This was written about two decades ago, it is Kimberley Crenshaw first laying out what is now hotly debated as a new idea by a small media culture who demand their right to be a conduit to those of us needing to speak about what is happening to women now.
The ideas contained within it are well established, at the core of anti-oppressive practice for fields like social work where understanding how power actually manifests are important, and none of this is new. Most women do not need ‘intersectionality’ explaining. Like fish don’t need water explaining. The ideas within this paper are applicable not just to women of colour, but as we have seen with how austerity has magnified inequality, to women with disabilities, illness, working class women(the ones in the hoodies on the guardian articles peddling welfare myths and poverty porn).
I was really shocked that our so called feminist vanguard had never heard ideas which are firmly established almost everywhere else. But posh white women who work in newspapers have no reason to give a shit what goes on outside their walls and exist to prevent this discussion.
Intersectionality is not an excuse to demand women erase their biology, as certain tribes on twitter believe. It is not an excuse to bully and attack women(as Zoe Stavvers believes everything is an excuse to attack women- get the misogyny in check love…by the way noone gives a fuck who and how you fuck, sex lives were more exciting and less verbose in medieval times). It is not a debate that ‘feminism’ has to grapple with and decide if it will accept. It is the way the world operates and it is women’s lives. That feminism is currently ‘grappling’ with it, is just a sign of a media culture flailing as their grip on discourse loosens. If you think ‘intersectionality’ is a word which entitles you to police the language of grown women you have misunderstood.
Intersectionality is not a word most of us need. Not the woman facing prison because a spoiled media princess had hurt feelings on the net, not the millions of women whose lives have just been destroyed by austerity that Guardian feminists sold. You only really need the word if you are being told to shut up and let other women speak and exist without you imposing your shit on them.
It is not about hierachies of oppression, which are stupid and only exist on twitter.
The intersection that Kimberley talks about is how a system which is blind to this compounds that oppression. Like when the Labour left and the Guardian sold austerity rolling back basic equality for working class women. It is a step to understanding how our economic system and social policy work with intersecting inequality, to create real hardship for the women Kate Belgrave has recently been writing about. Like a woman with nothing facing prison because she hurt the feelings of a posh white girl while pissed on twitter. Understanding welfare is and always was a women’s issue because economic inequality exists on gender, race and disability faultlines. It’s understanding that poverty has a female face that is ignored, all over.
I would recommend reading this, I would also recommend reading Lena Dominelli, Anti-Oppressive Theory and Practice(a social work text), and I would remember that noone gives a fuck about your incessant whining and privilege checking. Noone gives a fuck about your whining about feminism and if you continue to show yourself unable to accommodate ALL the intersecting perspectives now telling feminism to fuck off so we can talk about equality, noone cares. We just ignore you and move past you.
I am sorry the left and the feminist vanguard are shocked to the core by debates that were done and dusted years ago and cannot grasp basic reality, but that’s really their problem not ours. Educate yourself it is not our job to educate you. Your tedious discussions about intersectionality are just you announcing you do not have capacity to participate in a discussion about the world women face and a sign you need to piss off.
Women are all different, we have different facets to our identity, and sometimes those facets mean that inequality compounds and other women assist. If you cannot grasp that you do not have the right to dictate the identities of those women before they speak about inequality they face, you need to learn how to play with other women nicely. That is not about feminism, that is just your social skills that need work.