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Intersectionality has been a legal and socio-cultural term since 1998 thanks to Kimberlé Crenshaw who put a name to the particular phenomenon of oppression. Her naming of culminating and connected marginalizations also provides an approach to address them. Nevertheless, feminisms that neglect intersectionality persist. The individualist feminist who prioritizes personal choice as the ultimate act of autonomy rarely evaluates the intersections of identity, even their own. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre presents a protofeminist protagonist whose choices to advance her own freedom often contradict the freedom of those who live and labor outside of white and Western society. She is free to marry for love while participating in colonial discourses and aligning with the colonizing mission. Liberation for Jane means the freedom of choice enabled by inheritance and fails to account for the humanity and freedom of women who are not white and well-connected. Jane’s Western protofeminism illustrates how individualist resistance to patriarchy replicates and perpetuates colonial dominance.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's History


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