by: Lea Gnoy
Intersectionality, a term coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, is the importance of including all types of people with many different social identities. A more precise definition of intersectionality is the acknowledgment that everyone has their own individual experiences of oppression and discrimination. Crenshaw initially created the term to show how race and gender discrimination intersected during the third wave of feminism to allow queer women and women of color feel included in the Feminist Movement. Before intersectionality was acknowledged, black women felt excluded from the feminist movement due to racism. Intersectionality was prevalent during the movement because it placed emphasis on knowledge to empower black women who felt discriminated against due to two of their identities of being women of color.
Today, intersectionality is just as important for helping and understanding the complexity of prejudices people with overlapping identities face. For example, black women experience sexism and racism differently than white women deal with sexism and how black men deal with racism. Fighting racism and sexism with an intersectional lens allows all types of women and people of color to be included to truly achieve equality. In this example, having conversations with intersectionality in mind can help black women feel less alone in their struggles. Lisa Bowleg’s “When Black + Lesbian + Woman ≠ Black Lesbian Woman: The Methodological Challenges of Qualitative and Quantitative Intersectionality Research” goes in depth on how to properly research Black Lesbian Woman by looking through an intersectional lens. Bowleg’s intensive evidence in her peer-reviewed article supports how important understanding intersectionality is because the “perspectives gained from intersectionality research can advance knowledge, inform interventions, and shape public policy in ways that benefit women like Black lesbians and all others who fall through the ‘women and minorities gap’” (Bowleg p.323). Understanding intersectionality is crucial to rewiring the deep-rooted oppression in the world and making everyone feel equal and understood in life.
Bowleg, L. (2008). When Black + lesbian + woman ≠ Black lesbian woman: The methodological challenges of qualitative and quantitative intersectionality research. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 59(5-6), 312–325. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9400-z