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Intersectionality 101

A research guide to support the Women and Gender Studies Intersectionality 101 Workshops.

Overview

"  There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
- Audre Lord, Member of the Combahee River Collective

Definition

Intersectionality is a way of understanding the ways social inequalities sometimes compound themselves and create obstacles that are often overlooked in conventional frameworks 

Origins

The concept behind the term intersectionailty has been used by women of color movements for a long time.

  • Indigenous Feminism- “Indigenous feminism is an intersectional theory and practice of feminism that focuses on decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, and human rights for Indigenous women and their families” -Jihan Gearon (artist, writer, activist) 

  • Combahee River Collective- a group of Black lesbian socialist feminists formed in 1974. They originally coined the term “identity politics” as a way to talk about the intersections in their identities.  Primary authors of the Combahee River Collective statement: Demita Frazier, Beverly Smith, and Barbara Smith. 

    • Identity politics- “We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression” (Combahee River Collective Statement) 
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989 in her article “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics” to talk about the difficulties within the law for talking about discrimination toward Black women. Up to this point, issues around race have historically focused on Black men while issues around gender have historically focused on White women .

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw Defines Intersectionality

In this video, Kimberlé Crenshaw discusses how she "began to use the term 'intersectionality' to deal with the fact that many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice."

Guiding Sources