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Muda69

Intersectionality 101

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https://reason.com/2019/06/17/intersectionality-101/#comments

Quote

The Women's March came to Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump's inauguration. Its purpose was to call attention to the incoming president's history of appalling behavior toward women—behavior to which Trump had all but admitted in the infamous hot-mic moment during an Access Hollywood taping. "When you're a star, they let you do it," Trump had said. "You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy."

This was a statement that rightly offended millions of Americans of all political stripes—Trump's electoral fortunes were never lower than immediately after the tape's release—and thus the march held the promise of uniting the country around a universal, positive message: It's not OK to abuse women.

..,.

"I hated it," said Ma'at, a student of color at American University. "It was super cis-centric. It was exclusive of trans identities. It was whitewashed. It just in general was very co-opting and ineffective."

"I just felt like it wasn't very sincere," said Yanet, a student of color at the University of Maryland. "It just felt like a moment for people who aren't as involved or didn't care before to feel like, 'Oh, I did something.'"

"Insincere" and "ineffective" will strike many readers as surprising ways for leftist activists to describe the most well-attended mass march in four decades. But it makes perfect sense when one considers the priorities of the new activist culture, which prefers quality—intellectual purity—over quantity. A protest is successful only if it highlights the correct issues, includes the right people—people who check all the appropriate boxes—and is organized by a ruling coalition of the most oppressed. This is what intersectionality dictates.

Though the words intersectionality and inclusion sound like synonyms, they are actually in conflict with each other—a conflict perfectly encapsulated by the Women's March and activists' dissatisfaction with it. In case there was any confusion, Roxane Gay, a celebrated feminist author and voice of the left, tweeted this in response to the idea of people who oppose abortion participating in the event: "Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That's not how it works!"

Intersectionality is the operating system for the modern left. Understanding what it means and where it comes from is essential for comprehending the current state of activism on college campuses, at protests in major cities, and elsewhere.

Put simply, the idea is that various kinds of oppression—racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, economic inequality, and others—are simultaneously distinct from each other and inherently linked. They are distinct in the sense that they stack: A black woman suffers from two kinds of oppression (racism and sexism), whereas a white woman suffers from just one (sexism). But they are also interrelated, in that they are all forms of oppression that should be opposed with equal fervor. For instance, a feminist who isn't sufficiently worked up about the rights of the gay community is at odds with the tenets of intersectionality. She is a feminist, but she is not an intersectional feminist.

...

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and Columbia University, coined the term intersectionality in her 1989 paper "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex." She needed a word to describe the lives of black women who were discriminated against because of both their race and their sex. Their experiences were fundamentally different from those of black men, who were privileged to the extent that they were men, and from those of white women, who were privileged to the extent that they were white.

"Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another," wrote Crenshaw. "If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination."

...

What began at the intersection of race and sex now includes economic class, gender identity (the gender category to which a person feels attachment, which may be different from the person's biological sex), gender expression (the way a person looks and behaves), sexual orientation, immigration status, disability status, age, religious belief (though certain believers—such as Muslims—are perceived as more oppressed than others), and size (whether you are overweight or not).

In practice, intersectionality frequently forces the left to engage in self-cannibalism. Not all victims of oppression get along, since they're quite often in tension with each other. The intersectional progressive says, in effect: "We must fight racism, and sexism, and homophobia, and transphobia, and the Trump administration's immigration policies, and the wealthy, and global warming, and anti-Muslim bigotry, and ableism, etc." There are millions of people, though, who want to fight some of these things but not others—and if intersectionality requires them to commit to every single cause at once, they simply won't.

...

There are three main problems with intersectionality: the education problem, the perfection problem, and the coalition problem.

First, the problem of education. One important implication of intersectionality is that the sole authority on an individual's oppression is the individual in question. White men who are heterosexual and cisgender shouldn't try to "mansplain" the struggles of black women or people of color: They aren't oppressed, so they can never understand what it's like, even if they happen to be extremely progressive or well-educated about left-wing causes.

At the same time, "it's not my job to educate you" is one of the most frequently recited catchphrases in activist circles. "It is not my responsibility as a marginalized individual to educate you about my experience," wrote Elan Morgan in a popular Medium post, which provided 21 arguments for why that statement was correct. The feminist news website Everyday Feminism has highlighted the work of YouTuber and transgender activist Kat Blaque, who opined in a video that it is "demeaning and dehumanizing to explain to people of privilege why people like them have historically and currently oppressed people like me." And in an article for HuffPost, the feminist writer Melanie Hamlett wrote: "Dear Men, It Is Not My Responsibility to Explain Feminism to You." Doing so, she said, required too much "emotional labor."

But here we have an obvious issue: Asking people about their oppression—even earnestly, out of a sincere desire to become better educated—is discouraged, and there's no other way to gain this knowledge, since the oppressed themselves are the only acceptable experts. This makes it frustratingly difficult to have supportive conversations about oppression, let alone tense ones.

