The Left's New Favorite Multisyllable Buzzword: Intersectionality

Learning is a lifelong process, continuing long after we leave formal educational institutions. Consider it brain exercise, keeping your cerebral cortex well-toned and muscular, with synapses firing as fast as Maxine Waters’ gums when she is in front of a television camera.

Aside from crossword puzzles and reading, one can learn new words or even a language to challenge and exercise your brain. Fortunately, the Left provides the American public with ample opportunity to learn new words and even an entirely new language, similar to “Newspeak”, the language of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984.

In simpler times, genders were expressed in a binary fashion – boy/girl, man/woman, male/female. Simple words for a simple time. Now that we are “woke”, another new word, we are faced with 112 genders at latest count, certain to increase each year, providing ample new vocabulary words to exercise your brain on, from “adamasgender” to “aerogender”, and that’s only the A’s.

“Privilege” is another new word, formerly designating a special right or advantage, like a kid being allowed a second dessert or a later bedtime. Now privilege is something to be ashamed of, for it represents unearned benefit by virtue of skin color, race, gender, or any other social construct.

Then there is “woke,” but not as in how you woke up in the morning. Instead woke is much the same as virtue signaling, or as Urban Dictionary defines it, “The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.” For examples, watch a CNN panel discussion, an episode of 60 Minutes, or any of the entertainment award shows to be told how much more they care compared to you.

Intersectionality is a tougher concept to grasp. The term was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a civil rights activist and legal scholar. Think of her as a more scholarly Barack Obama of a different gender.

It’s a word Alexandria Occasional-Cortex likes to throw around, between her usual, “um”, “ya know”, “like”, and “whatever”. The simplest definition I could find is this one.

The complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.

This means that a poor, black woman has three discriminatory strikes or disadvantages against her, compared to a non-poor black woman, such as Oprah or Beyoncé, with only two such disadvantages.

Rather than using the Martin Luther King Jr admonition to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, intersectionality does the opposite. It creates a scorecard of identity politics, with a hierarchy of identities and grievances against oppressive society.

For example, in the hierarchy of religion and gender politics, Muslim ranks higher than homosexual, which ranks higher than Christian. Just look at how Christian baker Jack Phillips in Colorado was demonized for refusing to create a same sex wedding cake as it violated his religious beliefs. Yet a Muslim bakery in Dearborn Michigan can refuse the same request with nary a peep from the media or the state civil right commission.

Intersectionality can also be a useful term for explaining the left’s own privilege, something they like to project on others rather than looking in the mirror.

Start with the crowded field of Democrat presidential candidates. Despite how the 2019 Democrat party is “woke” after electing the 3 harpies of color to the House (Tlaib, Cortez, and Omar), their “intersectionality” of being women of color is not carrying over to the rest of the Democrat presidential candidates.

Instead there is the intersectionality of white, old, rich, male, and heterosexual placing Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders as the top choices for Democrat voters in a recent poll. Robert Francis O’Rourke has joined the fray and he is just a younger version of Joe or Bernie, with the same other intersectionality.

Next is the college admission scandal and who was involved. The intersectionality of wealthy, Hollywood, liberal, and privileged created the perfect storm of entitlement, illegally cheating, and jumping to the front of the line.

This is the “woke” Hollywood crowd, incessantly braying about social justice, equality, fairness, diversity, and other sweet-sounding virtues, but when it comes to their own children, they are anything but. The same leftists calling for President Trump’s indictment have ironically found themselves indicted rather than Trump.

Note the combination of white, wealthy and liberal, of the two desperate Hollywood housewives recently indicted. This is the intersectionality of privilege, not what sociologist Crenshaw had in mind when she first wrote about the term.

Moving from Hollywood to Deep State Washington, DC, we see a similar type of intersectionality. This time it’s the intersection of power, Democrat, wealth, establishment, and Trump hatred. Interestingly race does not factor into this intersectionality as there are plenty of persons of color involved – Obama, Lynch, Holder, Jarrett, and Rice.

Yet look how these factors intersect, or combine, to attempt to destroy a duly elected president. Intersectionality at its finest.

This concept looks at how particular attributes (so-called forms of discrimination) combine, but more interesting is how they conflict. Let’s play a game and look at the hierarchy of discrimination and see how many do not intersect.

(photo credit)

An example is how one grievance group can be against another grievance group, and that’s allowed, such as a Muslim being anti-gay or anti-abortion. This means that Muslim sits higher on the identity politics totem pole than homosexual or transsexual or abortion rights..

Take Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as another example. Despite the intersectionality of being black and poor, his conservatism trumped everything, and the left tried to destroy him. What if he were Muslim? Would the Democrats then have gone easy on his confirmation? What if he were also transgendered? Even if he checked all those boxes but was conservative, he would still have been vilified.

Ask Milo Yiannopoulos how intersectionality has worked out for him.  Because he is conservative, his sexual orientation becomes irrelevant in the intersectionality hierarchy.

Now you have another big word in your quiver, to throw around at progressive cocktail parties. At least when you hear it tossed about by an MSNBC panel, you will be woke enough to put your privilege aside and understand the discussion. For me, I still think of intersectionality as crossing lines and angles from high school geometry. I guess I’m not woke.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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