Ending oppression by oppressing even harder.
Intersectionality is a concept created in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, professor at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School. She coined the term to help explain the oppression of African American women. Presented in a paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum titled, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A black Feminist Critique of Anti-discrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”, Crenshaw sought to explain that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms independent of either being black or a woman. Rather, it must include interactions between the two identities, which should frequently reinforce one another. Over the past 32 years, the idea of intersectionality has broadened beyond just a criticism of feminism to include characteristics of gender, caste, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, and believe it or not, height.
Unsurprisingly, Crenshaw is also recognized as an expert in Critical Race Theory. It is no surprise that Critical Race Theory relies heavily upon intersectionality.
My critique of both intersectionality and Critical Race Theory (to shorten my typing, I’ll use the acronym of “I&CRT” for the combination) is based upon my recognitions that 1) for either to work, oppression of one class at the hands of another must be accepted as a fact, 2) the characteristics responsible for this “oppression” are rigidly defined and are largely assigned to an entire “class” (i.e., all black people, all women, all disabled people), 3) the characteristics are peripheral to success and characteristics such as the presence or absence of drive, desire, intelligence and the practice of successful cultural behaviors are never considered (for example, I&CRT cannot explain the individual success of any member rising from one of the defined classes), 4) the reasoning in support of both theories is riddled with confirmation bias, meaning that only data supporting either or both is recognized as valid, and a Unified Theory of Everything perspective has been adopted that everything is twisted in support of the theories – much in the same way as every weather event (more hurricanes, fewer hurricanes) is used to explain “climate change”, and 5) the “cure”, the logical endpoint of both theories is the end of individual liberty and self-determination and the forced equity, the equalization of outcomes, as theorized in communist theory.
To address the basis of both theories, we first must ask this question: “Is there true oppression in America?” By that question, I mean the true, institutionalized oppression that meets the textbook definition of the word “oppression”.
Dictionary.com lists four definitional variants of “oppression”:
- the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.
- an act or instance of oppressing.
- the state of being oppressed.
- the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally, or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.
I would argue that both theories rest upon the last variant – the feeling of being heavily burdened. Of course, in true dialectical, post-modernist form, if you feel oppressed, it must mean that you are oppressed but feeling heavily burdened is not the same as BEING heavily burdened. Simply feeling burdened is the equivalent to the emotional reaction to others having more toys than you do – and that is not oppression, that is ENVY.
As to my points in #2 and #3, I&CRT has no explanation for why women, blacks and other minorities succeed. The fact that there are members of all the classes that are purported to be “oppressed” are CEO’s, successful entrepreneurs and in today’s America are represented in every economic strata of the economy. If I&CRT are to be believed, every member of those “oppressed” classes should not exist in those successful positions.
As to the aspect of class as defined and incorporated in I&CRT, I will defer to Helen Pluckrose, a British academic known for her critiques of critical social justice and promotion of liberal ethics, who wrote of the fallacious assignment of class, noting:
“An individual’s identity must be tied to their group categories and must be expressed in an intersectional way. People of color who transgress the boundaries of what someone of their race or ethnicity is supposed to think receive the most vitriol (as heretics always do). Black people considered not to espouse properly Black views which include far-leftism, unconditional support of Black Lives Matter and even specific sports teams are likely to be called “Uncle Toms” or even subjected to racial slurs including “coon” or “house nigger.”
The British liberal blogger, Tom Owolade, takes strong exception to this language,
‘Because inherent in those terms is a sinister implication: ‘if you disagree with how I think a brown person should think, you’re still a nigger’ – a slave subordinate to the interests of white people. ‘If you disagree with me, you can’t be thinking for yourself’ is the message.’”
Both intersectionality and Critical Race Theory, by undervaluing universally shared human experience and rights, and individual aspects such as personal autonomy and distinctiveness, rather choosing to place an intense focus on group identity and intersectional ideology, serves to place individuals in tightly restricted boxes. Confirmation bias is represented by the I&CRT theorists only by focusing on these assigned classes and ignoring the individuals who posses the characteristics of a particular class and yet are not “oppressed”. In short, the I&CRT theorists cherry pick certain characteristics that support their theory and ignore those that do not.
When everything is racist/oppressive, nothing is racist/oppressive.
The last aspect, that to overcome this oppression felt by the various “oppressed” classes, forces the discussion of the word “equity”. This is a word that cannot be defined on a class level – because within every class, there is a wide variation of ability and capability. The only way to look at “equity” is on an individual level and that means everybody must be equally oppressed. This idea is ridiculous on its face – and no matter what asinine argument is used, the conclusion is inescapable, to assure “equity” for any individual who cannot perform as well, is as dedicated, or has as much drive to succeed as another individual within the class, will unavoidably require oppression of the latter individual to the benefit of the former.
Call it what you will, THAT fits every aspect of any definition of oppression.