The second problem, which follows logically from the first, is the perfection problem. Very few people can grasp with 100 percent accuracy the various requirements of intersectional progressivism, given that they aren't allowed to interrogate the oppressed, who are the only source of knowledge about their oppression. I once saw this issue explained perfectly in a blog post, written by a woman complaining about all that was required of her. "As an ally, my job is to not impose my own beliefs of what's 'right,' but instead amplify the voices of the oppressed people that I'm trying to be an ally for," she wrote. "Except that I shouldn't bug them about educating me, because that's not what they're there for. And it's my duty to talk about the issue of oppression in question, because it's the job of all of us, rather than the oppressed people, to fix it. Except that when I talk, I shouldn't be using my privilege to drown out the voices of the oppressed people. Also, I should get everything right, 100% of the time. Including the terminology that the oppressed people in question themselves disagree on."

Even the most well-intentioned person is bound to slip up. My Facebook feed recently served up a note from someone asking for help finding shelter for a wheelchair-bound neighbor. The immediate reply was this: "The only resource I have for you at the moment is in regards to the words wheelchair bound," accompanied by a link to a HuffPost article titled "Stop Saying 'Wheelchair-Bound' and Other Offensive Terms." You probably didn't know wheelchair-bound was offensive terminology—I certainly didn't—and in any case, you shouldn't ask someone in a wheelchair what the correct terminology is, because it's not that person's job to educate you.

...

The third problem, which grows out of the first two, is the coalition problem: The demands of intersectionality make it extremely difficult to form strategic relationships for the purpose of advancing a single issue.

Take legalizing marijuana, for example. There are a lot of Americans who subscribe to a diverse range of ideologies with some interest in the issue. There are liberals and leftists who think using marijuana is no big deal, there are libertarians who think the government has no right to tell consenting adults what they can put in their own bodies, and there are even some conservatives who think enforcing federal marijuana prohibition is a waste of law enforcement resources and a blow to states' rights. People from all three of these groups could and should work together to advance the cause, despite their myriad differences on other issues. But intersectionality gets in the way, since the intersectional progressive only wants to work with people who oppose all the various strains of oppression—not just the ones relevant to the narrow issue of marijuana policy.

It's difficult to imagine that the campaign for gay marriage would have gone as relatively smoothly as it did had intersectionality been as ubiquitous a decade ago as it is today. This was in some sense the last nonintersectional leftist cause: Activists who supported it were extremely disciplined and specifically avoided tying it to other, more fringe issues. Believers in same-sex marriage, in fact, worked tirelessly to bring people on the political right into the movement, stressing that gay couples only wanted legal equality and sought to form the same kinds of family arrangements that social conservatives believe are desirable for society. The marriage equality movement even turned to Ted Olson, a Republican and former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, to represent it in the lawsuit against California's Proposition 8, which had banned gay marriage in the state.

One of the strongest voices on this issue was Andrew Sullivan, a gay right-of-center writer who made the case for same-sex marriage in a 1989 New Republic article: "Marriage provides an anchor, if an arbitrary and weak one, in the chaos of sex and relationships to which we are all prone," he wrote. "It provides a mechanism for emotional stability, economic security, and the healthy rearing of the next generation. We rig the law in its favor not because we disparage all forms of relationship other than the nuclear family, but because we recognize that not to promote marriage would be to ask too much of human virtue. In the context of the weakened family's effect upon the poor, it might also invite social disintegration."

That's a fundamentally conservative argument, crafted specifically to appeal to people on the right. And it worked. Support for gay marriage increased from 27 percent in 1996 to 67 percent two decades later. It is now legal everywhere in the United States.

This happy development is in large part due to the work of a coalition that would be impossible to put together in the age of intersectionality. Sullivan and Olson would almost certainly have been chased away by activists refusing to engage with them due to their conservative views on other policy matters.

...

A hopelessly divided opposition movement that cannot resist cannibalizing itself over intersectionality-induced disagreements is not going to be very effective. In fact, it's probably a good recipe for the continued political dominance of the Trump coalition.

Nice explanation by Mr. Soave.    Insanity, all of it.  As one of the comments to this story states:

"All this essentially frivolous activist BS makes me proud–proud that other values, like personal liberties, free markets, rule of law, and some cliches like hard work and personal sacrifice, have created a modern industrialized life that is so easy and supportive for hundreds of millions of people. And it must be easy, or these thousands (millions?) of nut jobs would be busy trying to survive (if they exsited at all)."

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1 hour ago, Muda69 said:

Nice explanation by Mr. Soave.

I had never read any of Robby's stuff before. I've read plenty by his brother Rico.

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1 hour ago, gonzoron said:

I had never read any of Robby's stuff before. I've read plenty by his brother Rico.

?  I don't understand.

 

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