Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Have you been puzzled by the latest hip political term “intersectionality”?
In the ever-morphing and expanding lexicon of political terms–and their ramifications– intersectionality is the “theory of interlocking oppressions that states that those who are most marginalized in society are those who fall under multiple forms of minority social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, disability, gender, and gender identity.”
(And the more the groups one belongs to, the greater the marginalization/oppression.)
The term sounds like a lot of political gobbledygook to people still trying to employ logic and critical analysis to address the ills of society, but intersectionality is an important new term because it defines (and codifies) the invention of a whole new (multi-faceted) category of oppressed people.
This new group of the oppressed has a multi-part case for which they can now not only claim/demand special recognition but also lobby for compensation, perhaps even reparation, from their oppressors, present and past, for not just one but for as many groups as apply.
(And the more the groups the better the compensation?)
But not just “more” in terms of attention and recognition (and bucks) but “more” as in ways to shut down the opposition, too.
If At First, the Accusations Don’t Succeed, Multiply…
As the new intersectionalists learn all about who and what has oppressed them, before, during, and after birth, by old and new victim groups ever ready to explain (of course some, rightly so), they have a mechanism whereby to win just about any verbal sparring match by fluidly moving from one group to another with name calling and insinuation* if just one isn’t enough to shut down debate or even rational conversation.
They can now accuse their opponents of any combo of bad names that come to mind such as, for example, sexist and racist, maybe also homophobic and age-ist, mixing and matching ’em for greater and longer-lasting effect while the accused begin the mind-bending and time-taking task of trying to figure out what the terms all might mean, if not known, and how the cluster of insults might apply. Perhaps how they might defend themselves…
And while they are trying to figure all this out in order to move the conversation forward to sense and solutions, time is money and power to those fluid in intersectionality-speak.
Judging by the ever-expanding list of just one category of oppressed people–those of various and sundry sexual orientation classifications–there may even be more insults to be hurled at any minute, more categories of oppression for which to be compensated in some way, and certainly more power in the marketplace of power-mongers who know well how to exploit the losses of victim groups for their OWN gains.
This kind of verbal abuse, i.e., gathering accusatory terms and taking aim, is akin to a subject-avoidance strategy psychologists call “word salad” used to confuse and/or shut the other person up, among other uses. Then, add some virtue-signaling wrapped up in a false-flag of compassion, and it is even more advantageous–and exploitative–for the politically ambitious, and/or for those whose political training (in and out of school) has included very little real history and social studies but very much on how to craft the rhetoric that goes along with the name-calling, as opposed to how to debate, or even have a civil conversation. Meanwhile, the word salad victim is shaking his/her head, frustrated.
If that all sounds confusing, the process is meant to be confusing, if you think about it. It’s a lot like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks in order to know if it’s “done,” only the pasta is word-based and the hurler is “done” when the accused shuts up.
But if the (multiply) accused does manage to dodge the slings and arrows of blame, the accuser can add one more (also new) insult by accusing his/her opponent of being “White-privileged (and there are other categories of “privilege” used for political purposes), which somehow means he or she, due only to skin color, is innately unable to comprehend and/or overcome his/her ” “ists,” “isms,” and/or “phobias,” thus he/she cannot possibly be as compassionate/compliant/generous as intersectionalists desire.
Thus the next step: the dividing (also by multiplying) and conquering via the introduction and enactment of legislation mandating compensation/reparation because the privileged will never probably “get” their full blame because, presumably, they are blinded by, or even completely unaware of, their privilege**. So they might just have to be, ah, forced. (Heard of the also ever-growing list of “hate crimes.“?)
In short, if all else fails, accuse your opponent of racism, but in this case, genetically imbued racism of which he or she may not (yet) even be aware.
And THEN watch your opponent shut up.
With the use of the new politically-infused term intersectionality–and its ramifications–there’s no winning to be had, the “eye of man” never satisfied, the spirit ever greedy, the mind ever fluid…
Thus, intersectionality gains attention, power, and money not by “dividing” to conquer, but by “multiplying”.
How to Counter the Politics of Intersectionality
- Know the enemy, in this case, politicized words (especially new ones) and their ramifications,
- refuse to allow others to use their words to identify your reality,
- in order to avoid the word salad, as someone once said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No'”, and
- remain focused on truth.
This will save time, words, money, and sanity.
Maybe even what’s left of civilization.
*For a good illustration of the mental and verbal fluidity of intersectionality-speak, also for how such talk/think can be used by sufficiently-skilled practitioners (some might say sufficiently-propagandized practitioners) in an attempt to shut down other viewpoints, consider:
**For some word salad on the new political term “White privilege,” consider: “According to Peggy McIntosh, whites in Western societies enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience, as “an invisible package of unearned assets“. White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice…” (as quoted here) (emphasis added)