Sharon Smith, socialist writer and activist, spoke to students Friday evening as part of Social Justice Week. “Race, Class and Feminism” covered a span of issues concerning feminism, racism and socialism.
Smith argued for a commitment to intersectionality, a theoretical approach first described by UCLA professor Kimberlé Crenshaw that links the anti-racism and feminism movement. Smith said the feminist movement should also include analyses of economic oppression.
“Intersectionality represents the possibility of a unified movement to combat all aspects of oppression,” Smith said.
Smith said that the campaign for reproductive rights was an opportunity to bring intersectionality into the mainstream feminist movement.
“The birth control movement in this country,” Smith said, “began with a eugenics movement.”
After Smith’s half-hour talk, she participated in an hour-long discussion with students on topics ranging from coalition-building to declining teenage pregnancy rates. Most of the discussion, however, focused on the morality of abortion.
SESP freshman Emiliano Vera identified himself as a member of the anti-abortion movement and argued that abortion is the killing of a human being. Vera said that he agreed with much of her arguments, except about reproductive rights.
Smith appeared visibly frustrated by Vera’s arguments. She interrupted his allotted time to talk to respond.
“You can’t say that here because it is extremely offensive to me and not a fact,” Smith said. “Women have worked too hard and too long for that bullshit.”
ISO president Moira Geary, Weinberg sophomore, said she was glad “that there was a diversity of opinion in the room.”
“There hasn’t been this sort of controversy of opinion that has been expressed [at other Social Justice Week events],” Geary said.
SJW will conclude Tuesday evening with a people’s gathering which, according to Geary, will be “a tangible demonstration that we have the power to occupy space on campus."