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Intersectionality is a theory which considers that the various aspects of humanity, such as class, race, sexual orientation, disability and gender, do not exist separately from each other, but are complexly interwoven, and that their relationships are essential to an understanding of the human condition. When systems of justice or other entities attempt to look at each aspect in isolation, then misconceptions may occur and essential understandings may be lost.[1][2] Rather than thinking of identity as a collection of separate elements, it is better understood if the elements are thought of as "inextricably linked" with each other, and that all aspects of identity are "integral, interlocking parts of a whole".[3] The term was coined by the American feminist legal scholar, critical race theorist, and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, but the original concept was developed by sociologist Beatrice Potter Webb in 1913.[4]

This framework, it is argued by its proponents, can be used to understand systemic injustice and social inequality in many ways.[5] Proponents claim that racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and religious or other belief-based bigotry and persecution—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination.[6]

Under this hypothesis, identities usually are not addressed or mapped out in normal social discourses and often come with their own set of oppression, domination, and discrimination. Laws and policies usually only address one form of marginalized identity. The overlapping of multiple oppressed identities often go overlooked. Since these identities are ignored, there is a lack of resources needed to combat the discrimination, and the oppression is cyclically perpetuated.[7]

Intersectionality proposes that all aspects of one's identity need to be examined as simultaneously interacting with each other and affecting one's privilege and perception in society, and that these facets of identity cannot simply be observed separately. As such, intersectionality is not simply a view of personal identity, but rather an overarching analysis of power hierarchies present within identities. The framework of intersectionality also provides an insight into how multiple systems of oppression interrelate and are interactive.[8] Intersectionality is not a static field; rather, it is dynamic and constantly developing as response to formations of complex social inequalities. Intersectionality can be seen as an "overarching knowledge project".[2] Within this overarching umbrella, there are multiple knowledge projects that evolve "in tandem with changes in the interpretive communities that advance them".[2]

Intersectionality is an important paradigm in academic scholarship and broader contexts such as social justice work, but difficulties arise due to the many complexities involved in making "multidimensional conceptualizations"[9] that explain the way in which socially constructed categories of differentiation interact to create a social hierarchy. For example, intersectionality holds that there is no singular experience of an identity. Rather than understanding women's health solely through the lens of gender, it is necessary to consider other social categories such as class, ability, nation or race, to have a fuller understanding of the range of women's health concerns.

The theory of intersectionality also suggests that seemingly discrete forms and expressions of oppression are shaped by one another (mutually co-constitutive).[10] Thus, in order to fully understand the racialization of oppressed groups, one must investigate the ways in which racializing structures, social processes and social representations (or ideas purporting to represent groups and group members in society) are shaped by gender, class, sexuality, etc.[11] While the theory began as an exploration of the oppression of women of color within American society, today the analysis is potentially applied to all categories (including statuses usually seen as dominant when seen as standalone statuses).

Critics argue that intersectionality theory places undue emphasis on subjective narratives; offers an incomplete class analysis; overwhelms potential adherents with unrealistic demands; oversimplifies complex social problems; and represents the views of an ideologically narrow perspective.


Historical backgroundEdit

External video
Women of the World Festival 2016
  Kimberlé Crenshaw – On Intersectionality via Southbank Centre on YouTube[12]

The concept of intersectionality is intended to illuminate dynamics that have too often been overlooked in feminist movements and theory.[13] As articulated by bell hooks, such an approach "challenged the notion that 'gender' was the primary factor determining a woman's fate".[14] This exploration sprang from a historical exclusion of black women from the feminist movement that had been challenged since at least the 1800s by black feminists such as Anna Julia Cooper. In many ways, the introduction of intersectional theory supported claims made by women of color that they belong in both of these political spheres.

