What Is Intersectionality?

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Jun 18, 2018

Intersectionality is the newest fad in political activism. What is it? Who’s involved? And, what does it even mean? Nobody is better prepared to answer these questions than Daily Wire editor-in-chief and podcast sensation, Ben Shapiro. He breaks it all down in this invaluable video.

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According to intersectionality, your opinion only matters relative to your identity and how that identity ranks among other victim groups.

  • Intersectionality was invented by Columbia Law School’s Kimberle Crenshaw, who was trying to “make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law do what I thought they should – highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced.”View Source
  • Intersectionality is a form of identity politics which promotes the idea of social bonds through overlapping identity categories, like race, gender, sexual orientation, and class.View Source
  • The theory has become commonplace on college campuses as part of a post-modernist agenda.View Source

Intersectionality takes people’s victim status and uses it to create political alliances to push the progressive agenda.

  • Intersectionality focuses on the places where various victim identities intersect, creating a united “us” versus “them” paradigm.View Source
  • Creating alliances based on victimization is not new. During the Civil Rights Movement, activists encouraged racial solidarity among blacks to combat oppression. Today’s activists, however, go further by urging disparate victim groups to make common cause with other victim groups.View Source
  • WATCH: “What Is Intersectionality?” – Andrew KlavanView Source
  • Related reading: “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” – Thomas SowellView Source

To the Left, the more memberships you claim in “oppressed” groups, the greater your aggrieved status—and political usefulness.

  • Intersectionality seeks to align disparate victim groups for political action.View Source
  • The theory posits a hierarchy of victimhood, with victim groups representing various degrees of victimization, and those in multiple groups having a greater aggrieved status.View Source
  • WATCH: “Intersectionality and White Privilege” – Jordan PetersonView Source

Intersectionality ideologues are so united by their victim status they will ignore blatant racism, sexism and anti-Semitism in their ranks.

  • In intersectionality, oppression is the essential binding principle between groups, which often share few core values or beliefs. The Women’s March included an alliance between the event’s co-president Tamika Mallory and notorious anti-Semite and racist Louis Farrakhan.View Source
  • Intersectionality often ignores actual problems that groups might face, for example, as Taleeb Starkes notes, the dramatic increase in single-mother families and gang violence in inner-cities.View Source
  • WATCH: Ben Shapiro discusses the conflicting politics of the Women’s March.View Source

Intersectionality promotes the hoax that we aren’t individuals but are to be judged instead on the basis of our group identity.

  • In the Left’s theory of intersectionality, individuals with their unique experiences, thoughts and ambitions are eclipsed by group identity, including racial and sexual identity.View Source
  • Intersectionality creates a victim identity, which gives people a way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.View Source
  • Related reading: “Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans” – Ben ShapiroView Source

By focusing on the places where various victim identities intersect, intersectionality creates a united “us” versus “them” paradigm.

  • Intersectionality’s founder, Columbia Law School’s Kimberle Crenshaw, says the theory was her "attempt to make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law do what I thought they should – highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced.”View Source
  • To Crenshaw and those who embrace her theory, America is full of victim groups, each with their particular set of grievances.View Source
  • WATCH: “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings” – Ben ShapiroView Source
  • Related reading: “Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth” – Ben ShapiroView Source

Contrary to the claims of intersectionality, the vast majority of Americans are open-minded, racially accepting and against sexism.

  • In America, men and women are treated equally under the law, and women are afforded the same educational and professional opportunities as men. And as Christina Hoff Sommers writes, “when you control for relevant differences between men and women (occupations, college majors, length of time in workplace) the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.”View Source
  • Ben Shapiro on racial progress in America: “America is one of the least racist places on Earth, and its rate of racism has been decreasing steadily for years.”View Source
  • WATCH: “Is America Racist?” – PragerUView Source
  • Related reading: “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait” – The Washington PostView Source

The only victim groups that matter in intersectionality are those that are politically useful to the Left.

