Culture Wars, recent, Social Science

I Know what Intersectionality Is, and I Wish it Were Less Important

Having gestated in academia, Intersectionality has escaped into the broader world. It’s a foundational doctrine of third-wave feminism. It’s long had its own study group—the section on race, gender, and class—within the American Sociological Association, with an intellectual heritage in works by Patricia Hill Collins and Evelyn Nakano Glenn that preceded Kimberlé Crenshaw’s 1989 coinage of the i-word. Intersectionality has garnered increasing attention in the past few years, but its big coming out party occurred in December of last year when Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted that “our future is … intersectional.”

So it was timely that Anne Sisson Runyan published a primer in the November-December 2018 issue of Academe entitled “What Is Intersectionality and Why Is It Important?” Runyan does a good enough job of defining Intersectionality, but I honestly wish it were a little less important: as it’s typically practiced, Intersectionality is an intellectual straitjacket and an albatross for activism.

Intersectionality has its roots in both scholarly and activist worlds. By the 1980s, some activists had come to believe that feminism was too oriented to the concerns of white middle-class women. On the academic side was an increasingly nuanced understanding that social class confounded almost any empirical observation about race. By this time scholars were also thinking about the feminization of poverty (represented, in the developed world, by the proliferation of mother-headed families).

As told by Anne Runyan, Crenshaw’s neologism emerged from her study of the unique threat that United States immigration law posed to immigrant women married to American men. Continued residence in the United States required these women to stay married and living together, even when threatened by domestic violence. Put another way, the intersection of two identities (immigration status and sex) creates a unique risk for some women. This is a noteworthy observation, but it’s not immediately apparent why it calls for a new word. Would Crenshaw’s observation be less convincing without the pseudo-theoretical overlay? I suspect not.

Intersectionality implies that differences exist when in fact they may not. Runyan devotes some time to developing the idea that men and women of color experience different kinds of racism. “Gender,” she writes, “is always ‘raced’ [sic] and race is always gendered.” Yet a cursory inspection of American history reveals countless cases where this was not the case. Suppression of African American voters under Jim Crow was not gendered in any meaningful capacity. To focus on gender here is to lose sight of the appalling injustice.

Perhaps it makes more sense to treat Intersectionality as a hypothesis rather than an epistemology: it may or may not hold true for any particular set of conditions. Under this understanding, Intersectionality better describes the plight of immigrant women married to abusive American men than for the injustice of blacks being denied the franchise in Jim Crow America. The facts of the case, empirically investigated by social scientists, can reveal whether an instance of injustice is indeed intersectional.

Some scholars have shown support for Intersectionality using quantitative data. Sociologist Landon Schnabel examined how gender differences in income vary by religiosity, and found evidence of Intersectionality: high-earning men are more religious than low-earning men, but low-earning women are more religious than their high-earning counterparts. Another empirical inquiry comes from Chicanx and Latinx studies scholar Alejandro Covarrubias. Among Latinx, social class, gender, and citizenship status all have distinct effects on educational attainment. One could also imagine rigorous testing of narrow Intersectionality-inspired hypotheses using qualitative data, perhaps via analytic induction.

Despite its demonstrated utility for testing the precepts of Intersectionality, quantitative research fails to pass muster with many intersectional scholars. Some view quantitative methods as ideologically incompatible with intersectional research: statistics are “positivist” or “patriarchal.” It’s evidence for this contention that two different Intersectionality manifestos speak of quantitative research methods as the “master’s tools.”

But does research like Schnabel’s and Covarrubias’s truly represent a test of intersectionality Is Intersectionality really just concerned with how bivariate relationships are contingent on an additional factor or two, or is it a larger project? In other words, who all is invited to the intersectionality party? Runyan isn’t particularly clear on this point, with maddeningly variable lists of categories:

  • racism, sexism, and classism”
  • “race, gender, class, and national origin”
  • “not only on race, normative gender, class, and nation but also on sexuality, nonnormative gender, physical (dis)ability, religion, and age”
  • “racism, classism, neocolonialism, xenophobic nationalism, heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, ageism, Islamophobia, and ecological destruction”
  • “race, national origin, sex, or sexuality”
  • “women, racial minorities, sexual and gender minorities, foreign nationals, the disabled, and so on”
  • “race, class, citizenship status, and sexuality”
  • “gender and other social categories”

As a social scientist I’m naturally resistant to analytic constructs with amorphous definitions. There are also practical problems with an approach that mandates balkanization, or what sociologist Andrew Abbott once flippantly derided as the “lets-make-it-all-contingent-so-we-can’t-interpret-anything-at-all” approach to data analysis. National quantitative data offer an effective means of producing population estimates, but just plain lack the sample sizes to study wealthy white lesbian immigrants—or just about any social group circumscribed by the myriad tenants of Intersectionality. Qualitative data analysis offers an excellent way of studying such a population, but under Runyan’s expansive definition fails as a test of Intersectionality: how would we know if wealthy white lesbian immigrants differ substantively from wealthy white lesbian natives, wealthy white male homosexual immigrants, and so on? Exploring all the categories mooted by Runyan would surely exhaust any ethnographer. Ultimately scholars must rely on Intersectionality by fiat, not scientific inquiry.

But scientific inquiry isn’t necessarily what Runyan has in mind. The sub-title of her article references the “fight for social justice,” not academic research. Most of the time, Intersectionality is just code for a set of beliefs: suspicions of quantitative scholarship (“the master’s tools”), an inchoate criticism of capitalism (derided as “neoliberalism”), a fairly radical view of subjectivity, and a cosmology of race that’s more Coates and less McWhorter.

That having been said, Intersectionality may undermine any activism that truly embraces it, because it highlights division rather than unity of purpose. In January of 2017 millions of people participated in the Women’s March, united in support of women’s right and opposition to President-elect Trump. The vast majority had little awareness of the titular national organization and newly valuable media property. In due time its leadership became riven by anti-Semitism and racial identity politics. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait chronicled a similar fate for a closed Facebook group called Binders Full of Women Writers, which degenerated into scurrilous accusations based on race and social class. Of course these divisions may well have developed in a world without intersectionality, but why make them doctrine? Perhaps this has been on President Obama’s mind in his frequent denunciations of identity politics, most recently in a speech in South Africa to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. “I detest racialism,” Obama quoted the great man as saying, “whether it comes from a black man or a white man.” In a moment of unwitting self-parody, activist Tamela Gordon recently rejected intersectional feminism for being too white.