The movement led by women of color disputed the idea, common to earlier feminist movements, that women were a homogeneous category essentially sharing the same life experiences. This argument stemmed from the realization that white middle-class women did not serve as an accurate representation of the feminist movement as a whole.[15] Recognizing that the forms of oppression experienced by white middle-class women were different from those experienced by black, poor, or disabled women, feminists sought to understand the ways in which gender, race, and class combined to "determine the female destiny".[14]

Leslie McCall argues that the introduction of the intersectionality theory was vital to sociology, claiming that before its development there was little research that specifically addressed the experiences of people who are subjected to multiple forms of subordination within society.[16]

The term also has historical and theoretical links to the concept of "simultaneity" advanced during the 1970s by members of the Combahee River Collective, in Boston, Massachusetts.[17] Members of this group articulated an awareness that their lives, and their forms of resistance to oppression, were profoundly shaped by the simultaneous influences of race, class, gender, and sexuality.[18] Thus, the women of the Combahee River Collective advanced an understanding of African-American experiences that challenged analyses emerging from Black and male-centered social movements; as well as those from mainstream white, middle-class, heterosexual feminists.[19]

Feminist thoughtEdit

The term intersectionality theory was first coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.[5] In her work, Crenshaw discussed Black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black and of being a woman considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.[20] Crenshaw mentioned that the intersectionality experience within black women is more powerful than the sum of their race and sex, and that any observations that do not take intersectionality into consideration cannot accurately address the manner in which black women are subordinated.[21][page needed]

In order to show that women of color have a vastly different experience from white women due to their race and/or class and that their experiences are not easily voiced or pinpointed, Crenshaw explores two types of male violence against women: domestic violence and rape. Through her analysis of these two forms of male violence against women, Crenshaw depicts that the experiences of women of color consist of a combination or intersection of both racism and sexism.[7] Because women of color are present within discourses that have been designed to address either race or sex, but not both at the same time, women of color are marginalized within both of these systems of oppression.[7]

In her work, Crenshaw identifies three aspects of intersectionality that affect the visibility of women of color: structural intersectionality, political intersectionality, and representational intersectionality. Structural intersectionality deals with how women of color experience domestic violence and rape in a manner qualitatively different from the ways that white women experience them. Political intersectionality examines how feminist and anti-racists laws and policies have paradoxically decreased the visibility of violence against women of color. Finally, representational intersectionality delves into how pop culture portrayals of women of color can obscure the actual, real life experiences of women of color.[7]

The term gained prominence in the 1990s when sociologist Patricia Hill Collins reintroduced the idea as part of her discussion on black feminism. This term replaced her previously coined expression "black feminist thought", "and increased the general applicability of her theory from African American women to all women".[22]:61 Much like her predecessor Crenshaw, Collins argued that cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society, such as race, gender, class, and ethnicity.[23]:42 Collins described this as "interlocking social institutions [that] have relied on multiple forms of segregation... to produce unjust results".[24]

Patricia Hill Collins sought to create frameworks to think about intersectionality, rather than expanding on the theory itself. As a field, she identified three main branches of study within intersectionality. One branch deals with the background, ideas, issues, conflicts, and debates within intersectionality. Another branch seeks to apply intersectionality as an analytical strategy to various social institutions in order to examine how they might perpetuate social inequality. The final branch formulates intersectionality as a critical praxis to determine how social justice initiatives can use intersectionality to bring about social change.[2]

Of course, the ideas behind intersectional feminism existed long before the term was coined. For example, in 1851 Sojourner Truth delivered her famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, in which she spoke from her racialized position as a former slave to critique essentialist notions of femininity.[25] Similarly, in her 1892 essay, "The Colored Woman's Office", Anna Julia Cooper identifies black women as the most important actors in social change movements, because of their experience with multiple facets of oppression.[26]

Though intersectionality began with the exploration of the interplay between gender and race, over time other identities and oppressions were added to the theory. For example, in 1981 Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa published the first edition of This Bridge Called My Back. This anthology explored how classifications of sexual orientation and class also mix with those of race and gender to create even more distinct political categories. Many black, Latina, and Asian writers featured in the collection stress how their sexuality interacts with their race and gender to inform their perspectives. Similarly, poor women of color detail how their socio-economic status adds a layer of nuance to their identities, unknown to or misunderstood by middle-class white feminists.[27]

According to black feminists and many white feminists, experiences of class, gender, sexuality, etc., cannot be adequately understood unless the influences of racialization are carefully considered. This focus on racialization was highlighted many times by scholar and feminist bell hooks, specifically in her 1981 book Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism.[28] Feminists argue that an understanding of intersectionality is a vital element to gaining political and social equality and improving our democratic system.[29] Collins's theory represents the sociological crossroads between modern and post-modern feminist thought.[23]

