Kimberley Crenshaw is an academic who has been writing for a long time. She wrote about the intersection of multiple axes of inequality as a legal scholar, discussing the legal fiction of single axes of oppression in discrimination law, ie being a black women and being denied legal redress because the discrimination experienced is neither that of women, or of black men. The treatment of middle class white women as the default women and men as the default setting for race discrimination. It can be applied across many axes of inequality. IE in the UK Owen Jones can write women out of the working class to suit Labour while Laurie Penny can write women out of feminism. Nicola Lacey, a British legal academic has written about this in the context of British law. She brings attention to when discrimination law and the structure of it denied women legal redress for pregnancy discrimination because they couldn’t claim that they were treated badly in comparison to men. THese were very serious legal arguments aimed at unpicking the structure of law and how it contributes to the inequality women experience. It discussed the creation of legal fictions using liberal theory underpinning law. Neither of these academics was discussing identity politics. Neither of them wrote a single word that suggested that understanding intersecting inequality meant that women’s biology should be erased from feminism for fear of upsetting trans women. Who experience acute inequality again, because of their existence within legal fictions that cannot recognise the inequality they face.
The abuse of these very important discussions to justify misogyny, violent abuse of women, and the reasoning that women should be written out of feminism because their biology is offensive is absurd. The work of both these academics is widely available to read. Neither of them tried to rewrite female biology. The understanding of intersecting inequality, which is 20 years old, never made it to media based vacuous identity politics. Because it was about structural inequality bound into the political economies in which women exist. It was intricately wound into female poverty, the way that reproductive labour is used to marginalise women and the lack of protection women receive.
The reason that the friends of Laurie Penny(Roz Kaveney, Stavvers, and the various vacuous posh women around their media culture) had to get to grips with the word intersectionality was because they were challenged in their first forays into a digital enviromment by those marginalised by their role in selling feminism as a vacous media excercise bolstering their identities and careers, They took the word intersectionality to mean their right to police other women. Which was a distortion borne of their narcissism and ambition and nothing to do with what it actually means. When Stavvers and Roz Kaveney led mobs which targeted female journalists with children in their homes, that was abusing the inequality caused by motherhood, and bullying and silencing. It was a gross distortion of theories they didn’t bother actually reading. People in Laurie’s circle can barely think of a problem that doesnt require abusing and silencing women.
The narcissism of the media culturs that produced these women, means they can’t actually identify misogyny and would be scared to do so because it would threaten their potential careers.
Kimberley Crenshaw produced a great deal of work she was barely recognised for outside academic circles and the appropriation of her ideas to justify a culture of abusing, silencing and marginalising women is indicative of problems in our media culture. And of the fact that she is a black woman and these very privileged young women from elite institutions can take ideas without considering them and use them that way.
I would strongly urge those being abused with the word ‘intersectional’ to read Kimberley Crenshaw. And the many academics who came after her who used her work, in legal scholarship, social policy analysis, social work theory and other established academic fields away from the vacuous identity politics of twitter.
Misogyny- hatred of women. Belief their biology is something they should be ashamed of. Belief that women are not people and should not be allowed sexual autonomy. Belief that women are an extension of your self image, and should be forced to change to suit your identity. Belief that you should have the right to dictate the thoughts and opinons of women. The gross distortion of intersectionality to define misogynist activist is a media creation. Nothing to do with the very important understanding of how inequality intersects, how that intersection is bound into law, social policy systems and womens lives and the very great cost to women.