Intersectionality has become a buzzword of the contemporary feminist movement. Its recent introduction to liberal conversation is significant progress. However, it’s imperative to understand the meaning and nuances of intersectionality, to become proper agents of the term.
Although, if you have never heard of intersectionality or do not possess a single clue about its meaning, please do not fear!! You’ve already taken an important first step in your impending education – clicking on this article! So, I urge you to keep reading as the following information is incredibly important.
Scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw first coined the term in 1989. She defined intersectionality as race and gender interacting to create unique forms of discrimination. Essentially, this means multiple areas of discrimination working together, creating extreme bias against a person.
For example, a Black woman will face higher levers of discrimination firstly because of racism and secondly because of sexism.
As a white woman, I’ll have to try harder than my male counterparts for promotion. However, a black woman will have to try harder than a black man, a white woman and a white man for that same promotion. This example only references black and white men and women. It should be noted discrimination and intersectionality are not limited to these groups, however to illustrate intersectionality simply the above example just references these groups.
The same notions applies for trans people of colour. They will face layered elements of discrimination. This may include being a Person of Colour, being female and being transgender.
Intersectional discrimination is not just limited to the workplace. In its worse forms, it is responsible for the unwarranted deaths and rapes of marginalised peoples, simply for engrained racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia.
HOW IT’S IMPACTING THE WORLD
As movements of activism continue around the world, the need for intersectionality is becoming vital.
The 2017 #MeToo movement prompted important conversations about patriarchal structures allowing sexual violence. It gave women power and agency through the uniting force of social media.
What many don’t realise about #MeToo, is that the term was first employed by Black activist Tarana Burke in 2006. Burke’s intention was to bring attention to mass rates of sexual violence in marginalised communities.
Yet, in 2017 when Alyssa Milano tweeted a ‘me too,’ Burke’s message was forgotten, and redefined. #MeToo gave licence to actors, journalists and corporates to stick it to their abusers and harassers.
Media coverage of the movement revolved around Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Rose McGowan. Soon, celebrities became synonymous with #MeToo.
These celebrities were initiating an important first step – normalising a conversation about sexual violence. However, an important reality was ignored:
Sexual violence occurs at prolific rates to marginalised people. Such crimes are committed at disproportionately higher rates than to white people.
#MeToo is an example of a movement that ignored intersectionality, and therefore became exclusive.
Intersectionality is about starting these movements at the most marginalised intersections, to capture everyone in the net.
That way, everyone is included, regardless of skin colour, gender, wealth, sexual preference, race and religion.