Marie-Claire Belleau argues for "strategic intersectionality" in order to foster cooperation between feminisms of different ethnicities.[30]:51 She refers to different nat-cult (national-cultural) groups that produce unique types of feminisms. Using Québécois nat-cult as an example, Belleau acknowledges that many nat-cult groups contain infinite sub-identities within themselves. Due to this infinity, she argues that there are endless ways in which different feminisms can cooperate by using strategic intersectionality, and these partnerships can help bridge gaps between "dominant and marginal" groups.[30]:54 Belleau argues that, through strategic intersectionality, differences between nat-cult feminisms are neither essentialist nor universal, but that they should be understood as results of socio-cultural contexts. Furthermore, the performances of these nat-cult feminisms are also not essentialist. Instead, they are strategies.[30]

Similarly, Intersectional theorists like Vrushali Patil argue that intersectionality ought to recognize transborder constructions of racial and cultural hierarchies. Patil recognizes the affect of the state on identity formation, "If we continue to neglect cross-border dynamics and fail to problematize the nation and its emergence via transnational processes, our analyses will remain tethered to the spatialities and temporalities of colonial modernity."[31]

Marxist-feminist critical theoryEdit

Collins's intersectionality theory and its relative principles have a wide range of applicability in the sociological realm, especially in topics such as politics and violence (see, for instance, Collins, 1998). The struggle faced by Black women in the economic sector, for example, demonstrates how the interrelated principles of Collins's theory come together to add a new dimension to Marxist economic theory. Collins used her insight and built a dynamic theory of political oppression as related to Black women in particular.

W. E. B. Du Bois theorized that the intersectional paradigms of race, class, and nation might explain certain aspects of black political economy. Collins writes: "Du Bois saw race, class, and nation not primarily as personal identity categories but as social hierarchies that shaped African American access to status, poverty, and power."[23]:44 Du Bois omitted gender from his theory and considered it more of a personal identity category.

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes expands on this by pointing out the value of centering on the experiences of black women. Joy James takes things one step further by "using paradigms of intersectionality in interpreting social phenomena". Collins later integrated these three views by examining a black political economy through both the centering of black women's experiences and using a theoretical framework of intersectionality.[23]:44

Collins uses a Marxist feminist approach and applies her intersectional principles to what she calls the "work/family nexus and black women's poverty". In her 2000 article "Black Political Economy" she describes how the intersections of consumer racism, gender hierarchies, and disadvantages in the labor market can be centered on black women's unique experiences. Considering this from a historical perspective examining interracial marriage laws and property inheritance laws creates what Collins terms a "distinctive work/family nexus that in turn influences the overall patterns of black political economy".[23]:45–46 For example, anti-miscegenation laws effectively suppressed the upward economic mobility of black women.

The intersectionality of race and gender has been shown to have a visible impact on the labor market. "Sociological research clearly shows that accounting for education, experience, and skill does not fully explain significant differences in labor market outcomes."[9]:506 The three main domains on which we see the impact of intersectionality are wages, discrimination, and domestic labor. Those who experience privilege within the social hierarchy in terms of race, gender and socio-economic status are less likely to receive lower wages, to be subjected to stereotypes and discriminated against, or be hired for exploitive domestic positions. Study of the labor market and intersectionality provides a better understanding of economic inequalities and the implications of the multidimensional impact of race and gender on social status within society.[9]:506–507

Categorical complexityEdit

Although Crenshaw never suggests one set methodology for the practice of intersectionality, in her article "The Complexity of Intersectionality" Leslie McCall suggests three different approaches to studying intersectionality. The three approaches; anticategorical complexity, intercategorical complexity, and intracategorical complexity, serve to represent the broad spectrum of current methodologies that are used to better understand and apply the intersectionality theory.[16]

