Women and Gender Studies
What is intersectionality?
New movements against repression have brought in new knowledge, and intersectionality is part of this knowledge. Intersectionality involves analyzing and comprehending ways in which gender interconnects with other groups, and how these associations bring distinctive understanding of oppression and dispensation. Intersectionality has helped in identifying rights and opportunities while fighting all symptoms of oppression. Neoliberal globalization processes have encouraged racism and prejudice against women through excluding those groups that have failed to move with the global economy. Black women encountered sexism by virtue of their color while racism resulted from their gender. All oppressions that women have faced are deeply connected to capitalism, where the oppressors belong to a higher social class than the oppressed.
Feminist efforts to understand experiences of women and their oppressions have continued as if these experiences have occurred in a mutually exclusive terrain. The politics of intersectionality indicates that intersectionality is an experience that cannot be explained through observation, but through actions, such as rape, sexual aggression, battering, and racial discrimination. In intersectionality, we attain the experience of African American women in the hands of racists and describe their experience through history. From the beginning, the community through awarding of responsibilities, had oppressed women, and this experience is still applicable in today’s world. Intersectionality creates a platform in which individuals, or groups, can fight for social justice, as well as equality, among different groups.
Why intersectuality is important as a tool of analysis and of achieving justice and social change?
The experiences of oppression against certain gender groups can vary depending on which gender is being oppressed. Intesectionality analysis endeavors to expose several identities while revealing numerous types of discrimination that happen due to the mixture of identities. Thus, intersectionality is a fundamental tool in describing how women, in particular, have struggled in different parts of the globe to fight racism and sexual discrimination. Respecting different identities and privileges has enabled women to create strength among themselves through movements that are based on diversity. According to Symington, intersectionality analysis speculates that people should not understand the mixture of identities as an additional burden, but as a productivity of divergent experiences (2). Understanding different identities can help to create a level ground for social change.
Women, especially of color, have struggled in overcoming discrimination for many years. However, violence against African American women can only be understood in the framework of gender, as well as race. The focus of intersectionality is to highlight race and gender when regarding how the social world looks like. When focusing on structural intersectionality, the experience of violence, rape, discrimination, and subordination exist where women of color interact with other races. It could be quite difficult to recruit women in any organization without first discussing women’s oppression because it might appear as if the fight for oppression is not taken seriously. Oppression seems to split the working class, hence, creating some weak points among them.
Society cannot make any progress if it chose to ignore differences with a given group. This can lead to tension within the groups and, consequently, undermining the effort to minimize violence against women. Multiple identities has produced different results as some women are coerced to take extreme stands due to continuous discrimination while others gain from acquiring honored positions in society. Intersectional analysis assists individuals to evaluate the impact of having divergent identities, and one aspect of people’s lives can connect to others. For instance, when a woman is discriminated due to her race, or social class, in her working place, her situation betrays her while the policies of the organization that employs her supports the act of discrimination.
Intersectionality analysis is essential in the understanding of how women are oppressed, as well as privileges that some of them acquire globally. People can learn from women’s experience on how to react on certain issues. Fighting for equality does not start with one person, but rather a group of people, who share the same interests, though from different backgrounds. An intersectionality analysis purports that women who belong to an effluent family are also susceptible to diseases such as HIV, thus, richness is not a guarantee of good health. Eradicating poverty, diseases, discrimination, and violation of human rights require a tool that can provide detailed information on each issue, in addition to push for justice and fairness. Intersectionality analysis is crucial because it compiles data and statistics in accordance to the objectives and needs of the study. For instance, women of color are hampered by poverty, job proficiency, childcare, and wife battering, thus, intersectionality analysis depicts that gender and class oppression has contributed to their sufferings (Crenshaw 1246).
In conclusion, intersectionality is termed as a fundamental tool of analysis under which people learn on how individuals of different identities interact, and how such interactions result in exceptional experiences of either oppression or privilege. Intersectionality purports that people can live in one community, but experience different outcomes due to their identities. The analysis of intersectionality can help in understanding these identities so that we can reveal the distinction that can enable them to survive in the same environment. Consequently, women can be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities and privileges if they agree to fight discrimination as a group.
Crenshaw, Kimberley. “Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color.” Stanford law review (1991): 1241-1299.
Symington, Alison. “Intersectionality: a tool for gender and economic justice.” Women’s Rights and Economic Change (2004): 1-8.