The second half of the twentieth century produced emancipation movements that attained stunning gains for women, racial and ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians. These movements succeeded because they weren’t intersectional. None, of course, was fully successful, and each produced its discontents; perhaps the most well-known example is the sexism in the leadership of the Civil Rights Moment. This was regrettable, of course, but hardly impugns the broader enterprise. Conversely, opposition to the Vietnam War cost MLK supporters, as did the Poor People’s Campaign in the last year of his life (It’s besides the point that both strike me as laudable endeavors.)

The lesson to draw is that cohesion matters for social movements, and intersectionality threatens that cohesion by highlighting what’s different about all of us rather than what we all have in common. If the future is truly intersectional and female, does that mean Senator Gillibrand is going to get re-elected without the benefit of male votes? Intersectionality may hold a little more promise for scholarly research, but not without sharply limiting its scope. Somehow I sense this is what Kimberlé Crenshaw had in mind all along.

 

Nicholas H. Wolfinger is Professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. He is currently working on a book about the changing economics of single motherhood. Follow him on Twitter at @NickWolfinger

Filed under: Culture Wars, recent, Social Science

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Nicholas H. Wolfinger is Professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. His most recent book is Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos (with W. Bradford Wilcox; Oxford University Press, 2016).

81 Comments

  1. I am left as I started with no understanding of what Intersectionality actually is beyond the obvious that any measured social variable is likely to depend on multiple factors. It has no predictive or economy of description value. Actually it does the opposite tending to make models unnecessarily large and complex.

    That many believe that quantative research is incompatible with intersectionality makes me believe that many practioners of intersectionality believe that their own theories have a significant risk of being discreditted once quantative data is available. Real researchers would see refuting an hypothesis as a positive step.

    • ga gamba says

      It has no predictive or economy of description value.

      It’s value is to open additional lines of grievance to assert being wronged. Crenshaw used a lawsuit against an automaker as the basis for her hypothesis. She argued that being both black and female made the plaintiffs different from being merely black and being merely female.

      The court ruled no discrimination against women had been found. The court ruled that the plaintiffs could pursue a complaint of racial discrimination by joining an existing lawsuit pursuing that claim.

      The court ruled: The initial issue in this lawsuit is whether or not the plaintiffs are seeking relief from racial discrimination, or sex-based discrimination. The plaintiffs allege that they are suing on behalf of black women, and that therefore this lawsuit attempts to combine two causes of action into a new special sub-category, namely, a combination of racial and sex-based discrimination. The Court notes that plaintiffs have failed to cite any decisions which have stated that black women are a special class to be protected from discrimination. The Court’s own research has failed to disclose such a decision. The plaintiffs are clearly entitled to a remedy if they have been discriminated against. However, they should not be allowed to combine statutory remedies to create a new “super-remedy” which would give them relief beyond what the drafters of the relevant statutes intended. Thus, this lawsuit must be examined to see if it states a cause of action for race discrimination, sex discrimination, or alternatively either, but not a combination of both.

      The legislative history surrounding Title VII does not indicate that the goal of the statute was to create a new classification of “black women” who would have greater standing than, for example, a black male. The prospect of the creation of new classes of protected minorities, governed only by the mathematical principles of permutation and combination, clearly raises the prospect of opening the hackneyed Pandora’s box. (Bold text mine.)

      Hocus pocus, that prospect of opening the hackneyed Pandora’s box came to be.

    • Hyzenthlay says

      I think the vagueness of its definition is deliberate. It’s designed to sound more complex and intellectual than it actually is, and in practice it’s just about awarding the most oppression points to whoever can check the most oppressed-identity check-boxes.

      A white person’s opinion can be dismissed by a black person on the basis of race; a black man’s opinion can be dismissed by a black woman on the basis of gender; a straight black woman’s opinion can be dismissed by a black lesbian, and a darker-skinned black lesbian is given more credence than a lighter-skinned black lesbian, etc. etc.

      It’s not surprising that there’s so much divisiveness and infighting. There’s always some basis on which to malign a person as being not diverse enough to know what they’re talking about.

      • Peter from Oz says

        20 years ago friends and I used to play a parlour game called ”fantasy grant recipient” where we would try to invent the most ‘deserving’ person for a grant from the Government. I think it originated from the great Barry Humphries who always had a great appreciation of the absurd.
        My favouraite fantasy grant recipient was the one-armed black lebian puppeteer who was a single mother. SHe was asking for a grant to investigate the production of a 12 hour epic in which marinettes would negage in horizontal folk dancing for peace.
        It seems that we had had invented ”intersectionality” a long time before the poor old academics got hold of it.

      • Indeed. Intersectionality is a rhetorical framework for bullying and power-grabbing. It allows the bully to construct a bulletproof victim narrative and claim the moral high ground, while cornering the victim into an indefensible position. It is the perfect ideological toolkit for bullies as its inevitable conclusion is “you’re wrong because you are X, and you cannot change the fact that you are X, while I am better than you because I’m Y and Z.”

        That’s all there is to it.

    • I can’t leave an original comment, so alas I have to post it as a reply.

      I’ve written about the main theme of this essay: https://medium.com/@jennyasencio/divided-we-fall-18b539cf9476

      What moved me to this was the reality game show Big Brother and an argument that took place between two houseguests, one a wealthy black girl, Bayleigh, and the other a gay Hispanic “little person” named JC. They had a conversation about the gay slur and the Hispanic slur, but when Bayleigh asked JC about the word “midget” and he compared it to the N-word, Bayleigh flipped out, and so did her fans on Twitter. How a wealthy girl of any race is more oppressed than a man (these days, “toxic”) who also happens to be from three other minorities, two of them minorities (gays and little people) that have historically faced violence and murder just for existing, is a prime example of how intersectionality fails us today. By the rules of Oppression Bingo, JC won handily, but in the spirit of Animal Farm, some intersections are more unequal than others!

  2. Constantin says

    Two things come to mind: 1) Intersectionality is the cure for ideologues engaged in a never ending quest to gain brownie points by sounding compassionate and understanding. It is a never ending joy to see them trashed and expelled from the club on account of low intersectional victimhood credentials. Of course, the first ones to go down are white Caucasians, but you need not worry because no one is vaccinated. For this reason, I hope intersectionality runs its full course of mad destruction, before it is relegated to the garbage bin of history where it belongs. 2) Third way feminism and interesectionality are brandished by ideologues who are united in hate for the social order and hierarchies that keeps our world together. Because they do not propose and alternative social order, they are more or less blindly serving the interests of those seeking a centralized model of governance and a utopian “from each according to his or her abilities and to each according to his or her needs” phantasy model of communism. Therefore, no matter how enjoyable the internal destruction, we should be concerned with letting this cancer propagate, less we find ourselves in need of revolution.