Anticategorical complexity
The anticategorical approach is based on the "methodology that deconstructs analytical categories".[16] It argues that social categories are an arbitrary construction of history and language and that they contribute little to understanding the ways in which people experience society.[32][page needed] Furthermore, the anticategorical approach states that, "inequalities are rooted in relationships that are defined by race, class, sexuality, and gender".[16] Therefore, the only way to eliminate oppression in society is to eliminate the categories used to section people into differing groups. This analysis claims that society is too complex to be reduced down into finite categories and instead recognizes the need for a holistic approach in understanding intersectionality, according to the anticategorical approach.[33]
Intercategorical (aka categorical) complexity
The intercategorical approach to intersectionality begins by addressing the fact that inequality exists within society, and then uses this as a basis for discussion of intersectionality. According to intercategorical complexity, "the concern is with the nature of the relationships among social groups and, importantly, how they are changing." Proponents of this methodology use existing categorical distinctions to document inequality across multiple dimensions and measure its change over time.[16]
Intracategorical complexity
The intracategorical approach provides a midpoint between the anticategorical and intercategorical approaches. It recognizes the apparent shortcomings of existing social categories, and it questions the way in which they draw boundaries of distinction. This approach does not completely reject the importance of categories like the anticategorical approach, however; the intracategorical approach recognizes the relevance of social categories to the understanding of the modern social experience.[33] Moreover, intracategorical complexity focuses on studying the neglected social groups at the intersection of anticategorical and intercategorical. To reconcile these contrasting views, intracategorical complexity focuses on people who cross the boundaries of constructed categories in an effort to understand the complexity and intersectionality of human interactions.[16]

Key conceptsEdit

Interlocking matrix of oppressionEdit

Collins refers to the various intersections of social inequality as the matrix of domination. This is also known as "vectors of oppression and privilege".[34]:204 These terms refer to how differences among people (sexual orientation, class, race, age, etc.) serve as oppressive measures towards women and change the experience of living as a woman in society. Collins, Audre Lorde (in Sister Outsider), and bell hooks point towards either/or thinking as an influence on this oppression and as further intensifying these differences.[35] Specifically, Collins refers to this as the construct of dichotomous oppositional difference. This construct is characterized by its focus on differences rather than similarities.[36]:S20

Colorism[37] is skin tone stratification and it typically has the lighter skin tones at the top of the hierarchy while darker skin tones are treated less favorably and have been denied things allocated to those lighter. In America, a common expression of colorism stems from the notion that some African Americans with lighter complexions have ties to "house slaves" and Africans Americans with darker complexions have ancestral ties to "field slaves".[38] Some implications have been that those in the house were being treated better than those in the field because of the intensity of field labor as well as being inside. However, there are two sides that being a "house slave" came with the danger of being subject to more trauma, such as rape, as well as other dangers of interacting with the white slave owners more often. Colorism also exists strongly today on an everyday level with tangible and long-lasting results, in, for example, the education system. How African-American and Latino/a students are treated by staff, teachers, administrators, etc. may be biased by the student's skin tone.[39]

Colorism is not a synonym to racism as colorism can occur, and often does, within racial and ethnic groups. The brown paper bag test[40] was used in America for black people to be further divided: those lighter than a brown paper bag were allotted some privilege that those darker were not permitted to. The brown paper bag test and colorism add to the fuel of intersectionality: recognizing the different identities of an individual in order to better understand one's lived experiences which can be different by race, gender, sexuality, as well as color,[41] amongst other qualities. The brown paper bag test is not used outright today but there are still implications of colorism; for example in media, lighter skin black females are often more sexualized than their darker counterparts.[42]

Standpoint epistemology and the outsider withinEdit

Both Collins and Dorothy Smith have been instrumental in providing a sociological definition of standpoint theory. A standpoint is an individual's unique world perspective. The theoretical basis of this approach views societal knowledge as being located within an individual's specific geographic location. In turn, knowledge becomes distinctly unique and subjective; it varies depending on the social conditions under which it was produced.[43]:392

The concept of the outsider within refers to a unique standpoint encompassing the self, family, and society.[36]:S14 This relates to the specific experiences to which people are subjected as they move from a common cultural world (i.e., family) to that of the modern society.[34]:207 Therefore, even though a woman—especially a Black woman—may become influential in a particular field, she may feel as though she does not belong. Their personalities, behaviors, and cultural beings overshadow their value as an individual; thus, they become the outsider within.[36]:S14

Resisting oppressionEdit

Speaking from a critical standpoint, Collins points out that Brittan and Maynard claim "domination always involves the objectification of the dominated; all forms of oppression imply the devaluation of the subjectivity of the oppressed."[36]:S18 She later notes that self-valuation and self-definition are two ways of resisting oppression. Participating in self-awareness methods helps to preserve the self-esteem of the group that is being oppressed and help them avoid any dehumanizing outside influences.

