Intersectionality is a theory of systems of social power which concentrates on the intersection of various forms of oppression among those who are members of several discriminated groups. However, as explained briefly below, this ideology represents the death of feminism and anti-racism… and of any other previously progressive movements which become infected by this ideology.
Sommaire en français L’intersectionnalité est une théorie de systèmes de pouvoir social qui se préoccupe principalement des intersections entre les diverses manifestations d’oppression vécues par les personnes membres de plusieurs groupes discriminés. Pourtant, tel qu’expliqué dans ce billet de blogue, cette idéologie représente la mort du féminisme et du mouvement anti-raciste, et de tout autre mouvement anciennement progressiste que se voit infecté par cette ideologie.
Intersectionality is a theory of systems of social power which originated in the feminist movement. The basic idea is simple and superficially plausible: if an individual is a member of several groups which may be targets of discrimination, then their degree of oppression increases with each group identity. For example, a black lesbian may suffer discrimination on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation, whereas a white heterosexual women, on the contrary, is targeted only by misogyny. This view of oppression leads to a politics of division and guilt because in practice it reduces to a sort of point system in which the individual gains a merit point for each oppressed group in which she or he can claim membership. The result is a sort of caste system in which heterosexual cis-gendered white men, at the top of the heap, are demonized while those who win the most oppression points are celebrated and accorded immunity from all criticism. The goal of the intersectional activist is to upset or invert the heap, putting the point-winners on top. This view of the world is extremely simplistic as it sees each group as monolithic and homogeneous and it sees oppression as operating from the top down only.
Intersectional activists are obsessed with questions of privilege and view relations between groups as a zero-sum game in which someone must pay in order to end others’ oppression. They make endless moral judgments against privileged groups but tend to be short on real-world solutions because their theory is only very loosely connected to reality. Intersectional activists are notoriously blind to disparities or tensions within groups which may cause problems even greater than between-group disparities. They also tend to be very selective about the kinds of privileges they recognize. For example, they rarely if ever acknowledge religious privilege despite its ubiquity and its central importance in the fight for secularism. In the Canadian context, they are blind to the very real phenomenon of Anglo privilege.
Intersectionality reaches its most irrational and unreal in its attitude toward Muslims. As Muslims constitute a minority in the countries where this theory originated, they are considered an oppressed group. As a result, in order to fit the theory, any problems caused by a person’s Muslim identity must necessarily be caused by anti-Muslim prejudice and not by Islam itself. Hence, the non-sense term “Islamophobia” is validated and criticism of Islam becomes taboo and, of course, “Islamophobic.”
This ideology of intersectionality represents the death of feminism, because it concentrates on multiple sources of oppression, and especially on racial identity. Furthermore, by classifying those of a particular religion as an oppressed group or “race,” intersectionalists conflate religion with race, thus ignoring oppression caused by religion itself within religious communities. Those issues which are of importance specifically to feminism, i.e. which involve oppression of women as women—misogyny and in particular religious misogyny—are devalued and even ignored. Issues of specific importance to women as women are dismissed as the concerns of “white” women, who are considered to be of lesser or no importance because “white” people are denigrated. The obsession with racial identity combined with the conflation of race and religion lead to a racialism which spells the death of the anti-racist movement. Indeed, the 21st century anti-racist movement is itself racist—or perhaps a better term would be racialist—utterly engrossed by racism while itself promoting racism through its obsession with racial identity.
When intersectional ideology is combined with related dubious ideologies such as Islamoleftism, multiculturalism (i.e. communitarianism) and postmodernism, the erroneous consequences of intersectionality—pro-religion (thus anti-secular) prejudice, dogmatic racialism, obsession with group identity, pro-minority (and anti-majority) prejudice, etc.—become greatly exaggerated, thus generating a toxic soup of fashionable nonsense which has led much of the political left far astray from the values it should promote, culminating in abandonment of Enlightment values.
- Reflections on Intersectionality, Coleman Hughes, Quillette, 2020-01-14.
- The Illiberal Logic of Intersectionality, Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, Quillette, 2018-05-08.
- Intersectionality—A Review, Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, Quillette, 2018-08-14.
A review of the following book.
- Intersectionality, Patricia Hill Collins et Sirma Bilge, Polity Books, 2016-06-13.
A presentation of this ideology by two of its proponents.
For French-language reading suggestions, see the end of the previous blog.