Is it possible for one human to possess multiple traits that work both for and against them? Intersectionality says Yes! It is very much possible, and that is the reason why the entire concept took birth – to expose existing flaws in an already established and predominant system of understanding man’s behavioral patterns.
Intersections, by definition, are obvious markers that serve to point out differences. An intersection on a major road will point you in separate directions, each one a branch of the same road but well defined in its uniqueness.
Now intersectionality as an analytical concept in sociology, shines a light on exemptions within hitherto socially accepted norms. Multiple personality differences existing within groups of people could intensively affect their lives positively or otherwise, just by convergence. The fact remains that a sole human can exhibit more than one social identity or behavioral focus. A fusion of multiple of these factors at once could serve to inflame an already tense situation. Intersectionality highlights multiple instances of advantage and disadvantage that may exist in one person.
The notion that overlapping identities can be found in one individual and both could work together or in direct contrast, is not a very popular one. Mankind has long been subject to fixed rules of grouping personality markers. That ‘call a spade, a spade’ mentality has been prevalent so long that it’s widely accepted and rarely disputed.
Let’s say for instance, females.
A scenario where a female has achieved a notable feat at her workplace and it is lauded a little more than her male counterparts’. This difference would be because she’s a woman that is breaking limits. That’s heightened advantage due to sex.
This same female goes home later to an abusive husband who displays violent dominance over her obvious lesser physical strength. That’s disadvantage due to sex.
Both variant markers are present in the same person. The female. She is both powerful and vulnerable. The two traits combine in different directions, resulting in escalated reactions. At work, she is a powerful female. At home, she is a vulnerable female.
Intersectionality seeks to dispel that one track mindset. The blatant conclusiveness. The wrong conviction that each human is limited to one character definition. That every person is one way and one way only. It is absolutely wrong.
A lot of factors in social identities can work in the bearer’s favour, or otherwise. Distinctive markers such as religion, mental health, sexuality, caste, height, career, disability, class, race and gender could fuse together to make a good or bad situation, better or worse.
A successful doctor that suffers from dwarfism resulting in his colleagues being extra nice to him. The variant of being a successful person with physical limitations, works to his advantage.
A gay man that is socially ostracised because he’s African. When you bring together the fact that he is gay AND ‘black’, both factors converge to make matters worse for him.
Summarily, intersectionality propounds that people can possess more than one identity, and all are naturally interwoven. A non-intersectional survey would group women as Female, whereas its intersectional counterpart would go further to distinguish ethnicity, age, sexuality, religion plus other personality pointers that would serve to emphasize how two or more of these factors could come together to create one distinct situation.
As a framework for conceptualizing social differences in human behavior, intersectionality is a useful tool for gender orientation and economic justice. Where a person could be judged and condemned based on one instance only, the feature takes into account other existing characteristics that could proffer reasonable explanations as to the WHY.
Of course, like every powerful proponent, intersectionality can also be employed to the disadvantage of the law and due process. Example, a killer that goes free because his lawyer is able to prove that he was mentally unfit when the act was committed. Thus, the crime is not in question, but the legal luminary has used the concept of intersectionality to prove that within the timeframe of offence, his client was in an alternate mental state and unable to differentiate right from wrong.
It however remains a great tool for analyzing and understanding the ways in which characteristics of human behavior intersect, and how these intersections contribute to personalized experiences of privilege and/or oppression. Intersectionality is a strong research method which projects the premise that people possess multiple layered traits borne out of history, operational structures and social relations. It analyzes the manner in which racism, class operation, negative family history, damaged mental health and discriminatory processes create unequal results that cannot be accepted without bias.
Twenty eight years ago, Kimberlé Crenshaw first proposed “intersectionality” as an effective means to explain the oppression of black women in America. The term has since gained traction, fast becoming a critical means to an end..the end being a clearer look at the in-depth character manifestations that make every human being unique.
In conclusion, intersectionality identifies the overlapping differences in human behavior that could fuse to form a greater disadvantage, or advantage. It seeks to explain that when it comes to personal traits, multiple factors in collusion could possibly intensify situations for better or worse. The judicial value of this framework cannot be overemphasized, however. As a powerful tool for verifying social identity markers which invariably affect human patterns, intersectionality has indeed proved to have tremendous value.
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