Marginalized groups often gain a status of being an "other".[36]:S18 In essence, you are "an other" if you are different from what Audre Lorde calls the mythical norm. "Others" are virtually anyone that differs from the societal schema of an average white male. Gloria Anzaldúa theorizes that the sociological term for this is "othering", or specifically attempting to establish a person as unacceptable based on a certain criterion that fails to be met.[34]:205

Individual subjectivity is another concern for marginalized groups. Differences can be used as a weapon of self-devaluation by internalizing stereotypical societal views, thus leading to a form of psychological oppression. The point Collins effectively makes is that having a sense of self-value and a stable self-definition not obtained from outside influences helps to overcome these oppressive societal methods of domination.

Intersectionality in practiceEdit

Intersectionality can be applied to nearly all fields from politics,[44][45] education[16][26][46] healthcare,[47][48] employment, to wealth and property.[49] For example, within the institution of education, Sandra Jones' research on working class women in academia takes into consideration meritocracy within all social strata, but argues that it is complicated by race and the external forces that oppress.[46] Additionally, people of color often experience differential treatment in the healthcare system. For example in the period immediately after 9/11 researchers noted low birth weights and other poor birth outcomes among Muslim and Arab Americans, a result they connected to the increased racial and religious discrimination of the time.[50] Some researchers have also argued that immigration policies can affect health outcomes through mechanisms such as stress, restrictions on access to health care, and the social determinants of health.[48]

Additionally applications with regard to property and wealth can be traced to the American historical narrative that is filled "with tensions and struggles over property—in its various forms. From the removal of Indians (and later Japanese Americans) from the land, to military conquest of the Mexicans, to the construction of Africans as property the ability to define, possess, and own property has been a central feature of power in America ... [and where] social benefits accrue largely to property owners".[49] One would apply the intersectionality framework analysis to various areas where race, class, gender, sexuality and ability are affected by policies, procedures, practices, and laws in "context-specific inquiries, including, for example, analyzing the multiple ways that race and gender interact with class in the labor market; interrogating the ways that states constitute regulatory regimes of identity, reproduction, and family formation";[51] and examining the inequities in "the power relations [of the intersectionality] of whiteness ... [where] the denial of power and privilege ... of whiteness, and middle-classness", while not addressing "the role of power it wields in social relations".[52]

Law and policyEdit

Intersectionality applies in real world systems within policies, practices, procedures, and laws in the context of political and structural inequalities. Examples include:

Voting Rights Act, Section 5
On 25 June 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the formula used to determine which states are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This decision no longer requires pre-approval by certain states to change voting rules. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Section 5 has blocked laws established in 2012 that restricted voting rights for those of color, the elderly, the disabled and college students in Texas, South Carolina and Florida. After this decision, the Department of Justice sought to block North Carolina's restrictive voting laws.[53]
School to prison pipeline
Zero-tolerance policies in schools have led to a significant increase in disciplinary actions that involve law enforcement officers. A school district in Mississippi has police arrest students for minor classroom disruptions, and a school district in Alabama has a police officer on campus in all high schools. Racial minorities and children with disabilities are often subjected to this institutional system of structural inequality disproportionately to white and able-bodied children.[54]

Social workEdit

In the field of social work, proponents of intersectionality hold that unless service providers take intersectionality into account, they will be of less use for various segments of the population e.g. those reporting domestic violence or disabled victims of abuse. According to intersectionality, the advice of domestic violence counselors in the United States urging all women to report their abusers to police would be of little use to women of color due to the history of racially motivated police brutality, and those counselors should adapt their counseling for women of color.[55]

Women with disabilities encounter more frequent domestic abuse with a greater number of abusers. Health care workers and personal care attendants perpetrated abuse in these circumstances, and women with disabilities have fewer options for escaping the abusive situation.[56] There is a "silence" principle concerning the intersectionality of women and disability, which maintains that there is an overall social denial of the prevalence of the abused and disabled and this abuse is frequently ignored when encountered.[57] A paradox is presented by the overprotection of people with disabilities combined with the expectations of promiscuous behavior of disabled women.[56][57] This is met with limitations of autonomy and isolation of the individuals, which place women with disabilities in situations where further or more frequent abuse can occur.[56]


