Intersectionality and the Straight White Male 

#intersectionality #discrimination #democratism 

On a filial exchange on social media yesterday pertaining to feminism, a true feminist and well -educated woman brought up that she’s a true old -fashioned feminist who loves men. She also mentioned she was into intersectionality. This brought me back to my university days when this was a fairly new theory. In general, 

Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and scholar of critical race theory Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of what Crenshaw contends are overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppressiondomination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include genderracesocial classethnicitynationalitysexual orientationreligionagemental disabilityphysical disabilitymental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity. These aspects of identity are not “unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather…reciprocally constructing phenomena.” The theory proposes that we think of each element or trait of a person as inextricably linked with all of the other elements in order to fully understand one’s identity.

This framework, it is argued, can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequality occur on a multidimensional basis. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society—such as racismsexismclassismableismhomophobiatransphobiaxenophobia and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.”

While originally set out as a theory to better understand feminism and build inroads to empower everyone by better understanding it as a societal rather than a female problem,  it was dear to my heart because it better helped me understand myself and my role in society and what I would be able to do to make things better and more egalitarian while at the same time becoming empowered.  This is why I have turned into this unsolvable creature. I am praised and scorned from all sides of the political and social spectrum. I’m a staunch feminist and borderline misogynist at the same time. This is either untrue or I’m apparently bipolar or psychotic. 

I decided to call myself a demicratust. So many terms were taken, but that one was still non -existent. I would love to say I’m a humanist, as opposed to a feminist. This would be an all-inclusive term to include every living person on earth. I have been taken to task by PETA,  for apparently not caring about animals as I do about humans. I find nothing wrong with that because I find it natural. I believe a monkey and an iguana look out for number one as well. And I don’t blame them. I’m not for animal cruelty,  but when it comes to equality among the species humans,  all humans with no exceptions,  always come before any animal. I have been told I don’t care about the environment. In fact, I’ve been a Green Party of Canada candidate 3 times. Do they fact check? Again, it comes down to plain old democratist humanism. 

So let’s examine me and my place in society as can be seen through intersectionalist thought. While most would say there is no sexism or heterosexism against me, they are thinking simply from looking at me and without knowing me. In most of my lines of work, women are involved more than men. I have been denied certain posts because no men need apply due to male demonization akin to Islamophobia in that males cannot be trusted with children in their care. While this was frustrating,  it was humbling as I was able empathize with victims of gender inequality. I was once up for a job in the gay community and again didn’t get it. They told me I looked gay. These are 2 mundane examples and the least important. Nonetheless,  it made me aware of different components of personality and identity politics. 

When my family settled down in a Greek ghetto in Montreal, most kids dressed funny because of the inability of their parents to know of and afford better things. The community grew and the previous Jewish and Anglo-Saxon immigrants started leaving. This xenophobia seems to be a rite of passage and perpetrated in kind by every group that was victim to it. The ghetto is now mostly East -Asian.  We’ll never learn. There was also the classism that had a separation on the main boulevard made of trees and fences to keep us out and keep their property values high. We relished going in there on Halloween and throwing raw eggs on their windows. They had on chance to catch up to us because their cars had to stop at the fence. 

In short, the biggest shortcomings of my youth were concerned with being an immigrant and poor. Now that I visit the old neighbourhood,  I see the rate of success at a much lower level than people who grew up under less discriminatory and oppressive conditions. With the laws of more capitalist countries like the United States, the rate of lack of empowerment would have reached epidemic proportions. 

Above are the 5 most important components of intersectionality.  When nationality is hyphenated  (ie. Greek -Canadian ), you know nationalist problems loom ahead. In Quebec,  the nationalist separatists consider you one of theirs if your family goes back to 5 generations of Quebec roots. I guess 80 % of Montreal is “other” . Such nagging and blatant xenophobia,  nationalism,  and racism are just part of life here, like brushing your teeth in the morning. This encourages,  even forces,  us to hang with “our own kind “, further perpetuating the myth of not being able to blend into our adopted society. They are enabling ghettoism and ethnocentrism. 

With all of the above, being a woman makes it that much harder.  But blaming individual groups,  like white middle -aged men for your problems brings about zero evolution. All true and honorable leaders have compromised with and often embraced their opponent in the end goal of building bridges to empowerment.  

So what brings about people’s beliefs and attitudes? We need to see the individual as an island for their unique sets of life experiences and identity -building factors and as part of a whole in understanding societal dynamics that define their current state. 

As a democratist, I aim to move forward with my EEE (education,  empowerment,  enlightenment) movement and better tackle the problem with a citizenry of empathetic and educated individuals.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s