  3. K. Dershem says

    I think that “intersectionality” began as a useful and important idea, but it’s been badly misapplied by activists and academics. Identities are complicated — individuals belong to multiple groups that affect how they’re seen and treated by others. For example, I’m a straight, middle-class, able-bodied white male. I don’t face the same kind of challenges that I would if I were gay, poor and/or disabled. Properly understood, “intersectionality” complicates the claim that all white people possess “white privilege.” Even if it’s true that whites (on average) are less likely to experience discrimination in most spheres of society than non-whites, it doesn’t follow that all whites are better off than all non-whites. For example, I’d much rather be a wealthy, able-bodied black man than a severely disabled white person living in poverty. The different facets of our identity affect our lives (influencing but not determining outcomes) in complex ways. This is the core insight of intersectionality. Unfortunately, the concept has been (mis)applied in ways that (1) provide fuel for the “oppression Olympics” (“I’m more downtrodden than you because I fit in three disadvantaged groups, while you’re only in two!”), (2) divide social movements instead of encouraging solidarity (activists too often fixate on differences between them instead of affirming what they have in common), and (3) prohibit individuals who don’t belong to particular groups from stating positions on issues that affect those groups (e.g., only trans people are allowed to express opinions on trans issues).

    • ga gamba says

      I don’t face the same kind of challenges that I would if I were gay, poor and/or disabled.

      Though I agree with much of your comment, I think what I quoted above warrants examination. Is that always true? For example, if you were employed at a gay-owned business where the majority of the employees are also gay, you may find challenges the others don’t experience. And if you lived in Boys’ Town, the part of the city that has a large gay community, you’d be a fish out of water outside work too. I think a way to look at this is the difference between a person who is monolingual and bilingual. Let’s say the straight person is the monologuist. S/he knows all the codes of being straight and very little, if anything, of being gay other than what’s presented in mass media. A gay person is bilingual, much more adroit at code switching and can move between both worlds. Further, even intra-group the challenges faced are not the same by its members. If you were to suddenly to become poor, you might find that another poor person better navigates the benefits systems and other NGO aid agencies because they know the ins and outs. You both face the challenges of being poor, but one of you has more sophisticated know-how to face those challenges. The same can happen when a poor person relocates and has to figure out the new system.

      I think a lot has to do with the given context and how one is placed situationally. It’s all quite fluid and not as fixed as the intersectionalists will have us believe.

      The major flaw with intersectionality is it supposes all of team A is this way and all of team B is that way, which obliterates the individual in the framework. Another flaw is that it pretty much disregards physical attractiveness and intelligence, both of which are the best advantages to possess across all dimensions.

      • andrewilliamson says

        “it pretty much disregards physical attractiveness and intelligence.” This. Because whether people like it or not, these traits are huge drivers of one’s social value. Much, much more than pigmentation.

      • Ga gamba, excellent breakdown. In the end the intersectionalists are guilty of doing exactly what they accuse the evil racists and sexists of doing – stereotyping, gross generalizing. As for beauty and intelligence, I’ve been predicting the day when planned acid attacks take care of the former, and lobotomies the latter. After all, it’s only fair.

        • Fred says

          Have you read Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”? Sounds exactly like what you’re talking about.

      • Not to mention wealth and family connections. I know many very wealthy people who are not white, who’ve never had to work a low wage job or night shifts, whose parents covered their education costs, whose relatives got them a job at their company so they could start in middle management rather than answering phones. They’ve never lived in a bad neighborhood or had to drive a second hand car or struggle to pay rent.
        Apart from the odd childhood bully or slur by a random drunk/bad driver, they have experienced zero ‘oppression’ their entire lives.

      • Num num says

        “…physical attractiveness and intelligence, both of which are the best advantages to possess across all dimensions.”

        Having ‘a personality’ is another huge factor that can bypass many others in allowing an individual to rise in social ranks. Wrapped up in that is being an extrovert, having a sense of humor, being empathic (or at least giving that impression), etc.

        The vast multiplicity of factors underlying the ability to acquire social power make the standard list of intersectional identities cartoonishly and absurdly low-resolution.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @K. Dershem

      Unfortunately, the concept has been (mis)applied in ways…

      If @ga gamba doesn’t mind me saying so – and I’m going to take it on faith that he doesn’t – this quote is what warrants further examination. The fatal flaw of ‘intersectionality’ is baked in. The charlatans who advance this distortion of thought are, of course, willing to overlook it; at least in the general, but less so or not at all in the particular.

      You recognize the problem yourself – “Identities are complicated… individuals belong to multiple groups…” – you’re just not taking it to its logical conclusion. You see the concept hasn’t been ‘(mis)applied’, because in order for it to be misapplied, we would have to grant that it could be ‘applied’ and that’s not obvious at all. Why? Because intersectionality has no limiting principle. That’s the problem. There’s no objective measure, except at the level of the individual. But there’s no utility in that. And these charlatans don’t want to hear about ‘treating people as individuals’ because then everyone’s on equal footing and there’s nothing left to exploit.

      So, we’re back at square one, where everyone is drawing their own lines. Their own arbitrary lines. These people aren’t misapplying the concept because there’s no way to apply it without going down to the individual. Identities are complicated and these hucksters know that. They’ve all kind of agreed in a ‘mutually assured destruction’ kind of way not to ruin it for one another.

      With a wink and a nod, every disciple of this fraudulent practice gets to have their own opinion for where and how these identities should be categorized as long as they don’t encroach to far over onto another’s cash cow. It’s worth noting, incidentally, just how often these categories align (magically it seems) to the maximal benefit of the person who constructed them. Does that at all seem odd to you? Like maybe intersectionality really is nothing but a naked power grab.

      The author certainly seems to have his doubts. He listed a good 20 or 30 viable categories including one that doesn’t even exist: ISLAMOPHOBIA. I don’t know how anyone else feels, but I am of the opinion that when it gets to the point where ideas – you know, ideas that constitute a belief system called Islam – can be oppressed, then we need to start treating it with the contempt it deserves.

      • K. Dershem says

        You may be right that the idea is irredeemable and was fatally flawed from the start … but I’m not necessarily convinced it’s beyond repair. As much as I’d like to think that everyone can be treated as an individual instead of being identified with a group, I don’t think that’s realistic. We make all kinds of assumptions about people based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, social class, religious affiliation, etc. Identities matter, and I think there’s good evidence that some groups are (on average) treated better than others on the basis of their perceived identity. In other words, I think that racism, sexism, heterosexism, class bias et al. remain real despite the enormous progress Western societies have made. Identitarians make the mistake of reifying the differences between us instead of emphasizing our common humanity, and falsely claim that disparities in outcomes between groups is entirely due to discrimination. That said, I think it’s equally wrong to claim that discrimination plays no role whatsoever. Properly applied, the concept of intersectionality can help us understand how the facets of our identities affect how we’re treated. Improperly applied (which happens all too often!), it leads to the kind of absurd abuses I listed in my original post. I don’t think that those abuses are inherent in the concept and therefore unavoidable.