Researchers in psychology have incorporated intersection effects since the 1950s, before the work of Patricia Hill Collins. Psychology often does through via the lens of biases, heuristics, stereotypes and judgements. Psychological interactions effects span a range of variables, although person by situation effects are the most examined category. As a result, psychologists do not construe the interaction effect of demographics such as gender and race as either more noteworthy or less noteworthy than any other interaction effect. In addition, oppression is a subjective construct, and even if an objective definition were reached person-by-situation effects would make it difficult to deem certain persons as uniformly oppressed. For instance, black men are stereotypically perceived as violent, which may be a disadvantage in police interactions, or attractive,[58][59] which may be advantageous in courtship.[60]

Psychological studies have been shown that the effect of "oppressed" identities is not necessarily additive, but interact in complex ways. For instance, black gay men may be more positively evaluated than black straight men, because the "feminine" aspects of the gay stereotype tempers the hypermasculine and aggressive aspect of the black stereotype.[60][61]


Strong focus on subjective narrativesEdit

According to Rebecca Reilly-Cooper intersectionality relies heavily on standpoint theory, which has its own set of criticisms. Intersectionality posits that an oppressed person is often the best person to judge their experience of oppression; however, this can create paradoxes when people who are similarly oppressed have different interpretations of similar events. Such paradoxes make it very difficult to synthesize a common actionable cause based on subjective testimony alone.[62]

Some commentators have claimed intersectionality can demonstrate a narrative of disadvantage with regards to black women's pay over other groups considered statistically to be underprivileged,[63] others, especially those based on multiple intersections of oppression are more complex.[64]

Inverse hierarchy problemEdit

The blogger Emmi Bevensee's criticism of intersectionality is that it does not eliminate the hierarchy of identity but inverts it in communities that try to practice intersectionality. She argues that this currently manifests itself by ignoring the effect of social capital on intersectional relationships. She goes on to say that the same tendency may present real issues in applying intersectionality far into the future or the past and into non-Eurocentric contexts, and that this creates a paradox in that any truly successful intersectional praxis is the opposite of our current world, with different groups suffering oppression, not a world that has eliminated oppression.[65]

Incomplete class analysisEdit

Intersectional theory sees class as just another intersection, while economic class has a far more complex relationship with other marginalized identities. Marginalized people typically earn less than non-marginalized people, meaning marginalized are more likely to be economically oppressed as well. In this sense economic class is a mechanism of oppression, not just another intersection. For this reason, many marginalized groups can find common cause fighting economic oppression. Coatoan said "To say that poor people of color, queers, or immigrants are not interested or not profoundly impacted by the economy, and instead interested only in reaffirming their identities within existing hierarchies of power, is to work within a rigged zero-sum game for the liberation of a particular oppressed identity at the expense of all the others."[66] Michael Rectenwald accuses intersectional theorists of furthering a neoliberal agenda by discussing only the distribution of resources within our current system of income inequality, without questioning income inequality itself.[67][68]

Encouraging paralyses in attempting perfectionEdit

Rekia Jibrin and Sara Salem argue that intersectional theory creates a unified idea of anti-oppression politics that requires a lot out of its adherents, often more than can reasonably be expected, creating difficulties achieving praxis. They also say that intersectional philosophy encourages a focus on the issues inside the group instead of on society at large, and that intersectionality is "a call to complexity and to abandon over simplification... this has the parallel effect of emphasizing 'internal differences' over hegemonic structures."[68][a] Writing in the New Statesman, Helen Lewis adds that in emphasizing internal differences over hegemonic structures, and having complex and, at times, contradictory recommendations, it can create paralyses because it is not very accessible. "People are not perfect, and they do not have unlimited time and resources. I've given the example of disability, because I think most people would agree that obviously, any public meeting should be accessible to wheelchairs. But what about the deaf? The blind? Should a group of feminists starting their own meet-up in a university hall enlist someone proficient in sign-language in case that's needed? Should they print their leaflets in braille?"[69] Hannah Wilder says that this also complicates building alliances, because imperfect humans cannot live up the standard intersectionality promotes, and may stop attempting intersectionality for this reason,[70] an affect, argues Chris Black, that can create a broader political problem building intersectional alliances or mass movements.[71]

