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Information about Intersectionality

Published on December 8, 2016

Author: JenniferBreaux2



2. IT’S JUST, LIKE, A KIND OF FEMINISM RIGHT? • First we need to understand what feminism is to begin with: • At its most basic level, feminism is equality between the sexes.

3. OH, COOL! THAT’S WHAT I WANT! SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT? • There is nothing wrong with wanting equality between the sexes, but the issue comes into play when gender is the only factor in feminism. • Consider this: is your gender the only part of your identity? • Probably not—your identity is your sexuality, your class, your education level, your age, among so many others; all of these things are a part of you. • So, in this case, what intersectionality does is break apart these parts of your identity and make them VALID.


5. DO I HAVE TO REMEMBER ALL OF THAT?! • No, just get a general idea of where you are on that chart.

6. PRIVILEGE? OPPRESSION? • Privilege is a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. • Basically, can you experience homophobia if you are heterosexual? Can you experience transphobia as a cisgender (“cis” meaning a person who identifies as the gender assigned at birth) person? • You’ve probably heard that term running around. Privilege is simply the opposite of oppression. • It’s easier to see oppression over privilege because oppression is a bad thing, and so we’re likely to see where we are oppressed than privileged—but we need to see where we are with our privilege to act as allies to those who have socially disenfranchised identities.

7. SO WHAT /IS/ INTERSECTIONALITY? • Formally, it’s a concept to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. • It was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.

8. WHY INTERSECTIONALITY? • Because the experience a straight white woman has versus a non-heterosexual Black woman cannot possibly be compared. You cannot strive for equality when their experiences are totally different. • The straight white woman and the non-heterosexual Black woman are not catch-all phrases, to clarify—it is important to remember where we are in terms of race/class/gender/sexuality, etc. • If we want equality for the sexes, then that should mean accommodating everyone who is not privileged in our social system. • The basis of intersectionality is that our identities are all connected—my race, my sexuality, my class, etc. are in combination with my gender.

9. SO WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?? • Familiarize yourself with intersectionality and understand that everyone has different parts of their identity that are valid. • Privileged in some places? Become an ally—educate yourself on stuff like patriarchy or other oppressive structures that prevent minorities of all sorts from taking positions of power in society. • Do not speak OVER these people. Their voices should be loudest, with your allied voice to lift theirs into the public ears and eyes. • Taken from Geek Feminism: “Two people or groups with different forms of oppression directed against them may both have legitimate needs which come in conflict with each other. Picking a way to reconcile these needs is hard and tends to fall disproportionately hard on people who are already struggling.”

10. THIS IS ALL SO COMPLICATED. • And it is. Take it one concept at a time. Educate yourself with gender. Then race, then class, etc. You’d be surprised at how much you already know. • Read Kimberlé Crenshaw—much of her work is available online. • And, yes, a part of educating yourself is reading. A lot of intersectional feminists make an effort to be comprehensible, however, so find some that works for you. • Find groups similar to you that you identify with. Don’t be surprised when you find people with a billion different perspectives on what feminism is, or different kinds of debates in different communities—it’s startling at first, but if you research enough, you’ll be able to find where you align and agree with. It’s work, but worth it.


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