Intersectionality.jpg

Columnist Sarah Poyer discusses the nature and effect of intersectionality. 

Have you ever sat on the steps of Curtiss Hall and looked at the four sidewalks intersecting with each other? Now imagine for a second that these sidewalks are traits or identities that a person has and they are intersecting to complete that person. Depending on what these traits are, they may hinder or disadvantage the person. 

Intersectionality, a term Kimberlé Crenshaw coined, explains this very well. The term refers to the discrimination one may face based on different traits or identities that they have. In a TedTalk Crenshaw gave in 2016, she said she began to use intersectionality to address that many social justice problems often overlap. The overlapping of social justice problems, hence, intersects and causes even more issues for that intersectional person or people. 

Recognizing that inequalities are related is essential; separating them can diminish severity and take away value from the actual issue. In an article from UN Women, Crenshaw discusses just this, “What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.” Recognizing that one inequality on its own is horrible to deal with and multiple intersecting inequalities becomes a complicated, almost impossible task to tackle. 

This is addressed in Crenshaw’s TedTalk (which I recommend watching, it’ll tug at your heartstrings and make you think critically). Crenshaw begins by asking the audience to stand and then lists Black men, “Eric Garner. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice.” Most of the audience remains standing. She then goes on and lists African American women who have also been killed by the police, “Michelle Cusseaux. Tanisha Anderson. Aura Rosser,” and the audience begins dropping into their seats very quickly. Here is a first-hand look at intersectionality affecting a large portion of the population. Intersectionality allows us to label the injustices that people face on a day-to-day basis and must struggle through. 

Many struggle through the crossroads of intersectionality simply because of their skin color, the people they love, their abilities, the sex they were born with or even the amount of money they make. Recognizing that these struggles overlap and can make their lives even harder is something fundamental.

Not everyone was born in the same body and had the same privileges or injustices. It is time our society and systems catch up to the idea that social injustice is not just one layer, it’s many. 

Sarah Poyer profile pic

Columnist Sarah Poyer is a junior in women's and gender studies with minors in philosophy and biology. 

Opinion Policies

Editorials are longer opinion pieces that are written by a group of community members recruited across campus who address relevant issues on a local, national and international level. Editorials are research-based. The purpose of the Editorial Board is to promote discussion concerning relevant issues in the community while advising on possible solutions. Topics are chosen via relevancy and interests of the members, which are then discussed by the Editorial Board in order to reach a general consensus concerning the topic or issue.

Feedback policy

If you have a grievance concerning the content or argument of the Editorial Board, please contact either Opinion Editor Peyton Hamel (peyton.hamel@iowastatedaily.com) or the Editorial Board as a whole (editorialboard@iowastatedaily.com). Those wanting to respond to editorials can also submit a letter to the editor through the Iowa State Daily website or by emailing the letter to Opinion Editor Peyton Hamel (peyton.hamel@iowastatedaily.com) or Editor-in-Chief Sage Smith (sage.smith@iowastatedaily.com).

Column Policy

Columns are hyper-specific to opinion and are written by only columnists employed by the Iowa State Daily. Columnists are unique because they have a specific writing day and only publish on those writing days. Each column undergoes a thorough editing process ensuring the integrity of the writer, and their claim is maintained while remaining research-based and respectful. Columns may be submitted from community members. These are labelled as “Guest Columns.” These contain similar research-based content and need to be at least 400 words in length. The following requirements should be met: first and last name, email and relation or position to Iowa State. Emails must be tied to the submitted guest column or it will not be accepted or published. Pseudonyms are prohibited and the writer will be banned from submissions.

Read our full Opinion Policies here. Updated on 10/7/2020

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.