What is intersectionality?

The concept of intersectionality point to the importance of  having a multidimensional analysis of power structures. That is to take into account all the dimensions of power. To Civis that means to take into consideration all the social categories that power and oppression rest upon. Among others, these categories are: gender, class, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation etc.

The structures of inequality are based on elitistic dichotomies that divide people in two groups: the norm and the other. E.g. the social category of gender:

Male (Norm)   /   Female (The Other)

Traditionally they have been given characteristics based on stereotypical images: the independent, active, rational, strong and hard male vs the dependent, passive, emotional, weak and soft and female.

The characteristics connected to the norm, in this case the male, is given higher value than the female characteristsics. This gives men as a social group more power and privileges in the political, economic, cultural and social sphere.

This should be compared to other unequal dichotomies based on e. g. class, ethnicity and age:

Class:

Rich (Norm)           /         Poor ( The Other)

well  educated                  uneducated

modern                             traditional

active                                passive

intelligent                          ignorant

urban                                rural

 

Ethnicity:

Western/White (Norm)    /    Non-western/The rest (The Other)

modern                                 traditional

developed                             undeveloped

rich                                        poor

educated                               uneducated

rational                                  emotional

secualrized                           religious

peaceful                                war prone

 

Age:

Audult (Norm)     /     Youth  (The Other)

rational                      emotional

mature                       immature

responsable              irresponsable

 

 

All these dichotomies serve to divide people and are based on the idea that some people are worth more than others. The stereotyped images justify the persistance of unequal structures and give privilíges to the norm. The others are similarly mistreated, unapriciated and discriminated. Sometimes the stereotyped characteristics connected to the others are the same: emotional, traditional, passive etc. The other is femenized or diminished and is deprived of it’s own authority.

 

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