Intersectionality also known as intersectional theory originally was a theory which was encoded in feminism. Intersectionality was a term in which feminists developed to explain how they were being socially oppressed because they were woman, in particular this theory addressed issues of the women’s suffrage movement and women wanting to retain the same rights as their male counterparts. As time progressed it became more common to see see it branched out into multidimensional levels of institutions such as- race, class, sexism, culture, religion, and even biological transgender. Intersectionality by definition aims to analyze multiple identities exposing different types of discrimination and disadvantages that occur as a consequence of the combination of identities (). According to author Patricia Collins, the theory of intersectionality argues most sociological theory makes the mistake of analyzing only one variable at time. She notes within her article variables are meant to work in groups not to be singled out one by one (Collins,1989). She also mentions the basic principle of this theory is to examine the ways in which race, gender, class and sexuality work together to achieve inequalities also known as, interlocking systems of oppression (Collins,1989) Through this essay the reader will understand how intersectionality has been integrated to help us understand the multiple ways in which privilege and oppression manifest in society on both systematic and individual levels.Order now
Intersectionality describes there is no singular experience of an identity. This theory focuses on using multiple factors to conceptualize systems of oppression. Patricia Collins, in her article, “Towards A New Vision” mentions to the reader it is important that we realize race, class, and gender are interlocking categories of analysis that together cultivate profound differences in our personal biographies (Collins,1989). Meaning, it is important to take into account an individual’s identity is more than just being female/male or black/white. Intersectionality allows for multiple factors to be analyzed at a time rather than just analyze dichotomous factors. For example, within intersectionality individuals are allowed to analyze the life of a Hispanic women, living in a low class neighborhood, who has a means of low education. Collins states, “we must re-conceptualize race, class, and gender in order to create new categories of connection and questions how can we transcend these barriers created by our experience with race, class, and gender oppression.” However, intersectionality brings forth many problems in terms of social hierarchy.
Understanding intersectionality is vital. Intersectionality allows for individuals to feel oppressed either by institutions, societal, or other individuals. Institutions create systematic oppression through schools, government agencies, work, businesses, and hospitals (Collins, 1989). Oppression allows for certain groups to hold dominant power over other groups through institutional levels. However, it is important to mention as Weber states, “they are not fixed systems or traits of individuals because they are contested and negotiated every day in social relationships, they change over time and in different places.” For example, during the early 1950’s individuals of color were not allowed to do the same type of work as those who were white. This changed as to how individuals of color lived and shaped their experiences due to their prescribed color of skin. However, these systems of oppression were not created just among women but men as well. Men of color were not seen as being equal to their white counterparts. Likewise, they were seen as being slaves- individuals who didn’t have the right to have freedom, education, and were meant to consume hard labor. As Collins, states, “Racism stripped blacks of legal rights, education, and control over their own personal lives.” This form of oppression was not only created by institutions, but, through society as well. Society was socially accepting to this idea and seen it as a norm. It became more common as time progressed on to see individuals, institutions, and organizations segregated according to race and gender. Society segregated bus stops, schools, drinking fountains, stores, and even parks. Not all individuals supported this idea however many did; those who did identify with their salient identities. Either intentionally or unintentionally they give produce prejudice attitudes or actions towards one social group. One example of this would be believing, all whites are intellectually superior. Whites quite often were seen as being privileged.
Members of the white community were viewed as having a special advantage over individuals of color, for no apparent reason at all. This idea was supported through all institutions across the board. For example, white men held higher paying jobs and classier jobs than individuals of color. They held jobs to benefit themselves and other people like them. They were allowed to achieve higher education and work as practicing doctors, lawyers, and judges. Hooks, within her chapter Being a Boy, boys received higher education than girls. Boys were allowed to go to school for free while, parents had to pay to send their girls to school. It is important to look at advantages in terms of the individual rather than systematically. Everyone has the right to be treated equal however, they are not. For example, Hooks explains in her chapter Patriarchy, a scenario in which her father beats her because, she wants to participate in the activities in which the boys are. This would be an example of privileged because it shows, women do not have the same standing as their male counterparts. Creating the illusion men are genetically superior over women. Collins, explains through her essay a scenario between white and black students and their relationship in which they had with each other. Through this section she explains their relationship and how certain institutions strip individuals of their power. The context of privilege describes what everyone should feel if our world was perfect.
Understanding oppression and privilege is critical to understanding how the world goes round. Oppression and privileged throughout the years has created many potential problems between race, class, and gender. It’s responsible for many historical movements. Oppression and privilege are parts of intersectionality in which work together quite often. Ideally, to avoid them individuals within society need to learn to set their differences aside and see everybody as being equivalent to one another. Rather than allowing for norms and history within society to create the stigma and views in which we hold towards other race, class, and genders throughout society. These aspects do not allow for individuals to prosper and get ahead in life. Oppression and privilege are aspects in which is potentially harmful to the human being.