        • D.B. Cooper says

          @K. Dershem

          I appreciate the thoughtful response. I can’t say I disagree with much of what you said. Identities are important. They do matter. And your right, some people/groups are treated differently. There’s numerous reasons for why this occurs – some are legit, others are not – which I would imagine is where our differences lie. In any case, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks, again, for the feedback.

        • ga gamba says

          I don’t think that those abuses are inherent in the concept and therefore unavoidable.

          It is strange then that the concept states the abuses are inherent in all other dimensions and are unavoidable. After all, everyone is affected by the culture and the systemic systems of structural institutions, and intersectionality is a product of both, right? It’s a sleight of hand to argue that abuses are not inherent in one thing but inherent in everything else.

          As much as I’d like to think that everyone can be treated as an individual instead of being identified with a group, I don’t think that’s realistic. We make all kinds of assumptions about people based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, social class, religious affiliation, etc.

          This is not wrong. What is wrong about intersectionality is its monomaniacal fixation on power as the basis of interactions and also the sweeping generalisation that has group A1 treating groups A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, etc abusively. An individual of A1 making an assumption about an individual of C2 cannot be extrapolated as group A1 versus C2, but intersectionality does so. Further, assumptions are not a one-way street, so intersectionality waves this away by stating that an individual of group C2 making a negative assumption about A2 doesn’t matter because C2 doesn’t have power. Intersectionality is adroit at failing to see the interactions of B3 versus D4, E5 versus A3, etc. Why, because it’s fixated on A1, so much so that when B3 abuses D4, the explanation is A1 caused it.

  4. DeplorableDude says

    I’m pretty sure that to most normal people intersectionality is one of the least important things.

    • ga gamba says

      It’s going to affect the judicial system. It’s hitting government and corporate employment. It’s being used for university admissions.

      Ignore it at your peril.

      • david of Kirkland says

        Intersectionality isn’t the problem, it’s the tyrants who will abuse it to coerce others, limit others, and give benefits to special interests over liberty and equal protection. As always, the ideas are fine when government remains the limited enterprise it was intended to be, but of course tyrants eventually learned to coerce others, limit others and give benefits to special interest.

    • Lightning Rose says

      Intersectionality primarily exists in just 2 spheres: Media and the Academy. In everyone else’s life, it’s a burr under the saddle at best. I suppose HR departments have to pay lip service to fashionable PC, but that’s a moving target at best. The real deal here on the ground?

      In the words of Bill, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” Systemic discrimination has been dead in the USA for 40 years now. Most of these “intersectional” groups only exist AS a “group” on paper, or data points if you will. For starters, every immigrant group that has entered this country since 1830 has started at the bottom of the economy (laborers and domestic help) and worked their way up, usually within a generation or two. The lone outlier to that is the Black community, and that mess in modern times can be laid squarely at the feet of one Lyndon B. Johnson. Do we discriminate in hiring and promotion today against those with German, Irish, Italian, Polish, or even Hispanic names? Systemically? NO, we do NOT. Work hard, save money, invest wisely, and you become no different than every native-born American. Resentment = nonexistent. Most of such racial resentment as exists (far less than the media believes) is fueled by the perception of unfair handouts by government, in ways that putting it mildly do not enable the foregoing assimilation of ethnic groups into the larger culture, and DO enable and perpetuate pathological behavior syndromes we’d all be better off without.

      Next point: No one is “discriminating” against women. But women who want to have children face a different set of life trade-offs than men, full STOP. You WILL have to bow out of the career track for at least a few months or years, and by definition you will have a mixed bag of priorities vs. the “company man” who lives to work. BUT–the most physically demanding, dangerous and stressful jobs are overwhelmingly filled by men. (How many females do you see doing aerial tree work, electrical line repair, commerical fishing, landscaping, high-rise construction, butchering cattle or pumping septic tanks?) And BTW, no one expects them to. Which I would take as rather a perk of our society accruing to females. When these ditzy academics enter The Real World, they’ll find a fact of life is that EVERYTHING is a trade-off.

      No commercial situation I am aware of “discriminates” against another group this author mentions, lesbians. When I hire people, the furthest thing from my mind is to wonder about their sexual orientation. Ditto when deciding whom to accept as a client. There are people who’ve been here 10 years whose orientation I have no idea of. I simply don’t care; because sexuality does not remotely enter into the business being conducted.

      OTOH, if someone presented with an outlandish, juvenile costume designed to seek attention, exhibited chip-on-shoulder behavior in ways such as demanding compliance with newly-invented pronouns, or while obviously a man demanded to be treated as a woman, I would NOT hire them because my long experience in business has taught me that dealing with the bat-crap crazy distracts from our purpose. It isn’t worth it. This would be no different if it was a white woman with dreads insisting on being treated as black, strenuous objectors to a reasonable business dress code, those expecting accommodation of multicultural religious observances on company time, or sexual harassers. They can all take their Intersectionality agenda and shove it–elsewhere.

      I actually think we hit Peak Intersectionality around October 2018. They’re starting to swallow their own tail now, like the Ouroborus snake. See “Women’s March” recent antics for evidence.

      BTW–PLEASE don’t use “Latinx” and similar word-bastardizations if you want to be taken seriously. The English language is still a “thing.” Thank You!

      • Peter from Oz says

        LN
        Great comment.
        It is the activists that we disdain not the members of the groups they represent.
        Alternatively if we do disdain any members of a group it is because of their politics, not because of the trait they laim disadvantages them.
        But what I personally dislike the most is the constant whining and whinging of the identarians. Complaint is the only language they can speak. If they really want to achieve something, Why not ask nicely and praise those whom you want to help you? Honey catches more flies than bile.

      • @LR “Intersectionality primarily exists in just 2 spheres: Media and the Academy. ”

        I think it’s firmly established in these 2 spheres but I fear it has gained a bridgehead into other spheres as well. It certainly has entered politics where the would be Democratic nominees are in a race to out PC each other. I also think it has made headway in some of the big corporations such as Starbucks (I’m thinking of the diversity training episode from last year when the black men had the police called on them when they wouldn’t leave the store despite not purchasing anything) and some of the big tech firms like Google.

        Many of the people who will enter management throughout corporate America (and all western countries) in the next decade or two will have spent a few years of far left indoctrination at universities within the recent past, I’m hoping the ruthless nature of capitalism will pit an end to this farce, but I think there may be some painful adjustments in the meantime.

