On Intersectionality, Empathy, and Feminist Solidarity. Alison Bailey - - Peace and Justice Studies 18 2: According to Zack there has been a crisis in academic and professional feminism since the late s.
One version which has been appropriated by institutional liberal politics could be called "liberal identity politics" and most famously deployed by neoliberal figures such as Hillary Clinton during her election campaign.
On the other end we have a version that pushes back to the roots of the concept rooted in Black socialist feminism see here, here and emancipatory radical left politics see here, here.
This piece by writers and activists Abbey Volcano and J. Rogue presents an overview of liberal conceptions of "intersectionality" and outlines an anarchist and class struggle approach.
It was originally published in the third edition of Quiet Rumours: By Abbey Volcano and J. Rogue "We need to understand the body not as bound to the private or to the self-the western idea of the autonomous individual-but as being linked integrally to material expressions of community and public space.
Intersectionality sprang from black feminist politics near the end of the s and beginning of the s and is often understood as a response to mainstream feminism's construction around the erroneous idea of a "universal woman" or "sisterhood. Rather than distinct categories, intersectionality theorizes social positions as overlapping, complex, interacting, intersecting, and often contradictory configurations.
Toward an Anarchist Critique of Liberal Intersectionality Intersectionality has been, and often still is, centered on identity. Although the theory suggests that hierarchies and systems of oppression are interlocking, mutually constituting, and sometimes even contradictory, intersectionality has often been used in a way that levels structural hierarchies and oppressions.
This concept can be useful, especially when it comes to struggle, but the three "categories" are often treated solely as identities, and as though they are similar because they are "oppressions. Since everyone experiences these identities differently, many theorists writing on intersectionality have referred to something called "classism" to complement racism and sexism.
This can lead to the gravely confused notion that class oppression needs to be rectified by rich people treating poor people "nicer" while still maintaining class society.
This analysis treats class differences as though they are simply cultural differences. In turn, this leads toward the limited strategy of "respecting diversity" rather than addressing the root of the problem.
This argument precludes a class struggle analysis which views capitalism and class society as institutions and enemies of freedom. We don't wish to "get along" under capitalism by abolishing snobbery and class elitism.
Rather, we wish to overthrow capitalism and end class society all together. We do recognize that there are some relevant points raised by the folks who are talking about classism-we do not mean to gloss over the stratification of income within the working class.
Organizing within the extremely diverse working class of the United States requires that we acknowledge and have consciousness of that diversity.
However, we feel it is inaccurate to conflate this with holding systemic power over others - much of the so-called middle class may have relative financial advantage over their more poorly-waged peers, but that is not the same as exploiting or being in a position of power over them.
Capitalism is a system of exploitation where the vast majority work for a living while very few own i. The term classism does not explain exploitation, which makes it a flawed concept. We want an end to class society, not a society where classes "respect" each other.
It is impossible to eradicate exploitation while class society still exists. To end exploitation we must also end class society and all other institutionalized hierarchies.
This critical issue is frequently overlooked by theorists who use intersectionality to call for an end to "classism.Although the theory suggests that hierarchies and systems of oppression are interlocking, mutually constituting, and sometimes even contradictory, intersectionality has often been used in a way that levels structural hierarchies and oppressions.
As a “critical social theory,” intersectionality already lies at the roots of contemporary cultural studies, and the best work in cultural studies has the capacity for or is already engaging with intersectionality as method. This is work that accounts for the multifaceted nature of subjects, institutions, processes, and structures as it asks its questions about cultural objects, experience.
Intersectionality theory is a branch of social theorizing focused on the e ects of occupying multiple demographic categories. 1 It arose from the work of black feminists who highlight ways in which theories of oppression (and policies based upon them) can fail to take into.
intersectionality theorists such as Kimberlé Crenshaw, bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, and Audre Lorde then continued this line of thought in the mids and early s. Hill Collins theory is more closely related to the dialectical relationship between conditions (political economy, segregation, and ideology) and everyday life, in .
About the Writer I'm a former marketing associate + current sociology PhD candidate. I write about Black feminism and digital technology. Learn more here.