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Understanding Intersectionality for Personal Growth


In today’s world, more and more people are recognizing the importance of continually expanding their mental and experiential horizons for the purpose of personal growth. If you find this to be the case for you, now is the perfect time to start grasping new, culturally relevant concepts and realities such as intersectionality. Learn more about what this term means and why it is relevant in contemporary contexts by reviewing the information outlined below:

What Is Intersectionality?

As noted in Wikipedia, intersectionality is essentially an analytic framework that strives to identify and analyze how various systems of power work together to oppress individuals who are oftentimes marginalized by society. As such, intersectionality involves the ongoing interrogation of the interlocking role that age, sexual orientation, race, disability, class, and gender play in oppressing people.

Who Coined The Term?

The term intersectionality is attributed to social theorist and law professor Kimberle Crenshaw. She coined the term in a paper published in 1989 entitled “Demarginalizing The Intersection of Race And Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory And Antiracist Politics.” While the term is attributed to Crenshaw, discourse and critique of the topic did not originate with her. In fact, numerous black feminists had taken up the subject in previous decades. For example, many black feminists pointed out that the mainstream feminist movement was predominantly white and middle-class. This discourse oftentimes led into discussions of how women of color are oppressed in ways that are distinct from white women given the fact that they exist as both black and female.

Concrete Examples

There are a wide range of social realities and cultural trends which make the role that interlocking systems of oppression play in perpetuating oppression plain. For example, many black feminists have pointed out that the forms of subjugation experienced by white women under patriarchy are different from their own. One commonly cited example is the proclivity of white feminists to reference the role of “homemaker” as oppressing women by confining them to a cult of domesticity marked by the ongoing performance of unpaid, unstimulating labor such as meal preparation and cleaning. As a result of racism, many black women have been and are still required to work outside of the home in order to support their families. Thus the reference to the female homemaker as an example of discrimination against women unwittingly unveils the reality of intersectionalism by demonstrating how being both black and female creates social realities which preclude women of color from experiencing the world the same way that white women do.

Another social phenomenon that points towards the relevance and reality of intersectionalism is pay disparity. For example, black men and white women make roughly $0.74 and $0.78 to the dollar earned by white men. On the other hand, black women make a mere $0.64 to the dollar, thereby conveying the way that interlocking systems of oppression (race and gender) play in creating a world marked by profound economic disparities.

Intersectionality And Personal Growth

As with many other aspects of life, intersectionality is a social reality that can be utilized to metabolize an individual’s personal growth. As noted in “What is intersectionality, and what does it have to do with me?,”intersectionality can be integrated into an individual’s view of the world in many ways. For example, you can recognize the reality of difference by understanding that statements like “All women feel this way” do not reflect the truth that women from disparate backgrounds may experience their lives in unique, disparate ways. Seeking out other points of view and taking the time to participate in activist causes is another strategy that can be deployed to generate personal growth.

Expand Your Horizons Now!

If you’re serious about making personal growth a permanent component of your approach to life, now is the time to recognize the role that understanding and responding to the reality of intersectionalism can play in helping you do so. Review the information found in this article to gain and maintain a clear understanding of what intersectionalism is and how to use your acquired knowledge to live in a more open-minded, effective manner.

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