Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Part 1, official definition and an analogy:
Intersectionality refers to the simultaneous experience of categorical and hierarchical classifications including but not limited to race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality…
This part of the definition reminds me of those little Russian “nesting dolls” made out of wood, where a figure representing one thing (say, a girl, like the image to the left) is not just one doll but as you “open her up” reveals several dolls of decreasing size. Of course if this were a true representation of intersectionality, each doll would be a little bit different to represent all her “sections,” i.e., her race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc.
Part 2 (continuing the definition):
…It also refers to the fact that what is often perceived as disparate forms of oppression, like racism, classism, sexism, and xenophobia, are actually mutually dependent and intersecting in nature, and together they compose a unified system of oppression. Thus, the privileges we enjoy and the discrimination we face are a product of our unique positioning in society as determined by these social classifiers. (Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D., thought.com 7/19)
In the second half of the definition, things get not only dark but also increasingly problematic by suggesting that each aspect of the individual and in society at large is integrally connected to the others as a kind of collective by-product of “social classifiers”; thus, the more the classifiers (and sections), the worse the oppression.
What could go wrong with that?
Whereas part of my analogy might be a bit, well, wooden, it is clear that in reality (and on the streets and in the halls of power) this is some ominous political scene, whether just within the multiply-oppressed individual, or within her intersectional groups who would then need to presumably war with the oppressors in order to become free, autonomous human beings and/or to be able to lay down the bricks and bats and get back to living.
Maybe the groups (which have grown quickly in number) might even war with each other because it might be discovered that one of them might have been oppressed by another at some point in history.
For example, the case of Blacks in the current iteration of the reparations movement where it has come to light that some of their comrades-in-arms may actually be descendents of Black slave owners. Yes, in America in the 1800s. Oops! Then what? They might have to turn on each other.
So the whole movement could get a lot more complicated and messy, the more there is over which to get angry and fight…
It used to be we celebrated diversity in America, diversity of gender, race, creed, culture, and religion. Where we disagreed, we solved problems, learned civility. Most of us are old enough to remember those days.
I mean whatever happened to America’s motto: E Pluribus Unum (“out of the many, one”) and that “one” strived for true tolerance?
With the advent of modern intersectionality, however, it seems we’ve split off into increasingly smaller, angrier groups fighting against the “privileged,” which is another co-opted, recently politicized term meaning, if you don’t agree with the politics of the oppressed then you must cease and desist.
Talk about trouble in the nest, as it were, whether within an individual or an entire nation. And, if not curbed, well, see what I mean about chaos?
Of course, chaos works well for those who would like to fundamentally transform the United States because chaos from within the population especially where there is also chaos within individuals themselves, is the ultimate, multi-sectional, you might say, Trojan Horse.
When groups of people are led to believe, as noted above, “the privileges we enjoy and the discrimination we face are a product of our unique positioning in society as determined by these social classifiers,” that is to say, if our “locus of control” is external (i.e., we are controlled by what others think, feel, say and do) instead of internal (we act on our own motivations and beliefs), we short-circuit our dreams, hopes, and goals by the beliefs, definitions–and politics–of other people.
And if those other people have conquest and control in mind, we may well be the proverbial sheep led to the slaughter.
Resist the chaos of intersectionality politics.
It all starts here: Think (i.e., observe, analyze, discern, critique, choose, and proceed) For Yourself.
Thank you Phyllis for your clear explanation of intersectionality. The irony is that the shrill groups who oppose what they perceive to be oppression and discrimination become oppressive and discriminating in their aggressive campaigns, all competing with one another to shout the loudest and shout down anyone who opposes them. We’ve all heard of ‘the Deep State’, now we have the ‘Deep Left’ throwing tantrums everywhere, like spoilt children. Here in the UK we have Extinction Rebellion, an extreme climate-change mob of eco-warriors and anarchists currently causing mayhem in London. Reasoned debate is no longer possible with a baying mob alienating the general public, disrupting people’s lives and livelihoods.
That dripping sound that gets louder and louder by the day?–irony, eh?
Sadly, the only “extinction” for the extinction warriors will be their youth–that will be left, at length, in the rubble of wasted time, talent, and quite possibly, civilization the way things seem to be going, the way emotion screams above reason and manipulative political babble overpowers common sense.
All we can do is carry on in each our own ways.