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Hold on, What is Intersectionality?

Hello everyone, I’m wishing all of our readers a happy and healthy July.

This July long weekend is a tough one, as this year, more than ever, we dedicate our time not to celebration, but rather reflection, learning, mourning, and growth. On this “Canada Day” long weekend I urge - no, I plead, everyone to do their part in this country’s journey to reconciliation. It starts now and it starts with each and every person who calls this country and this land home.

That being said, I wanted to take some time to follow up on my post from last week. I recognize that “intersectionality” is a word that gets thrown around a lot; in academics, in the workplace, throughout various social movements we need to be intersectional, we need to take into account intersectionality, we need to use an intersectional approach… Kay sure, but what does that mean?

Intersectionality is a term that was conceptualized and coined by feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. The term works as a framework for recognizing and understanding how various characteristics of an individual’s social and political identity intersect to maintain different modes of privilege and/or oppression.

Of course, as with any progressive ideology, intersectionality has garnered criticism. Some believe that intersectionality only serves to victimize some groups over others, to award special treatment to marginalized populations, and even to villainize more privileged groups. Respectfully, this is bananas.

Intersectionality’s sole purpose is to allow and encourage us to recognize that there are endless aspects of one’s identity, and that these aspects have real-life social and political impacts. For example, I am an white, cisgendered, able-bodied woman of a certain socio-economic status. As a result, I do experience certain forms of discirmination and oppression because I am a woman; however, I simultaneously experience many privileges that a woman of colour, an LGBTQ+ woman, a woman with a disability, and/or any combination of these groups do not.

Get it? Now, these are only a few aspects of a person’s identity that can be taken into consideration and this is only a brief overview of all that intersectionality is, brought to you by my undergraduate studies of feminism, race theory, and study of the public interest. As such, I encourage everyone to do their own research and develop their own understanding of this concept, so that we can all apply it to our life effectively. I find infographics extremely helpful in understanding intersectionality, so take a look at the few I’ve attached.

Happy learning, happy healing, and happy growing.

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