  5. Nonplussed Luddite says

    Jesus this reads like the infighting drivel of a group of fairly useless academics.

    Oh, it’s just so hard to study whether middle class – white – lesbian – immigrants do better than their native counter parts. Did the writer not stop at that point to ask the question of WHY such a thing should be ‘studied’. To call this work social ‘science’ is to make a mockery of real science and the art that is true scientific study and rigour.
    I agree that intersectionality should be less important, but only by virtue of the fact that ‘social science’ of this nature should hold absolutely no importance or relevance in the academy or anywhere in the world. I am by no means saying that the study of people is never relevant or useful, but my god this arm of the academy has been dragged off course so fully and thoroughly that I simply cannot see any use for it in it’s current state.

    Please, someone feel free to educate me on what I’ve missed in either this article or in the wider field…

    • John Titford says

      I think it’s quite clear why we should study whether some groups perform better than others and why. If we can show rigorously that (for a hypothetical example) the justice system treats one ethnic group more harshly than others for equivalent crimes, then we have the opportunity to improve society and hopefully some information about how we can go about doing so.

      Please give an example of the kind of social science that you do deem to be relevant and useful.

      • andrewilliamson says

        “If we can show rigorously that (for a hypothetical example) the justice system treats one ethnic group more harshly than others for equivalent crimes”

        How about gender? We have known for ages that the justice system treats one gender far more harshly, yet what has been done about that?

        This isn’t about redressing wrongs, it’s about punishing groups for grievances and perceived past difficulties.

      • I agree with @andrewwiliamson. Just one example: We have already rigorously proven that men are treated more harshly than women for equivalent crimes.

        You claim that if “we” can show that the justice system treats one group more harshly, then we have the ‘opportunity to improve society and hopefully some information about how…”

        So here is a clear, provable example of the justice system treating one group more harshly–and yet no one seeks to do anything at all about it. Do you? Why not? I can tell you why not–because men are not high on the victimhood pyramid. So the object is not *at all* to right wrongs or inequalities. The object instead is to destroy Western culture. They say this themselves only they call it the “Patriarchy” or “capitalism” or “White culture” or whatever. Anything that doesn’t support their hatred for these things is ignored.

        A separate point– even if we could do something about it, what would we do? Just to return to this example–men are treated more harshly than women. What is your proposal to fix this?

        As far as your larger question–social science ignores multiple groups, including self-identified groups, if they don’t belong to the ‘narrative’ they want or threaten to not give the result they want. For instance, to use a contentious example: Intelligence across race or class. How many social scientists do you know who study this? IT’s a group, and there is ample room for helping others with more information. Yet it is ignored. Or gender for that matter: Right now it is professional suicide to research gendered differences in the brain.

        I think these topics would be very relevant and useful. But social scientists ignore it because the actual goal is not to be helpful; the actual goal is to prove that our society supports the intersectional narrative.

      • The problem is there are false conclusions drawn from things we can show, such as why the judicial system SEEMS to treat black males more harshly. Of course these academics ignore the fact that the group they are studying produces high amounts of criminality and even ignores the fact that many of these sentencing are for multiple crimes and take into account past criminal behavior. Of course they never mention that in their research. So how exactly do we improve groups if nobody is willing to be honest with how these groups are formed and why are they performing the way they are in society?

  6. The author is too deferential: The idea that the term “intersectionality” somehow brought a new and important concept into the world is unjustified academic self-celebration. Demographic data had been categorized and studied along different “intersections” long before the i-word became a thing. And people have always known that if it’s hard to be gay, and hard to be a minority, then it might be especially hard to be both. Or that it’s different to be a working-class black woman and an upper-middle-class black man.

    As we used to say when I was a kid: No duh.

    But it all sounds so impressive when dressed up in the intimidating vocabulary of postmodern academese and infused with the spirit of the fight for social justice.

    As for Gillibrand: She (or her staff) clearly doesn’t know what the i-word means; they just thought it sounded good in an effort to establish “woke” as her brand for the 2020 election. The ensuing ridicule was good to see. The campaign probably had to cancel their order for 100,000 “MAI” hats (Make America Intersectional). Pink and brown with rainbow trim.

    • This is very true. Intersectionality as a definition is so obvious as to be trivial. The problem is that its practitioners don’t even adhere to the definition — they pick and choose which intersections are important, which privileges matter and which don’t, in a way that is consistent with their pre-existing worldview and little more. Totally defies the very point of intersectionality — that you can’t pick and chose.

  7. I first encountered intersectionality in college about ten years ago and went on to a Master of Arts program in Gender Studies before eventually dropping out. I was a true believer in the concept; but over the years, I have privately questioned its efficacy. And that questioning came to a head in the time around the 2016 US Presidential Election.

    One of the issues that I see with how intersectionality has developed over the years is how it focuses on “identity” at the expense of inequality and material circumstances. Economic inequality seems to be the form of inequality that intersectionality is least interested in addressing (maybe even not at all), which is unfortunate because economic issues like living wage, access to health care, college tuition costs, access to child care, et cetera are fundamental existential issues that people of all identity categorizations have in common. These are issues that require broad policy interventions and real change and will not be solved by rhetorical flourishes appealing to “intersectionality.”

    It is no coincidence that high-ranking Democrats have latched onto this concept because it allows them to rhetorically seem as though they are helping to address inequality while they are actually doing very little to challenge the status quo. They continue to be indebted to big money and continue to do the bidding of corporations and the wealthy. The fact that Bernie Sanders has been denounced as a possible “white supremacist” for daring to suggest that candidates for office be judged on their policy positions rather than identity categorizations like race, gender, sexual orientation, et cetera should clue us all in on the negative consequences of the current applications of this concept. Sanders also had the audacity to suggest that not all Trump supporters are racist/sexist/homophobic, and he was similarly pilloried for that. People like to ignore the fact that are substantial numbers of voters voted for Obama twice, voted for Senator Sanders in the primaries, and then voted for Trump in the 2016 general. Political science professor Dr. Adolph Reed has written about how this dynamic that displaces a redistributive economic agenda has effectively displaced a truly Leftist political agenda aimed at improving the lives of all Americans.

    Intersectionality also naturalizes the concept of race in a way that is quite troubling. And by this I mean that it reinforces the idea that race has a biological basis, when, in fact, it has no biological basis. “Race” is a fictional ideology utilized to justify racism and exploitation. To demand a continuous “conversation about race” as if it is a natural, static category is having a deleterious effect on the possibilities of a Leftist politics that seeks to address economic inequality.

    • Lightning Rose says

      Still can’t figure out who doesn’t have “access to health care.” Even a bum who falls down in the street gets the same ambulance ride, the same ER evaluation, the same CT scan and MRI as anyone else. In fact, the bum gets taxpayers to pay for it, unlike most of the rest of us. So this is a BS “argument.”

