Intersectionality on the way

Gender theories are constantly moving forward, are posing themselves in relation to the major equality issues of the time, they are critiquing each other, they are building on each other, and are responding to cultural imperatives.

If in the 1970s and 1980s it was the theories of equality and the theories of difference, later the (de)construction has prevailed, which in turn is a basis for the currently strongly spreading theories of intersectionality .

Intersectionality is a concept that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States, the name Kimberlé Crenshaw is inseparable from its genesis. It was Black feminists who criticized their white counterparts for presuming to speak for them, because their contexts are markedly different from those of white women. They are affected not only by gender discrimination, but also by the ethnic discrimination that can be pinned on skin color: sexism meets racism. Intersectionality theories assume that structuring categories such as gender or ethnicity cannot be viewed in isolation from each other, but must be analyzed in their interconnectedness.

Stereotypical notions of men* and women* regarding their attitudes, behaviors, interests, or competencies, and the associated hierarchizations and social power aspects, thus interact with equally largely unquestioned notions about other diversity factors. Sexism and racism thus also meet social status, religion, education, sexual orientation, disability, or age. Kimberlé Crenshaw offers the metaphor of an “intersection” for this, in the middle of which marginalized groups can be thought of as encountering discriminations (accidents) from multiple or all directions of the roads simultaneously. Forms of discrimination of gender and age paired with religion, for example, cannot be thought of separately in this context, but influence each other, potentiate each other, and this also means that new forms of discrimination can thus emerge.

This all seems very logical, but at the same time difficult to grasp. When and where do such forms of discrimination associated with power differentials and hierarchies occur? What do these multiple discriminations mean for those affected? How can they be dealt with? In any case, these questions represent a broad field of action for intersectionality-oriented research.