PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
MzDale
 
Comments: 4
Article views: 812
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all MzDale's badges.
 

Making sense of the crossroads of theory and experience

08 August 2012, 10:31

Inga Dale is a 22 year old Honours student at the University of the Western Cape. She aspires to work for the United Nations in New York City. She has her sights set on doing her Masters in 2013.

Theory can be painfully abstract. Yet when I got introduced to the word intersectionality it changed my approach to thinking. Hearing this word for the first time was a bit confusing and Microsoft Word empathically declared a spell check for it. The word intersectionality is not something that can be found in a dictionary. It is used to explain how different forms of oppression interact. For example, race, class and gender are always connected. Thinking about intersectionality led to think about how fixed categories such as gender, sex or class are always fluid and unsettled. I appreciate the works of the critical legal theorist, Kimberly Crenshaw, who explains how race oppression and gender oppression interact in the lives of Black women.

When we speak of intersectionality, we can paint a picture of an intersection of a busy crossroad with north, south, east and west as directional points. Each directional point can be classified as a type of social category. However, these are not fixed categories-different types of oppression occupy different directional points. So, what happens when an individual comes across this crossroad?

I will use Caster Semenya-who has been relentlessly categorized and labeled-as an individual who faces this crossroad.

As Caster walks towards the northern part of the crossroad, the agents of “categorization” stop her and demand that she picks a category, either male or female. Caster suprises them all when she announces that she does not fit into either category and insists that her “non-category” is biologically normal. The agents at this point disagree, they insist that sex is categorized into either male or female. The agents then question Caster about her gender. Caster explains that she has her own sense of “being” therefore she does not feel the need to “act like lady” or “act like a man”. Horrified by this answer, the agents declare that only two categories exist-masculinity and femininity. This leads Caster to consider deep soul-searching about her identity, her relationship with her body and her relationship with the world.

Caster then heads South towards class where the agents at class give her specific categories to choose from. However, having grown up poor and then becoming a world class athlete, Caster moves freely among these castes and she identifies on the basis of where she is-whether on an international flight or in a local taxi.

Caster then heads East where she faces probably one of the biggest issues facing any country-race.  As a black woman, Caster faces the challenges of being a woman of colour in numerous ways. Wherever she may go and whatever she may do, being a black female would always play a role within her societal context, whether it is a positive role or a negative role.

Lastly, Caster faces West. Caster is not disabled in any way and definitely not in the conventional sense in which society defines “disability”. However, the agents declare that certain bodies are normal while others are somewhat inferior. Even Caster, who is considered to be intersex is in fact socially defined as disabled-not normal, someone who needs to be fixed. For example, intersex babies undergo sex reassignment surgery so that they can fall within the fixed categories of either male or female.

Intersectionality has shown me how different types of oppression in society do not act independently of one another furthermore I have also learnt that we each have intersectional identities that are shaped through systems of power relations, and through experiences of oppression and how this results in social inequalities and marginalization.

Place yourself in the neighbourhood of patriarchy, in the town of capitalist, in the suburbs of able bodied people, in the country of race and in the world of class. What intersections are you faced with? What impossible journeys has society mapped out for you?

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

CinderFella

Once upon a time there lived an unhappy young androgyne. Her mother was dead and her father was unemployed with bad debt. His creditors didn't like her one little bit. Read more...

5 comments 378 views
Guide for graduates

There is a general misconception among the youth that once you have finished varsity and have a job, you have to ‘show people’ that you are now working.  Read more...

4 comments 272 views
Submitted by
cvh23
Are the Economic Freedom Fighters...

Let’s find out by comparing official EFF policies with section 2 of the communist manifesto: Read more...

5 comments 471 views
Submitted by
Scooterza
What do we do about the mob menta...

Over the last few years, my sense is that mob mentality or lowest common denominator thinking has taken root in South Africa and is growing ever stronger.  Read more...

5 comments 499 views
Submitted by
Asanda Sibobi
Generations plight, our fight!

So, like most people, I have finally watched the much talked about “Generations Actors Guild Press Conference”. O Read more...

13 comments 601 views
When Oscar Pistorius goes to pris...

Oscar Pistorius is due for his verdict and sentencing on 11 September 2014. This is after a lengthy trial since March 2014. Read more...

14 comments 4094 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.