      • Peter from Oz says

        Well said, LN. I think a lot of people confuse healthcare with the funding of healthcare.

      • Jared says

        That a bum can be stabilized in an ER at no cost to him or her is a far cry from having access to healthcare. They won’t even be fully treated, only stabilized (i.e., stop bleeding, immobilize broken bone etc.). And certainly doesn’t address preventive care, vaccinations, or appointments to address… Anything at all. I’ve got fantastic healthcare now (and a much higher income), but not having a plan means almost no healthcare at all, aside from basic treatment at an ER, for which they will still try to collect money). I don’t support universal healthcare, but certainly not having it is a huge factor in how you are treated and quality of life.

    • Fred says

      As a conservative, I’m quite happy to see the left consume itself like an ouroboros. Can you imagine the likes of Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar actually running the country? We woujd end up looking like Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela or another such leftist paradise.

    • Thank you for the link. I absolutely agree with your point that class solidarity is imperative. I do worry about the potential for class reductionism, which is why I find the terms like “economic inequality” or “materialist” more useful than class. “Class” is also at times used in an identitarian manner in manner similar to intersectionality.

      I think the best way to “unite the many to defeat the few” is to focus on policy strategies that draw upon a Leftist political/economic framework but avoid reductionist language and “us-versus-them” rhetoric. I’m wary of terms like “radical” and “revolution” because I believe they turn off people who would otherwise be on board. – it makes a Leftist program seem really cultish to people on the outside. We have to appeal to people who do not live their lives engaged in activism and political organizing.

      • David Morse says

        Yeah, I don’t share a program with the “radical” types who criticize identity politics for being post-materialist, but the criticism is basically the same.

        I pick “class” or “socioeconomic status” over inequality because there’s more than just a lack of capital qua capital at issue – I like Bourdieu on the importance of cultural capital, for instance. It has enormous descriptive power.

        At the same time I agree there’s a risk of drifting back into fractalizated incoherence when we start talking that way, and particuarly when we throw the word class around it contains a spectre of Marxist dogma. So I share those reservations and think we have to guard against essentializing the categories and the people in them. The more canned the analysis, the greater the risk of moral vanity.

        • Peter from Oz says

          The new left has thrived because it has morphed into a new identitarian folk-marxism. The old class-based marxism failed, because it turned out that the working class would rather become middle class than remain as potemkin village proles. Working class solidarity was built on the existence of mass employers in manufacturing, mining and transport.
          The marxists and the new left folk-marxists have one thing in common: they want the ”oppressed” to remain frozen in aspic, within their social categories.
          It is a stunted vision of mediocrity and dullness.
          SInistra delenda est

    • Lightning Rose says

      Class is increasingly the only prediction metric you need. 2-parent, intact and affluent families who support their child’s academic achievement and finance college and grad-school education, leads to said child finding a similarly-raised counterpart from similar socio-economic circumstances in the environment of said college; shortly after career is launched they marry and perpetuate the cycle, resulting in the increasing stratification by class of society. Exceptions prove the rule. To put it another way, almost nobody “marries down.” I might add that having children outside of marriage practically guarantees a permanent seat near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. This is nothing less than exactly where a large percentage of blacks and poor whites shoot themselves in the foot.

  8. I still have no idea how ‘intersectionalism’ can be defined as anything at all. It is full of assumptions and logical fallacies and though the author critiques it, I fear he is still too steeped in its culture to see it from the outside (as most of us mere mortals do).

    Peoples’ experiences cannot be not only most meaningfully but *solely* defined by the group they belong to. People are individuals. They are members of a very complex shifting array of groups, depending on multiple factors – family, culture, land, region, individual proclivity, religion, philosophy, body type, intelligence, talents, personal passions and so on – not on arbitrarily defined rigid groups as articulated by upper class intellectuals from the West. This is important. The Intersectionalists carefully set the whole thing up so *they* are in power. The people themselves are not autonomous. “intersectionality” in effect gives the power to the intellectual class even while pretending they are ‘helping’ the downtrodden.

    Just as an example, as a Jew, I can’t say, “I am a member of the most despised group in human history.” This is is statistically true, but because our group is also successful, intersectionality forbids us from defining ourselves as nonwhite, as victims of other nonwhites (as is the reality in new York right now). Instead, upper class/intelligentsia gets to define what group I belong to.

    The same is true of many groups. christians, for instance, are not permitted to say they feel persecuted or frightened. The non-christian upper class intelligentsia forbids it. This same group absurdly groups “Asians” together in one group even as they have manifold and multiple differences and would never group themselves in one. Or more absurdly, all women, as though having a vagina is so meaningful it is one of the most important characteristic I have (at the same time it is meaningless, but this is where intersectionality becomes absurd as different groups jostle for power, e.g. trans jostling with feminists for the meaning of woman and group membership).

    Furthermore, people who don’t agree with the group membership – e.g. a gay black person who doesn’t want to be judged as a member of any group – is denied any identity; that is, they lose membership in the group which for inter sectionalists mean they lose their humanity. They don’t decide this–the upper class intelligentsia do.

    The author still seems to take for granted that the arbitrary membership as intellectuals define it (e.g. grouping all ethnicities and cultures together as ‘immigrant’) tells us far more about the people than the individual choices they make. So he writes straight-faced about poor immigrant single women who *choose* to marry men to improve their economic status but we’re supposed to feel sorry for them (they are higher on the intersectionality victimhood hierarchy) because by choosing this Faustian bargain – marrying for convenience – they also expose themselves to the economic power their husbands hold over them which may or may not segue into violence. Because he sees things in terms on ‘intersectionality” he fails to see the situation in its universality and humanity and ironically therefore treats the people we are supposed to be sorry for, as less human. In this case, he ignores the universality of people marrying for economic gain, which has been going for centuries. He ignores personal choice. (No one forced the women to do as they did). He ignores nuance–there are pluses and minuses to marry for convenience. He ignores how the women themselves would define their situation and their own group membership.

    “Intersectionality” is an incoherent movement which functions primarily as a means to elect politicians (give them power by telling people who they must vote for based on their intersectionality identity) and as a way to give more power to university intellectuals. It’s the exact opposite of what it pretends to be. It must not be analyzed on its own terms. It must be refuted entirely.

    • Peter from Oz says

      d
      You got everything right, except the fact that the ”intellectuals” against whom you correctly rail are not upper class. They are at best upper middle class, but mostly of lower socio-economic origins.

