Intersectionality as a new feeling rule for young feminists: Race and feminist relations in France and Switzerland
Black feminist theory and theorizations by feminists of colour have identified and explored emotions linked to race and racism in feminist movements, especially in the US context. Building on this literature, this article explores the changes in feminist emotional dynamics linked to race which have been brought up by the relatively recent adoption of intersectionality in feminist movements’ discourses in two European countries, France and Switzerland, which are both often described as ‘colour-blind’ contexts. Drawing on Hochschild’s concept of feeling rules, we argue that intersectionality has changed the ways feminists are legitimately expected to feel about race and racism within feminist movements in both contexts. As feeling rules vary according to the members’ positions within the movement, we contend that these changes in emotional dynamics contribute to redefine feminists’ relations and feminist membership along racial lines. Based on interviews with young feminist activists in France and Switzerland during mobilization processes characterized by a prominent use of intersectionality, we observe how intersectionality discourses bring about new feeling rules in relation to race and racism. These feeling rules differ for white and non-white feminists: while intersectionality has led young white feminists to self-education and self-critique, racialized feminists often expressed mixed feelings about intersectionality and its use, in particular by white feminists. Importantly, these changes in feeling rules have allowed racialized feminists to renegotiate their relations with white feminists and their emotional content, as well as their position within the movement.
Eléonore Lépinard and Lucile Quéré
SAGE Publications, European Journal of Women's Studies
Emotions – affects
Struggles – social movements – activism
Race – racialization – racism