The notion of Intersectionality can be defined as a concept that connects oppressive notions of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism and genderism. These notions are all interconnected and play a major role in one’s life. Kimberlé Crenshaw presented the term of intersectionality as she was aiming to make a statement about the marginalization of colored women and the anti-discrimination laws but also with a feminist perspective which lead her to create the margins within intersectionality that addressed the ways in which social movements establish any discourse that does not fit in with societal norms (Carbado, Crenshaw, Mays, & Tomlinson, 2013).
Within a western lens, intersectionality can impact an individual in a negative way. In addition, intersectionality connects the perceptions of racial challenges, linguistic differences, socioeconomic status, and sexist oppression and how they operate within a society and how it can impact one’s life negatively (Orelus, 2012). Intersectionality can be described as multiple discourses that intersect with each other whether it involves race, one’s gender, class in society or other characteristics.
The notion of intersectionality can be applied to many individuals and used as a useful tool as it can help contest the intertwined preconceptions about oppressive groups. This article will argue why intersectionality needs to be addressed and why it can be used a powerful tool when addressing the social equality and the injustices towards specific groups such as gender, sexism, class, and racism. Gender and intersectionality interact together in many forms and in institutions such as universities, the workforce and a political sphere. These institutions greatly influence and shape how people are perceived and treated. Rodó-de-Zárate and Baylina found that race and gender could not be evaluated by themselves when using an intersectional lens, because neither of them is mutually exclusive (2018).
Gender plays a powerful roll in the complex yet dynamic understanding of societal roles. An interesting point that Dei made was that our personalities, physical and mental identities are constantly changing they are not fixed characteristics, and individual is constantly comprising their version of their best self (2016). The oppression of gender is very prominent in society, Salem believes that all the feminist contributions that were made from women of color or migrant women their voices and stories were not told due to their social class, race and gender (2018). In addition, Orelus presents stories of individuals who have experienced oppression throughout their lives, for example, he gathered women, poor working, class people, faculty members at institutions who were either female or people who did not fit into the stereotypical race, and linguistically different students, theses stories that Orelus provided an example that gender and race oppression exist in our daily lives but they function together (2012). We can not overlook the challenges that are faced by people who belong multiple marginalized groups.
Sexism is intermingled with other forms of discrimination such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism or classism. These forms have created the notion of double-discrimination which has been reoccurring in one’s life’s. When people are oppressed and mocked, it is because others many see them as secondary to the normal societal status quo. Sexism has been very apparent in society as men are favored or deemed the norm and in power. Women have been historically oppressed because of the characteristics that are different from males. These notions have been so stigmatized that women still face sexist remarks, treatments and prejudice towards them. Orelus believe that because sexism and patriarchy is so apparent in our society, female professors are faced with a lot of challenges, include the notions that they have to take care of the children and fulfill their domestic chores while teaching students and meeting their tenure requirements (2012). Unfortunately, sexism happens in many public spheres, whether it is institutions, the work face, pay wages or just in public.
When viewing class and racism through an intersectional lens, these notions can create injustice towards many individuals who do not fit into societal classes or fit in with a monocultural society. Both notions co-exist within a social sphere, if one notion is being oppressed, the other will follow. Having a lower class in society will lead to unequal treatment among the individual, also if the individual in not in the visible minority this can lead to racist remarks, ill behavior towards those who do not fit in. Dei makes a statement about racism and class and how a society can be viewed as performing a measurable practice that shows the power relations between people who do not fit in either through class or race (2016). Carbado et al., state that intersectionality is not a fixed concept that is set to a specific social position (2013). Intersectionality can engage with other categories that hold power, such as sexuality, classism, or racism.
These categories can all intersect within a social, political and economic sphere. When assessing situations that involve one’s class, race, gender, sex, disabilities, it is important to hold an intersectional lens. Those who have been treated with oppression, have experienced either multiple or single forces of subjugation, which can create negative effects upon the group or individual. We need to be more aware of how we treat others regardless of these forces. Carbado et al., believe that by unifying the interconnected social constructions that produce power and marginalization and as humans we need to appeal and oppose the existing paradigms that continue to create these negative dynamics (2013). As a human race, it is important we take into account of people’s overlapping personalities and identities and their personal experiences in order to understand the complexity of intersectionality. Intersectionality can be used as a powerful tool but in order to change these power dynamics, from a social, cultural and economic perspective need to be aware of these marginalized groups and to treat them with equality.