Dismissal as nonacademicEdit

The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt thinks that the conflation of various left-wing causes under the banner of intersectionality trains students to divide people up by their race, gender, other categories, assigning them moral merit based on their level of privilege, which is bad, and victimhood, that is good. To him Intersectionality is a totalizing perspective that reduces all social problems to a simple framework.[72]

Alan Dershowitz derided the theory of intersectionality as the "phoniest academic doctrine I have encountered in 53 years" in academia, during a lecture at Columbia University. Dershowitz sees the concept as an oversimplification of reality that makes LGBT activists stand in solidarity with advocates of Sharia, even though Islamic law denies the rights with the former. He feels that identity politics do not evaluate ideas or individuals on the basis of the quality of their character. Dershowitz argues that in academia, intersectionality is taught with a large influence of antisemitism. He states that Jews are actually more liberal and supportive of equal rights than many other religious sects.[73]

Lack of ideological diversityEdit

Helen Pluckrose argues that intersectional feminism primarily draws on far-left ideologies and ultimately ends up excluding women, lower economic classes, people of colour, LGBT and disabled people who do not share similar political views. Pluckrose also states that these groups are politically diverse and that they often have views that are incompatible with intersectional feminism, or alternatively, they express opinions that it is intolerant of, as it violates intersectional stereotypes of these marginalized groups. Pluckrose argues that proponents of intersectional feminism aren't representative of the groups they claim to represent but rather that "It is clearly misguided to assume that by listening to intersectionals, we are listening to women, people of color, LGBTs and the disabled. We are, in fact, listening to a minority ideological view dominated by people from an economically privileged class who have had a university education in the social sciences and/or the necessary leisure time and education to study intersectionality, critical race theory, queer theory and critical analyses of ableism."[74]

Similarly, Davis (2008) asserts that intersectionality is ambiguous and open ended, and that its "lack of clear-cut definition or even specific parameters has enabled it to be drawn upon in nearly any context of inquiry".[75]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Adewunmi, Bim; Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams. "I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use". NewStatesman. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Collins, Patricia H. (2015). "Intersectionality's definitional dilemmas". Annual Review of Sociology. Annual Reviews. 41: 1–20. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-073014-112142. 
  3. ^ DeFrancisco, Victoria Pruin; Palczewski, Catherine Helen (2014), "Developing a critical gender/sex lens", in DeFrancisco, Victoria Pruin; Palczewski, Catherine Helen (eds.). Gender in communication. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. p. 9. ISBN 9781452220093. 
  4. ^ Webb, Beatrice Potter (1998) [1913]. Lengermann, Patricia Madoo, ed. The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. 
  5. ^ a b Crenshaw, Kimberlé (1989). "Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics". University of Chicago Legal Forum, special issue: Feminism in the Law: Theory, Practice and Criticism. University of Chicago Law School: 139–168. 
  6. ^ Knudsen, Susanne V. (2006), "Intersectionality – a theoretical inspiration in the analysis of minority cultures and identities in textbooks" (PDF), in Bruillard, Éric; Horsley, Mike; Aamotsbakken, Bente; et al., Caught in the Web or Lost in the Textbook, 8th IARTEM conference on learning and educational media, held in Caen in October 2005, Utrecht, The Netherlands: International Association for Research on Textbooks and Educational Media (IARTEM), pp. 61–76, OCLC 799730084, archived from the original (PDF) on 11 December 2006 
  7. ^ a b c d Crenshaw, Kimberlé (July 1991). "Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color". Stanford Law Review. Stanford Law School. 43 (6): 1241–1299. doi:10.2307/1229039. JSTOR 1229039. 
  8. ^ Cooper, Brittany (August 2015), "Intersectionality", in Disch, Lisa; Hawkesworth, Mary, eds. (August 2015). The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199328581 – via Oxford Handbooks Online.  doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199328581.013.20
  9. ^ a b c Browne, Irene; Misra, Joya (August 2003). "The intersection of gender and race in the labor market". Annual Review of Sociology. Annual Reviews. 29: 487–513. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.100016. JSTOR 30036977.  Pdf.
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