Intersectionality is a sociological and critical theory about how an individual can face multiple threats such as oppression, domination and discrimination when their various biological, social and cultural identities overlap such as gender, race, sex, wealth, age, ability, sexuality and many other characteristics. Intersectionality maintains that oppressive institutions such as racism, classism, ageism and countless more “isms”, are interconnected and do not act separately of one another. The idea of intersectionality applies to both genders but is traditionally applied to women. Victoria Bromley, author of Feminism Matters: Debates, Theories and Activism expresses intersectionality by explaining how power is utilized in various forms to empower and show privilege in the feminist society. She also discusses oppression as a tool of understanding how intersectionality is a complex idea. Bromley, argues using everyday examples and analysis to illustrate how intersectionality affects how a women can experience oppression in various ways and intensities depending on the way her social and cultural categories are interconnected.
In Feminism Matters, Victoria Bromley analyses the use of power and how it intertwines with intersectionality and the feminist culture. There are two different ways that power is visualized in our society. The first branch she discusses, is empowerment. Bromley defines empowerment as a power that permits people to live more accomplished lives. Empowerment is an important aspect of feminism as it promotes power to be shared and be used for good instead of evil. Bromley believes that empowerment is “collective, expansive, and beneficial…Empowerment increases the social, economic, political and spiritual strength of individuals and their communities” (Bromley 50). The other side of power that Bromley mentions is the power that focuses on the systems of inclusion and exclusion, hierarchies of privilege and the system of domination and subordination. This type of power is what defines the struggle of intersectionality and what feminists want to eliminate in our society. It defines the fact that women are all the same and share the exact same life experiences; which is untrue. Another big aspect of power within intersectionality is privilege. Privilege, “…refers to an unspoken and invisible advantage that is not earned but conferred based on markers of identity- gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, and age” (Bromley 53). Bromley explains how power can be associated with privileged. For example, she explains how the unearned privilege of a white candidate who is being interviewed, means they are offered the job based on their perceived skin colour. The relationship between power and privilege is important as in this example, it determines who gets the job based off of their skin colour, ignoring the fact that the applicant may not have the credentials for the job. This disqualifies all the applicants with ethnic names, various races and backgrounds to even get the opportunity because of discrimination and exclusion. In our society privilege is only associated with an image of a heterosexual, white, wealthy man and they are who are dominating this world. Feminists are trying to eradicate this idea of unearned privilege but the only way this can happen is if society becomes conscious of the seriousness of intersectionality.
Oppression is another main theme in Bromley’s argument about intersectionality. The oppression you face is based on your markers of identity, such as race, gender, sex, sexuality, wealth and many more but it is impossible to understand these categories as being, “separated from the oppressive structures that form interlocking systems of oppression” (Bromley 55). Some of these oppressive structures are patriarchy, racism, colonialism, Eurocentrism, heterosexism, transphobia and ableism and prevent change and social lawfulness. To understand the complexity of oppression we have to look at the methods used to oppress people such as domination, inclusion, exclusion, inequality and exploitation to acquire another people’s land, culture and wealth. For example, Eurocentrism, uses the method of inclusion and exclusion to show the world that the ideal image of a European is the only valuable identity there is. They are known to use methods of oppression, domination, inclusion, exclusion, inequality and exploitation to acquire another people’s land, culture and wealth. For example, Eurocentrism, uses the method of inclusion and exclusion to show the world that the ideal image of a European is the only valuable identity there is. These oppressive structures have greatly influenced our world when it comes to understanding how the effects of intersectionality depend on the time period, geological aspect and location.
In conclusion, people’s lives are multidimensional and intricate. Bromley expresses how intersectionality is based on oppression, privilege and power and how it’s important for us to understand the implications of these structures. The reality of today’s society takes into consideration how multiple identities connect and affect someone’s life.