Persons of Mixed Races and Categories of “Otherness” in Feminist Studies
Intersectionality is not simply a popular term in academia or a hot buzzword in the popular discourse. It is something that feminism must come to terms with to make a difference in people’s lives and to change the ways in which women are represented and their ability to access social justice. The term intersectionality was coined by scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, referring to how identity is based upon an interconnected web of social categorizations such as “race, class, and gender” rather than something that could solely be reduced to a singular category, such as gender (“What Is Intersectionality,” 2017, par. 5). The category of gender, Crenshaw notes, also includes sexuality, given the extent to which non-heterosexual women were likewise excluded from many of the concerns of 20th century feminism at the time she coined the term (“What Is Intersectionality,” 2017). Without intersectionality, it was impossible on a legal as well as a theoretical level to address the complexities of economic discrimination women of color were facing, believed Crenshaw (Adewunmi, 2014).
Crenshaw was writing in response to the prevailing notion among many feminists that gender alone was the most salient category for categorizing their lived experience. For women of color, quite simply this was not always the case. And even if they were in situations where gender impacted their sense of self and being, it was not necessarily in the same manner as their white, female counterparts. A good example of this from earlier variations of Second Wave Feminism was the extent to which the ability of women to work was framed with the 20th century by works such as The Feminine Mystique. Early middle-class female advocates of feminism protested that women not being permitted to work after marriage was a serious issue in their disenfranchisement, given this rendered them dependent upon men. It also gave them little stimulation or outlet for their frustrated intellectual impulses, even if they had gone to university. In stark contrast, African-American women, by and large, had to work to support their families—sometimes extended families, rather than the nuclear family that was the focus of feminism during that era. They also had to face racism in the form of discrimination against themselves, which prohibited them from securing employment other than as domestic servants, cooks, and other menial occupations. And, of course, many African-American women had historically been barred from institutions of higher learning or lacked the economic means to attend college.
Of course, white women likewise faced discrimination which limited their advancement in school and the workplace. But intersectionality acknowledges the differences in experiences of different women, based upon their various status in regards to race and class, as well as gender. For African-American women, the issues was seldom the ability to work, but how their personhood was acknowledged in work and personal contexts. Furthermore, by acknowledging that access to working opportunities was not in and of itself enough, feminists of all backgrounds could benefit, since the ability to work for less money, promotional prospects, and lower pay than a man was hardly something to aspire to as an employee and a woman.
Of course, intersectionality can and must be framed up as something even more complex than simply white women versus African-American women. The concept of intersectionality suggests women of mixed race, for example, may face further pressures that complicate their relationship with the self and society, including feeling pressure to choose membership in one category or another. It adds complexity to the idea of racial polarization as well, since women of multiple racial identity categories may not see themselves as part of such an oppositional binary.
Intersectionality is postmodern in the sense that it accepts that there is no…
Sources Used in Document:
Adewunmi, B. (2014). Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality. The New Statesman. Retrieved from: https://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw- intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyone-could
Friedan, B. (2013). The feminine mystique: 50th anniversary edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
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What is intersectionality, and what does it have to do with me? (2017). YW Boston. Retrieved from: https://www.ywboston.org/2017/03/what-is-intersectionality-and-what-does-it- have-to-do-with-me/
"Representational Intersectionality And Persons Of Mixed Races" (2018, October 21) Retrieved October 18, 2019, from https://www.paperdue.com/essay/representational-intersectionality-persons-mixed-races-research-paper-2172545
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"Representational Intersectionality And Persons Of Mixed Races", 21 October 2018, Accessed.18 October. 2019, https://www.paperdue.com/essay/representational-intersectionality-persons-mixed-races-research-paper-2172545