Intersectionality describes the interrelation and interconnection between various systems of oppression such as race, ethnicity, class, physical ability, age, sexuality, and gender as these factors simultaneously form structures of inequality. It identifies how systems of oppression utilize its power to affect the people whom are most marginalized in society. Intersectionality seeks to transform and manifest new ideas and theories into including the various overlapping structures of inequality that people encounter everyday. Though the overlapping structures of inequality that people experience are hardly examined in society; nevertheless adding to the social injustice and discrimination society still battles today. Thus it is imperative that intersectionality is recognized and addressed in society as intersectionality uses a multidimensional approach in order to combat whitestream feminists, addresses the exclusion of whole groups such as black women, and incorporate all voices to be heard in society.
Whitestream feminism is theorized upon a hierarchy system that organizes itself on arbitrary values in the feminist movement. The women at the “top” of whitestream feminism are generally white women who contain the most power. Those at the “bottom” of whitestream feminism are commonly women of color who have the least power in their feminist movement. Whitestream feminism has a narrow and restricted worldview that form and are formed by oppressive ideologies. However, intersectionality helps feminists put themselves at the center of their organization by highlighting accessibility and equality. This will lead to feminists constantly working to include people in their decision-making and ultimately include everyone in their movement. The reading, Re-Thinking Intersectionality addresses how intersectionality opposes whitestream feminism as intersectionality rejects the single-axis framework commonly embraced by whitestream feminists as intersectionality utilizes a multidimensional approach. This is demonstrated when Nash states, “Finally, intersectionality invites scholars to come to terms with the legacy of exclusions of multiply marginalized subjects from feminist and anti-racist work, and the impact of those absences…” (Nash 195). As intersectionality utilizes a multidimensional approach, it exhibits the relationship between inequality and the factors that serve and create systems of oppression, in order to display how inequality is based upon more than one factor due to structures that interrelate together to marginalize people. Therefore intersectionality challenges whitestream feminism to expand feminist conversations as it demonstrates their shortcomings of not taking on a multidimensional approach by exposing their actions in the exclusion and disregard of women of color experiences.
Society as a whole frequently ignores intra group differences. This disregard in failing to recognize the various structures of inequality can lead to the exclusion of whole groups, such as black women. Black women are a member of two oppressed racial and sexual castes that intersect one another. Society rarely examines or even socially acknowledge how one dimension of inequality can be altered by another. The reading, A Black Feminist Statement describes black women’s acknowledgment of their unique experiences being disregarded in social reforms and in society as a whole when the reading states, “ We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us” ( The Combahee River Collective 117). Consequently if intersectionality is not implemented and recognized in society it can lead to the experiences of whole groups being disregarded, misunderstood, or eliminated, especially those of women of color. Intersectionality shapes the unique experiences of women of color as their experience is often molded by other dimensions of their identities, such as race and gender. The focus on the intersections of race and gender only exhibits the need to account for multiple dimensions of identity when considering how complex society is. Meeting these needs are often constructed according to standards of needs that are predominately white and middle-class. This is discussed in the reading, Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color when Crenshaw states, “Women of color are differently situated in the economic, social, and political worlds. When reform efforts undertaken on behalf of women neglect this fact, women of color are less likely to have their needs met than women who are racially privileged” (Crenshaw 1250). Thus it is imperative that intersectionality is addressed in society as it has been a source of resilience, community, and intellectual development in creating a voice for those who have been consistently excluded in society.
Intersectionality is important to be addressed, understood, and implemented in society because it attempts to reformulate ideas and theories into incorporating the unique experiences of those most marginalized in society. Intersectional analyses is information created from and about the experiences of oppressed and marginalized people. It exhibits these domains of power and reveal how structures of oppression are created and maintain through multiple aspects of identity concurrently. An intersectional analysis allows people to see through a critical analytic lens to contest the existing ways of looking at these structures of inequality. This allows people to apply the knowledge analyzed through intersectionality in an effort to show the various impacts of the presence of racial and gender inequality and to unveil how power works to separate society based upon its differences. The reading, Critical Thinking About Inequality: An Emerging Lens demonstrates how intersectionality can provide the knowledge and step needed toward eliminating inequality and social injustice by incorporating all voices to be heard in society. This is illustrated when the authors state,“ Because intersectional work validates the lives and stories of previously ignored groups of people, it is seen as a tool that can be used to help empower communities and the people in them” (Dill & Zambrana 191).
Intersectionality displays a continuous social justice mission that seeks to advocate for public policies that are responsive to diverse voices. It challenges conventional understandings of oppressed and excluded groups in an effort to improve society, by apprehending and explaining the lives and experiences of marginalized people. Intersectionality promotes social justice and social change to create a holistic approach to the eradication of disparities as it creates a greater comprehension among groups of people. It reveals, interprets, and analyzes the stories of marginalized people to empower their voice, so society will no longer hear, but will listen. Thus intersectionality is not only providing understanding, but is utilizing this understanding to change and improve society for a better future.