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Intersectionality - a Framework to Advance the Feminist Politics

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Intersectionality- A framework to advance the feminist politics

Intersectionality has been long seen as a favoring framework for Feminism agenda. The concept of intersectionality is subjective, and it has been defined by scholars in several way. In an interview with (….) Crenshaw says, “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects”. In this paper I will demonstrate how two key readings uses intersectionality to favour the struggle of feminists in different contexts and how intersectionality as a framework for feminism traverse through and applies to the wide region of world.

Crenshaw in her article “Mapping the margins” explores that how women of colour are marginalised in the USA as a result of overlooking of intersectionality of race and gender resulting from identity politics. She engages with two social movements of feminism and antiracism and shows in her article that how these activism failed women of colour when race and gender was considered in isolation. She develops her theory of intersectionality using violence against women of colour which includes domestic violence and sexual abuses and also depicts through various examples that how women of colour has not been able to receive appropriate action and attention being victim of identity politics and not being seen through the lenses of intersectionality.  She mention “Focusing on two dimensions of male violence against women-battering and rape-I consider how the experiences of women of colour are frequently the product of intersecting patterns of racism and sexism, and how these experiences tend not to be represented within the discourses of either feminism or antiracism. Because of their intersectional identity as both women and of colour within discourses that are shaped to respond to one or the other, women of colour are marginalized within both” (P-1244).

Crenshaw develops her analysis in three sections structural intersectionality, political intersectionality and representational intersectionality. In structural intersectionality she demonstrates that how social institutions only cater to one identity of black women as they fail to see the interaction of multiple identity resulting in not really being helpful for women of colour. In similar way she explains how political intersectionality envisages identity politics silencing women of colour on issues of domestic violence and politicising a private matter such as domestic violence as matter of state and police. Where black women have been unable to get a strong voice because feminism in US privileges white women and anti-racism privileges black men as subject who have been largely assumed to be punished for violence when compared to white men. In Representational intersectionality Crenshaw discusses how violence against women and need of black women, who are victim of violence, takes back sheet because of cultural representation and culture and ethnic integrity again being the primary concern rather than an oppressed black women.

It’s very interesting to see the way Crenshaw compares the intersectionality approaches mentioned earlier in her article with antiessentialist approach and advocates for it which has its root in postmodernism. In the article in her conclusion Crenshaw discusses the idea of collision which identifies with intersectionality being collision of different identity. And hence She argues for considering intersectionality approach in viewing identity like “women” so as to increase the possibility to included all category of women without collapsing it into a particular identity and hence strengthening the subject of feminism women and making the category itself more inclusive and applicable to wide regions of society.

In the article by Avtar, she put forwards the agenda of intersectionality in relevance to feminism and to discuss the category of women. She clearly states that debates of intersectionality has been useful in taking forward the feminism in previous decades and are still relevant in order to provide certain guideline and learnings from past experience to advance the feminism agenda. Avtar takes three pronged approach to explain the contribution of intersectionality towards the feminism agenda. She first talks about the previous debates happened amongst representatives of different feminists ideologies and approaches having differences based on sexualities, gender, racism and social class particularly referring to feminism contestations among feminists involved in anti-slavery struggles and campaigns for women’s suffrage. Similar to Crenshaw, Avtar also challenges the essentialist notion of ‘women’ and favours the intersectionality approach which captures the intersections of multifaced of lives of women. Avtar mentions that “ The concept [intersectionality] that different dimensions of social life cannot be separated out into discrete and pure strands”. She foregrounds this in the second part of article by giving several examples in different but interrelated context depicting how disavowal for consideration of categories like gender, sexuality, religion and class tend to marginalize women. In third part of her article Avtar discusses about the contribution of theories such as postcolonialism and poststructuralism towards the  intersectional analysis of theoretical and political approaches which has helped in advancing the feminist agenda. She raises pertinent questions about how the latest trend of postmodern imperialism will affect the feminism and relates the importance of intersectionality to subvert it.

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