Saturday, March 11, 2017

intersectionality

 Image from Stencil

Always something new and much of it not good or at least disturbing. This is a term I heard for the first time when my husband emailed me a link to this article by Andrew Sullivan.


After reading the article and feeling fully disturbed, I wanted to figure out from where this movement came, how it began-- and is Sullivan being a drama queen or is this a real concern in terms of impacting our culture in a way that might not be good? Does a cause, even a good one, become perverted when it drowns out everything else?

If I was on college campuses or lived in the world of the intellectuals, I'd probably have heard the term. I read (when I began researching this) that Hillary used it as a way to connect with younger voters and those who followed Bernie Sanders. Now I was a Bernie voter and donator, but I still never heard it. 

Did Bernie use the term or just embrace the concept that all prejudice and unfairness is interlinked? I wonder now if looking for constant examples of unfairness can become a culture in itself. Does it win elections? If it did, what would it make happen?

This made me think how different my world is from the academic or even of the intellectuals. It's simpler and involves things like-- is that sheep limping? Are the new book's protagonists making sense? Will the cats stop fighting with each other? Should I deal with my ganglion cyst or is it just one of those things? Sunshine yesterday but how much rain today? How come my daughter isn't calling? How will the GOP health care impact Americans (figuring that one out requires a little intellectualism)? By evening, it involves what should I watch on TV-- documentaries are most popular right now. Anybody see the one on the Iceman mummy? It was interesting but its title misleading. 

In my seventies, it might seem I don't need to understand intersectionality; but over all those years, I have observed that these things have a way of coming out of one world and into another. Now that I have heard the term, I have certainly heard the theory as it's been expressed in protests and arguments. In looking for articles on it, I came across many. Google it and you can see the debate as to where the thinking is leading and what it must do-- or not.


That article was written in 2015 by author, Kimberl√© Williams Crenshaw, who is a professor at two universities and public speaker. Her speciality is critical race theory, misogyny,  and civil rights. Her articles are easily found on searches and there are a lot of them including a TED talk. She coined the term in the 1980s. Google her or the term and you'll find many opinions on it.

As a prestigious professor, she can probably speak anywhere she wants without a protest shutting her down. Will intersectionality gain what she hopes or will it lead to more negative results, stemming from resentment, for those who most need help? 

Lately, there has been a lot of talk regarding how much misogyny is out there. Is that growing or just being exposed? Can you make laws that change prejudice-- or must you change minds to have any effective results?

My concern with what happened at Berkley and more recently at Middlebury is when people refuse to listen to alternative ideas (abhorrent perhaps but not illegal) or more importantly block others from listening to them, where does that leave a democracy that depends on the exchange and debate of alternative thinking? Do we convince others by force or by better ideas? If someone has a disgusting idea to present, do we end its power by turning our backs and chanting or do we make strong points as to why it's wrong? If we can't effectively debate against ideas that we believe are wrong and instead try to silence them, where does that leave us as a culture?

In my research, I came across the following article which presents one premise as to where this leads. Selective outrage and unwillingness to effectively argue our issues does make us look stupid-- whether it takes intersectionality is debatable.

So, do we have too much info as a people or too little?

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