  • Intersectionality has been particularly promoted by social justice activists and feminists, who seek to address how “overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.”View Source
  • Jordan Peterson on the dangers of the left’s view of group identity: “You're an exemplar of your race, sex, or sexual preference. You're also either a victim or an oppressor. No wrong can be done by anyone in the former group, and no good by the latter. Such ideas of victimization do nothing but justify the use of power and engender intergroup conflict.”View Source
  • WATCH: “Intersectionality and White Privilege” – Jordan PetersonView Source

You probably think your opinions matter.

You probably think you’re an individual with unique experiences, thoughts and ambitions.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but according to current leftist orthodoxy, you’re wrong. You see, your opinion only matters relative to your identity—and where that identity ranks on the hierarchy of intersectionality.

If you’re now thinking, “What the hell are you talking about?” you haven’t spent much time on a modern college campus.

Intersectionality is a form of identity politics in which the value of your opinion depends on how many victim groups you belong to. At the bottom of the totem pole is the person everybody loves to hate—the straight, white male.

And who’s at the top?  Well, it’s very hard to say, because new groups claim victim status all the time. No one can keep track.

So, how does this intersectionality thing play out?

Something like this:

Let’s say you’re a gay, white woman. Your opinion matters, but less than that of a gay, black woman. Why? Because while all women are oppressed by the patriarchy, and all gays are oppressed by the heterosexual majority, blacks have a victim status that whites obviously don’t.

Of course, a gay black woman’s victim status is less than that of a black trans woman, who ranks below a black, Muslim trans woman, and so on. The more memberships you can claim in “oppressed” groups, the more aggrieved you are, and the higher you rank.

Get it? Good, because it’s about to get even more complicated.

Intersectionality takes your victim status and uses it as the basis for creating alliances with other victim groups. Thirty or forty years ago, activists encouraged racial solidarity among blacks to combat oppression. But today, that’s not enough. Today’s activists demand blacks make common cause with other allegedly “oppressed” people—gays, lesbians, transgenders, Palestinians, Native Americans, whomever.

Here’s the logic:

A black gay and a Hispanic gay may not belong to the same victim group racially, but they do belong to the same victim group on the basis of their sexuality. By focusing on the places where various victim identities intersect, intersectionality creates a united “us” versus “them” paradigm:  righteous victims rising up together to fight the oppressor, those dreaded straight, white men.

This explains why at a rally protesting the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, you might see a contingent of lesbian activists. That’s intersectionality at work. They’re so united by their victim status that it doesn’t matter if Islamists throw gays off of buildings or murder female family members who defy their father’s wishes. Victim solidarity trumps all other considerations.

The term “intersectionality” was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University.

She explains that intersectionality “was my attempt to make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law do what I thought they should—highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced…”

To Crenshaw, America is a terrible place full of victim groups, each with their particular set of grievances. Why shouldn’t these victim groups get together and form a political coalition unified by the belief that the majority society has harmed them?

That some professor tucked away in an ivory tower would come up with this nonsense is not surprising. What is surprising—and disturbing—is that so many people actually go along with it. 

America is the most open, least racist nation on the planet. That professor Crenshaw is free to spin her nonsensical theories and get paid well for it should offer adequate proof of that. 

And since when do you have to live someone’s experience in order to understand them? You don’t have to live as a slave in order to understand that slavery is cruel and wrong. You don’t have to live as a woman in order to recognize the evil of rape.

Finally, and most important, intersectionality promotes the biggest hoax of all: that we aren’t individuals who are to be judged on the basis of how we act, but are merely members of groups to be judged on the basis of our group identity. In other words, you and I as individuals with our unique experiences, thoughts and ambitions count for nothing; our racial and sexual identity count for everything.

It’s hard to imagine an idea less likely to produce a free and equal America than that.

But what do I know? I’m just a straight, white male.

I’m Ben Shapiro for Prager University.

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