The Math of Intersectionality

Samridhi Sharma - 3A Chemical
Posted on: June 16, 2018

Before we begin my bi-weekly rant about everything that is wrong with the world, let’s talk about a new and refreshing idea that some of us have trouble understanding. Now, it’s a mouthful, so let’s try speaking it slowly once – inter-sec-tion-al-ity. Now let’s say it faster together – intersectionality. Awesome job, all of you who got it!

For those of you who are still thinking, “Intersectional feminism only allows people to define their complex experiences by allowing them to define themselves by more than one characteristic. Why would we want to overcomplicate our lives?” This is either for you or not for you; I give you the choice to stop reading, like you give me the choice to be a feminist.

So, here’s the thing, intersectional feminism is a beautiful concept. Imagine that on a given day you can only either be a woman, or a person of colour. Or imagine that on a given day, you can only either be a student or speak English. How much sense does that make? Intersectionality considers all this information from your background and lets you define your experiences using more than one characteristic that you possess. It appreciates that people of colour have different experiences than white people and that men and women have different experiences. This is not to say that everyone is not included! Your experiences, and how you define them, are welcome in the community, but this time you don’t have to limit how many variables you blame for it. Let me break it down for you engineers: contrary to what you have been taught in class, Y does not only have to depend on X. Bring out all the other alphabets and those Greek letters, but save sigma for the siemens. Just kidding, you are all welcome here, especially rho, because density can be reduced in this column!

If you are still unconvinced, and thinking, “All of this is fine. She is funny, and I can understand the concept now, but why do we need intersectional feminism?” To you I say, first of all, thank you. Second of all, Slovenia is focusing their Pride celebrations around intersectionality this year, so that has to count for something! And finally, intersectionality allows you to be an individual before you are made a part of a group. It appreciates the fact that all people belong to different groups and more often than not, two people are rarely in all the same groups. It is a step away from stereotyping and a step towards appreciating diversity. So why not give it a shot!

Now that we have recognized that I am a funny person, I can add the fact that I am a person of colour and a feminist, and we can use the concept of intersectional feminism to establish why I write this column. Math has never been this fun.

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