      • @Peter from Oz, yes, you’re right. I should have been more precise–What I mean are there are two groups, upper class and intelligentsia. Sometimes they intersect. But when they don’t, and the intelligentsia – say, a professor at a college – is middle class economically, they don’t regard themselves as middle class; class is more than what we earn; the intelligentsia aligns itself to the upper class. They loathe the middle and working classes unless they come to them ignorant with hands uplifted.

        They want to be rich and/or famous. (I’m not speaking of all professors, of course. I’m talking about overall culture there.) That fact actually explains a great deal of the bitterness and envy that simmers beneath the surface in so much of university culture. They are bitter that they’re not rich in money or prestige; on the contrary, no one knows who they are, they could disappear tomorrow and no one would notice, *and* they earn no money. It galls them. When I was a professor in a university (in writing), most of the professors simultaneously scored ‘popular writers’ (whose works sell) *and* lusted after getting their book turned into a movie in Hollywood, I kid you not.

        At any event, the ‘intelligentsia’ is more properly a class of its own.

  9. Ray Andrews says

    Since the calculations will increase as the factorial of the number of Identities that must be intersected, and since the number of Identities increases all the time, I predict that at some point the Ministry of Equity will realize that only an AI can handle the matter:

    Equitron. The master computer that determines everyone’s outcomes to insure that every possible Intersection of Identities has exactly the same outcome as every other. There is an opening for a nuclear engineer at a power plant. Who gets the job, the black transman necrophile or the latinx gay voodoo priest? Only Equitron can decide.

    Now, supposing it were to happen that Equitron assigns some job to a Somali immigrant omnisexual with AIDS … but there is not one person in the country who fills that Intersection? It is very clear that Equitron must also control inputs so that it can be sure of outputs, thus Equitron must have full control of our lives, thereby insuring that there are sufficient candidates for all required tasks. Equitron will anticipate that the dean for some college in a few years must be a tuba playing, quadripelegic, volleyball star and will take steps to make sure that one is available. Perfect Intersectional Equity will mean zero personal freedom, but that is surely a small price to pay.

    • Ray, can’t wait to read the novel, or screenplay. Which gets me to thinking about the usual trope with the individual against the enforced collective, where usually (1984 being an exception) the courageous individual prevails. So what would a story look like where the noble collective prevails against the selfish individuals? Did they make films of this nature in communist regimes? Does a world exist where Equitron can be seen as a hero?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @benita canova (@benitacanova)

        I’d be stealing another author’s plot. The basic idea is there in “This Perfect Day” by Ira Levin. In some ways it’s a prescient as 1984 and Brave New World.

        In This Perfect Day the computer is called ‘Uni’ and controls everything mostly via the mandatory weekly injection everyone receives that makes sure their attitudes are correct. Needless to say, Equity has been achieved.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Lightning Rose

        Shit, so I did. Yes, we weep hot tears for the albino (persons not of color) dwarves (persons not of size). And what about the fat and the ugly and the just plain dumb? What about the smelly and the dirty and the folks who like to wear biker gear or Hare Krishna robes? Who will dry their tears? Are there any albino dwarves in Congress? What are the woke going to do about this injustice? At least hairsyles are now protected in New York, that’s something.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/style/hair-discrimination-new-york-city.html

        A cool 1/4 million for the Victims.

        • XCellKen says

          Houston had a very diverse city council in the 90s. This included a dwarf. And the lesbian on council at that time ultimately became our mayor

    • Peter from Oz says

      There is a wonderful novel by Michael Frayn called Tin Men that deals with a similar theme.

  10. Marian Hennings says

    Those who claim to practice intersectionality tend to emphasize skin color above all else. A white person is considered privileged regardless of his or her gender, economic status, health or disability, or experiences. Out of curiosity, I took a quiz on Buzzfeed which said that out of 100 points of privilege I had only 32, and that I was therefore not privileged at all. I grew up in a politically and religiously conservative town and I was a Democrat and an atheist. I lived for much of my adult life in communities which were multiracial so had experienced hostility from nonwhites simply based on my race. I have been told I was “the wrong race” when I applied for jobs in the social welfare field despite the fact that there are numerically more poor white people than poor nonwhites. Had I been nonwhite I would have been hired. Despite all this, I am considered to be advantaged by my whiteness. I am weary of this identity politics that rejects individual experience. I believe Martin Luther King, Jr. would not be pleased with some of those who claim to respect him but who judge people on skin color rather than character.

    • XCellKen says

      “I have been told I was “the wrong race” when I applied for jobs in the social welfare field ”

      By whom? Sounds like you have a case with the EEOC

  11. Thomas Barnidge says

    By the use of the pseudo-words “Latinx “ and “Chicanx” the author appears not to be immune from the banality and degradation of current academic practice. I suppose if the pressure or rewards of politically correct thought were great enough, the author may well change his tune and go with the social justice flow. Hopefully, “Everyman has his price” doesn’t apply in this case.

  12. E. Olson says

    The whole intersectionality concept is nuts, because it assumes that ethnic/racial/gender/religion/etc. groups have identical abilities, interests, and capacities so that all inequalities between various ethnic/racial/gender/religion/etc. groups are due to some sort of planned system of discrimination. This means intersectionality requires that the top of the pyramid white privilege guys (who are objectively no better than anyone else) somehow were able to plot together to effectively keep all women down, and black women down even further, and black lesbian Muslim women even further down, etc., while the small group of Jewish males are put at the absolute pinnacle of the hierarchy.

    Does intersectionality have an answer to how white guys, who are supposedly no better than anyone else, gather together enough power to enforce and maintain their hierarchy and privilege, or explain how a tiny group of Jews rises over much more numerically powerful groups?

    Perhaps a more explanatory alternative hypothesis might be built on a prediction that hierarchies and associated stereotypes are actually reflective of the relative value and productivity each group provides relative to other groups, because some groups actually have more talent, more ability, more valued interests, and greater capacities than other groups (with high individual variance within each group)?

    • @E. Olson

      The reason white men are at the top is because all people groups put them there, either out of habit or out of envy towards their own. I heard a radio program about this phenomenon.

      • You can cut to the heart of intersectionality in a four letter word.

        Envy.

        To find a detailed account of human excellence in all spheres of accomplishment I recommend “Human Accomplishment” by Charles Murray.

        There you can find demonstrated clearly that white men ARE at the top, and why it’s not surprising that all people groups put them there.

        Not out of “habit”, or even “envy towards their own”. Instead it follows a natural law. Juniors instinctively will defer to those they genuinely believe to be their seniors.

        Intersectionality is just a leftist attempt to upend the status quo by pretending that black is white.

        Nonsensical lies intended to divide and conquer.

  13. Farris says

    Intersectionality describes nothing and everything.

    Imagine a room of two dozen young white guys. Some of those looking in see oppressors and rapists, but what about within the group.