Capitalism Intersectionality with Race and Gender
Our nation has been dependent upon capitalism for many centuries now. Capitalism has allowed for the economic system to prosper as well as, embellish. It is a system in which individuals of power use land, small business, corporations, and factories in order to produce a profit. Capitalism sets the characteristics for a competitive labor force. As a result, financial decisions are made by owners. Under a capitalistic system, opportunities are very slim. With benefits come disparities as well. Capitalism creates disparities and inequalities among individuals. It allows for gender, oppression, discrimination, class, and domination to intersect with one another. Through this essay, the reader will gain an understanding how capitalism has allowed for certain individuals to feel and be oppressed depending upon race and gender and the role capitalism has played in privileged and power according to race and gender.
Capitalism since the early seventeenth century has developed across the nation. However, during its time of development it has created a series of negative disparities on a number of select groups of people in regards to their race and gender. These negative consequences are a form of oppression. Oppression is generated through society and what society sets as norms. Oppressions allows for institutionalized power to be created and remain as a dominant sense of power over other individuals. Individuals whom are oppressed fear the capitalistic system. The only way in which they can overcome this oppression and fear is to over throw the capitalistic system (Bohemer, 1998). However, they can improve their working conditions by trying to raise their wages. As more products are needed to be produced individuals of power divide employees according to their race and gender. Depending on the requirements for the job and how much of the product needs to be finished contributes to who does what. This helps increase the level of oppression in which workers feel. These individuals oppressed are discriminated against due to their- economic standing, racial background, and gender. Oppression allows for members in the capitalistic economy to gain a profit. Members of the group being discriminated against receive a lower wage than the group of individuals whom are not being discriminated against. For example, it was common in the earlier years for women and people of color to receive lower wages due to their gender and race. It was not until the Boycott and the Women’s suffrage movement that these groups of individuals received laws to instill they shall be treated equal. Although, laws have been installed members within these two groups are still discriminated against in today’s capitalistic society.
An individual’s race and gender plays an important role in a capitalistic economy. As Aker notes within, his article capitalism entered the United States as a system in which was dominated predominately by white males (Acker, 2006). This domination created gender/race segregation and created inequalities in wages (Acker, 2006). He notes, within his article gender is a subculture in which has been embedded in capitalism. Race and gender allows for individuals to be treated differently under a capitalistic economy. “While white men were and are the main publicly recognized these are just not any white men (Acker, 2006).” White men are viewed as individuals whom were superior/privileged over other individuals within the capitalistic economy work force. They are individuals who moved from farmers to professional business men, notes Acker. Within his article Acker also mentions, “A living wage or a just wage for white men was higher than a living wage for white women or for women and men from minority racial and ethnic groups (2006).” White men are individuals in which receive higher wages over all other racial ethnicities as well as sex. Generally, speaking they are individuals in which help encourage racial/gender segregation. Allocating wage inequality helped to maintain and grow occupations such as clerical, farming, and factory jobs as segregated low paying jobs (Acker, 2016).
Individuals of color are not seen as being equal in comparison to white men. Individuals of color are more likely to be unemployed and receive lower wages than whites (Ferber,2008). They were more likely to produce manual labor and work under harsh conditions. According to, “Black workers were assigned the most backbreaking, dirtiest, least desirable jobs and had to accept them because they had no alternatives (Bonaich, Alimahomed, Wilson, 2010).” People of color did not have the right to have higher class jobs. According to Marx’s chapter “Racism Divides the Working Class” people of color were not treated as equal individuals compared to their white counterparts because, more labor could be coerced due to them not having the political and military strength to resist. This concept allowed for the idea of racial inequalities to spread across the nation. However, it is interesting to note, black men had a higher standing than women.
Women much like the people of color felt oppressed. During the early stages of capitalism, religion was a dominant message in individual’s life. Given, individuals practiced their religion and believed women were to do the household work and be dainty individuals whom obeyed what their husbands said, they were not seen as having the mental capacity to withhold a job. As the years went on and woman retained their rights they struggle to achieve equal opportunities and wages to their male counterparts. However, due to capitalism only having so many opportunities many in which men control women cannot even begin to reach equality under a monopolistic gender system. Women of color faced a severity of hardships. Black women were treated as if they were workhorses, genderless, and needed no protection (Bonaich, Alimahomed, Wilson, 2010). They were expected to do the same type of field work in which men produced. Meanwhile, white women are treated as delicate individuals whom needed protection (Bonaich, Alimahomed, Wilson, 2010).
Capitalism is a selfish system in which allows mainly white men to become filthy rich while the rest of the individuals remain poor. Many believe it is a result of the concept some work harder than others. However, due to the complex system segregating according to race and gender it is going to be nearly impossible for some people to even flourish. Men who have monopolized and dominate the better jobs have set standards and help spread the racial/sexism idea they cannot perform their jobs. Capitalism has allowed for many potential problems to be brought and instilled within the work force. It has allowed for individuals to be marginalized and their work to go underappreciated. Capitalism is a system in which individuals and society need to analyze and decipher whether or not it is beneficial to meet the needs of all individuals within society.