Skip to main content

Being oppressed is a struggle that many groups in society face on a daily basis, whether it be racial discrimination because one is Latino or being paid only 70% of what a man makes. Yet, oppression becomes even greater and more complex when one includes intersectionality which is how social, economic, and other categories overlap and intersect in a greater framework of oppression. Rather than discussing this matter from an ‘objective’ standpoint and using examples which one can easily distance themselves from, I will examine oppression and intersectionality using actual people.

I am a gay black man. At first glance, one might think that while I am oppressed due to my sexuality, that I benefit from male privilege because the United States is a patriarchal society. However, this is where intersectionality comes into play. Ordinarily, in a patriarchal society all males benefit from male privilege, yet when one factors in race, the situation changes drastically. Due to America’s history of consistently portraying black men as a threat to the larger society, I am viewed as a menace to society by my very existence. This can be seen by the fact that when black men (or men of color in general) are gunned down by police even in the most dubious of circumstances, a chorus of voices comes out of the woodwork arguing that the individual in question should have been killed as he was a threat or was potentially going to become one. Thus, not only do people of color who are a part of the LGBT community have to deal with the constant stigma, insults, and oppression from the society at large but they must also deal with the oppression that comes from being a person of color in a white supremacist society.

One of my friends is a Muslim woman. Due to her being a woman, she must deal with the misogyny in American culture, from the intellectual belittling of women (the constant mantra of women being viewed only as ‘emotional’) to the never-ending comparison of women’s bodies to a standard of beauty that exists only in  the mind. Yet, she must also deal with the stigma that comes from being a Muslim in a society that is not only quite ignorant of Islam, but also has been taught to hate Muslims and everything to do with Islam. Due to this, she is confronted with Islamaphobic misogyny where she is belittled due to her gender, but also considered  as a danger to society because of the stereotyping of her religion.

While we realize the overlapping of oppression and how it can affect people, there can be instances where a person is oppressed in one way, but has freedoms in others. This is not to say that privilege and oppression cancel each other out, but rather to acknowledge a situation that many find themselves in. One such example is a friend I have who is middle class gay white man. Though he is oppressed due to his sexuality and the homophobia and stereotypes that come with being gay, there is a major difference between himself and LGBT people of color. Other than his being gay, American society essentially rolls out a red carpet for him as he benefits from being a white male in a patriarchal society that favors whiteness.

Viewing oppression through the lens of intersectionality is empowering as not only does it give us a different manner of examining oppression and exploring ways to combat it, but this type of view also can potentially create new alliances between oppressed communities and thus create greater coalition of those working together to fight for their freedom.

Originally posted to DevonDB on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 07:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People, Milk Men And Women, Angry Gays, and LGBT Kos Community.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site