    One is thinking, “great I’m the fat guy again.”
    Another, “looks like I’m the shortest.”
    Still another, “bet I’m the only Jew.”
    Still another, “I wonder if there are other dads?”
    “ I’m the only southerner.”
    The red head guy, “wonder how long before someone calls me red?”
    The nerd
    The sharp dresser
    The religious guy and on and on.

    The point is any group can be subdivided down to one. Even among fraternal organizations, cliques develop.

  14. I read the Tamela Gordon’s article when it appered and it repeats the same old lie that white women refused to include black men in the 15th amendment, when in fact it was the opposite way around: black men (who had worked with the former abolitionists turned suffragettes) refused to include any women in the 15th amendment, fearing it wouldn’t pass if they did. This is exactly why Intersectionality doesn’t work and never has. It’s not about equality, it’s about American black women. And because it’s about American black women, there’s no space for anyone else. White women need to shut up. Asian women shouldn’t complain about not getting into Harvard, Native Americans and Latin women, well, they’re not *that* black, so they don’t have it as bad (they weren’t slaves, so they have it easier now, although no one who is alive now has been a slave), and on it goes. The dishonesty and alteration of historical facts is enough to make anyone wonder what the hell is going on, until you realize that it’s all about power and money, the same old American story. I also wonder why it’s was considered such a bad idea to have white feminism (not the derogative meaning), black feminism, Asian feminism, religious feminism, etc. These have always existed but now suddenly the IF crowd is all aghast as if they have just found these! It’s such a joke. Had IF never been created we would all have been happily feminists in our own ways, which is again so ironic, for IF also claims there is no pure form of feminism while IF is the only pure form – except now that black women have decided they want to do black feminism again IF has to go. Yeah, the ironies just keep on piling up.

  15. Lightning Rose says

    Actually, the word “feminism” of any stripe now prompts a great many of us to pick up a stake, a crucifix and a garlic clove, and start backing up very slowly . . .

  16. Caligula says

    “Sociologist Landon Schnabel examined how gender differences in income vary by religiosity, and found evidence of Intersectionality: high-earning men are more religious than low-earning men, but low-earning women are more religious than their high-earning counterparts.”

    Is it necessary to point out that this is not “evidence of intersectionality” but merely a few significant correlations? There are practically endless explanations for why these correlations might exist, and most of these will have little or nothing to do with religiosity or sex as causations.

    Is it really necessary to point out that nicotine stains do not cause lung cancer, even though people with nicotine-stained fingers tend to have a incidence of lung cancer? Or that if you have a really big data set and go looking for (significant positive or negative) correlations with the positions of the planets and various human outcomes you’ll find correlations aplenty- yet this would no more be evidence for the validity of astrology than the correlations described above are evidence of intersectionality?

    Perhaps there’s more to this research than is presented here, but, if this is actually the essence of it then it would seem to work far better as a primer on how not to do science than as evidence of intersectionality.

    Science is hard, confirmation bias unavoidable, and when you think you’ve found evidence for something is always a good time to rigorously go looking for an alternate explanations for the data you’ve found. And at the least, one should be wary of scientific truths arising at the intersection of research and activism.

  17. Jezza says

    Definition of intersectionalism: intellectual masturbation.

  18. Divide By Zero says

    “Despite its demonstrated utility for testing the precepts of Intersectionality, quantitative research fails to pass muster with many intersectional scholars.”

    Something Intersectional scholars have in common with Libertarian economic scholars of the Austrian School — doctrinal rejection of numbers, based on the observation that the number don’t add up the way they’d like them to.

    • That’s not fair; the Austrian school is perfectly happy to rely on numbers when they appear to support the cult.

  19. Jasper says

    1) Intersectionality solves a problem caused by atomizing everyone into small identity based groups. It provides a commonality to all the splinter factions — they’re all afflicted by the same intersecting vectors of oppression. Therefore I’ll go to your grievance meetings if you go to mine, and we’ll be a larger and more powerful force.

    2) intersectionality shows the precariously thin line between wokeness and conspiracy theories. Unfalsifiable claims about inchoate vectors of oppression are not different in kind from claims about international jewery or space aliens.

  20. Elton H says

    Intersectionality, as applied by the Regressive Left, is just a Maoist tactic. Anyone perceived to be in power can be brought down at any time based on a standard set of grievances as long as the charges were brought by screaming masses. The end game is to sustain continuous revolution in order to bring down existing societal structure and create a society gripped in fear of the next “grievance hearing” because anyone can be the guilty party.

    One characteristic of an intersectionality-based society is the lack of trust between individuals because your best friend can be the one airing grievances against you. Your turn on anyone to everyone to demonstrate your fealty to the cause.

  21. Fear the Straight White Man (they're all cultural crackers) says

    Facebook social / behavioral habits + intersectional reasoning (oxymoron?) = the worst sort of cultural toxicity any of us with common sense are likely to experience in our lifetime. Judging which lines of thought or which people are “worthy” of being taken seriously, based on how intersectional they are is akin to saying the best recipes are the ones with the most ingredients. There’s absolutely no logic to it.

    So the lowest form of life in this culture is white, straight, Christian males over the age of 40. Let’s get that obvious thing out of the way. The ideas of these males should be not taken seriously but immediately looked upon with suspicion because look at all the evil things white men have done and how can such a being really understand “real people” if they haven’t been the victim of sexism and/or racism and/or religious bigotry and/or genderphobia / homophobia / whateverphobia? I mean, clearly these men are dangerous because they know nothing of real life and what others go through.

    We cannot trust them to have a sense of understanding or empathy, to care about non-white, non-straight, non-males as much as themselves because historically people in positions of power who have abused that power, look like these so-called “people” we’re talking about.

    We should tread carefully and make sure all of our institutions have a minimum of this type of person in positions of power or decision-making because they’re dangerous. History has shown it.

    Stay safe out there, intersectionals. Their reign of terror isn’t over yet. We must fully depose them and downplay their usefulness to society before we are truly enlightened. People “people are people” is really a cliche made up by the white man to trick us. People are only people if they’re highly intersectional and don’t look like the person described above. The amount of abuse a person has taken, it’s what makes their voice and ideas important and valid.

  22. Tersitus says

    Intersectionality is the ecumenical doctrine of the aggrieved. Newsflash— we’re all intersectional. Our whole lives are personal intersections of countless other lives. Some of us just find other things to whinge about.

  23. Tersitus says

    By the way, Fear the Man— I knew my basketball career was over when they told me white men can’t jump. Talk about playing by a different set of rules….

  24. LeeNLP says

    Intersectionality: Because while one label is completely inadequate for describing something so complex as human experience, two labels is more than enough.

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