intersections

Re: “intersectionality”: Intersections can diminish as well as intensify. Take Kamala Harris as an example. A woman and a minority (a Jamaican father and an Indian mother): the intersection of these theoretically increases her cultural marginalization. But wait: both of her parents were also academics at elite universities, first as students and later as faculty and researchers. Such an economic and cultural placement forms a vector that, intersecting with others, diminishes Harris’s marginalization. (One could go into her story in more detail: for instance, her parents divorced when she was quite young — that adds another vector of social force that should be accounted for. One could also go into anyone else’s story in such detail, if one is interested in a full accounting of a person’s social placement. A big “If,” these days.)

People who fancy themselves theorists of intersectionality are only interested in intensifications: intensifications whether of privilege (white + male + heterosexual) or of marginalization (black + female + homosexual). The diminishments are just as real; but they’re not as useful. At least for those who, while they may like their gender identities on a spectrum, like their political narratives binary.

March 29, 2019

In Uncategorized

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