Thursday, October 13, 2011

On the importance of appreciating intersectionality if one cares about remedying or ending the oppression of women

image is from here

Curiously, obnoxiously, or infuriatingly, depending on your political location and tolerance for stupidity, some whites are into dissing the concept of "intersectionality" as post-modern nonsense designed to unnecessarily or obfuscate the oppression of women by men, or of poor men by rich men, or of people of color by whites.

We might note that for people oppressed by race, class, region, religion, sexuality, and gender, "intersectionality" may well be one of the most useful conceptual tools for describing one's own experience of being in the world. But for the less complexly oppressed, it may well seem like a messy addition to the language of anti-oppression and liberation work.

I've been hearing of whites dissing this term most of all: class-privileged, non-Lesbian, regionally and educationally privileged whites at that. How convenient for them to disrespect and dismiss a way of understanding the world's human populations that makes more visible women who are not white, class-privileged, and advantaged structurally in other ways as well. How white supremacist to pretend that such a term is unnecessary and needlessly distracting from the "core" issue: men's oppression of [white] women. Also, without utlising the concept of intersectionality to the problem of women's oppression, we might (dangerously) be able to ignore how white women and men across race oppress women of color.

For the whites who only listen to other whites, who insist the term isn't appropriate or useful--or necessary--in the struggle to end patriarchal and male supremacist atrocities, who won't take the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw and so many other radical womanists and feminists seriously, I recommend they review this lecture by a prominent U.S. white radical feminist. MacKinnon has, herself, problematically discussed the condition of white women in an essay critiqued for appearing to minimise the political meaning and racist-misogynist oppression acted out of the whiteness of white women--against women of color. See *here* for that. And see *here* for the PDF which contains a response/critique.

If anyone obtains the transcript of text of MacKinnon's lecture, I'd be interested to read it.
Oct 12
Intersectionalities: Theorizing Multiple Discrimination, Identity and Power

Catharine A. MacKinnon, University of Michigan

William and June Warren Hall, Room 207

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Sponsored by the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies and co-sponsored by The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law

Catharine A. MacKinnon is the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. She is among the most heavily cited scholars publishing in the English language, and is world renowned for her groundbreaking work in the areas of feminist jurisprudence, pornography and civil rights, and politicizing rape and other forms of gender-based violence as a "gender crime" in the context of international human rights law. Since 2008, she has served as the Special Gender Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (The Hague).

*Introduction by Beth Ribet, Research Director, Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies [source for this: ]