlucks.
As for community events, in 2016 MFC made a huge step towards aiding the refugee population of Memphis through a donation drive to collect food and household items for Syrian families seeking refuge in Tennessee.
“We collaborated with local Masjid An-Noor and Murfreesboro Muslim Youth to provide boxes of clothing (including new scarves for hijabi sisters), halal foods from local Arab and/or Muslim owned groceries, appliances, and more. We were grateful to help support 40 families as they began new lives here,” Nour said.
Currently, the collective remains in support of the Mariposas Collective, which they have been a part of the founding coalition and for whom they have held two donation drives. They have also just recently kick-started their 2019 Study Group for people to gather and discuss readings using a variety of interactive teaching styles in order to be more inclusive of various learning styles.
When asked what current event they feel the most passionate about, Nour replied, “Our menstruation products drives. Lately, we have been collecting period supplies for Shelby County Schools to help fight hygiene-related truancy. Thanks to the generous donations, we’ve been able to drop off two large deliveries to the SCS offices. We’ve also held Purse Parties where we include these products in care bags for women experiencing homelessness.”