Thursday, 21 June 2012

Intersectionality 1: In which we define our terms:



OK, So I’m going to have a dive into the massive and Choppy waters of Intersectionality 

Intersectionality is a sort of add on to feminism. It’s the shocking idea that gender is not the only basis on which people might be oppressed and that other thing (class, race, sexuality) might be worth looking into too. Nothing to argue with there.

My slight problem with Intersectionality (and it’s a geeky one) is that adding new bits to an existing analysis (feminism) to make it encompass more things can be a little bit clumsy and can lead to some odd conclusions.

Some of the limitations have been very well over here by the magnificent Mhairi. I comepletely love this post and once based an entire gender training day on it.  

As Mhairi point out, Intersectionlity (and the term Kyriarchy used here to describe the totality of these intersectional oppressions) does not tend to deal well with class. This is because class is to do with material things. On a grand scale: who owns land, minerals, coal. On a small scale: who has access to housing, education, food, healthcare. What Marxists call the Base of Society.

The rest, Culture, Law, Social Attitudes is what Marxists call the Superstructure. Basic rule of thumb: the Superstructure is determined by the Base. In other words you can understand most things about society by looking at who has material things and asking yourself why that is.

I’m new to the Intersectional analysis but my prejudice is that it tends to deal with issues of Superstructure better than issues of Base. So I'm developing a new rule of thumb: Use Intersectionality to understand Superstructure and Crude Marxism to understand Base. 

The whole reason Intersectionality falls down on Class is that Class is all Base. In fact, an over reliance on analysing the Base conditions of society is sometimes called “Class Reductionism.”

Class Reductionism, in case you've not guessed is more or less where I fall. However, you can’t be a class reductionist all your life. The world moves on and I can’t help but notice all the hip young gunslingers are talking about “oppression” and “privilege” and “kyriarchy” these days and staying in the lefty loop is gonna mean some running to catch up.

So, over the next couple of posts, I’m going to have a go at putting down some of my thoughts through my adventures in intersectionality. These will be theoretically flawed because I’m only just finding my way with this stuff and hopelessly self indulgent and personal because this is my personal blog and that’s what a personal blog is FOR goddamn it.

Suggestions on reading materials very much appreciated. Chippy “call outs” expected and accepted with relative good grace. Here we go……