Intersectionality 101: Understanding Your Privilege And Oppression

Intersectionality 101: Understanding Your Privilege And Oppression

Explaining the misunderstood concept of intersectionality
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For many people, the word "privilege" can be triggering for them, and even this sentence is probably triggering people as they read. But what is privilege? That's where the issue lies because many people not only don't realize their privilege, but sometimes, people don't realize their oppression either. This is where intersectionality comes into play.

Intersectionality is the intersecting systems of privilege and oppression. Privilege is when someone doesn't have to face an institutionalized form of oppression, and oppression is when they do have to face it. Just because one person has one form of privilege doesn't mean they only have privilege. So what are these intersecting systems?

People can be oppressed and privileged in many different ways. Most commonly, you hear about gender, sexual orientation, race. This is where the tension comes into play because these are the most common systems you hear about. A straight, white cisgender male has straight privilege, white privilege, cis privilege and male privilege. However, often from my own experience, I will see these straight, white cisgender men get offended at being called privilege. That's a little ironic, because if being called privilege is insulting to you, then you probably are privileged considering there's a whole vocabulary out there just to degrade marginalized people.

Nonetheless, a straight, white cisgender man is not just privileged. There are other systems out there. Maybe he comes from a lower socio-economic status. He's oppressed for that. Maybe he isn't of Christian faith. He's oppressed for that. Maybe he suffers from a physical disability, has a mental health problem. He's oppressed for that too. If he's not conventionally attractive, he can even be oppressed for that. So, to straight, white cisgender men -- don't get offended; you are privileged in those areas. You are probably oppressed in another way, but be glad that you aren't oppressed in more ways.

Race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical and mental ability, religion, language, age, physical attractiveness, occupation, education are just some of the categories of intersectionality.

Privileged people -- don't apologize. Nobody is blaming you. It would be hypocritical to judge someone who is privileged because the majority of the time someone can't help but have their privilege. That's not what this is. This is about understanding your privilege, and realizing that there are certain institutionalized forms of oppression that you don't face, but one important thing is to remember that all oppression is connected.

So, don't feel guilty for having privilege. If you're blind to your privilege then that's where the problem starts. Just because you have some forms of privilege doesn't mean you've never worked hard for things in life and nobody is blaming you. It's not about you as individuals, it's about the systematic institutions of oppression.

People deserve to have the same chances and opportunities in life if they want them. It's as simple as that. So understanding your privilege and oppression is just one simple way to help.

Cover Image Credit: Rachel the Feminist

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Being A Lesbian Sucks

To women who say they wish they were a lesbian; you don't.

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My girlfriend is not a man, obviously so because she is my girlfriend, emphasis on girl. Society has been conditioned with men holding the power. In a world dominated by men being a lesbian has more problems than just homophobia.

There is an automatic assumption that because we are not with a man we are single. Without the dominating presence of a man other men feel safe to come on to women in lesbian relationships, whether they know we are together or not. We aren't always in a safe situation to say we are together so if he doesn't pick up on the social cues it only gives us two options: politely laugh and attempt to remove ourselves from the situation or say we aren't interested. Both options are equal in undesirability and saying we are uninterested can lead to them just pushing harder. The boyfriend card usually works, but lying about our relationship makes us feel terrible.

The fetishizing of lesbian couples and threesomes are a problem because of media and porn. They hyper-sexualize lesbian relationships until they are nothing but sex. From this the winning question, "Do you want to have a threesome?" With the assumption both or one woman in the relationship is a lesbian and not bisexual, pansexual, or etc. A threesome with a man is completely out of the question. The thing about lesbians is that we like women not men, a threesome with a man goes against our identity as a lesbian and makes no sense. And even if both women are bisexual a normal man wouldn't walk up to a straight couple and pop the question of a threesome. So don't do it to us.

We also find ourselves being disrespected as a customer in a professional setting. Men in job positions belittle women who are at the mechanic, the lawyer, the doctors offices, and the bank, for just a few examples. They assume we don't know anything and are ignorant, so they treat us with no respect. They attempt to manipulate us for this and that to achieve their own personal gain. Without a man lesbian couples are even more subject to this because we don't get any respect. A man will be immediately respected and in a healthy relationship he can establish a power balance with his woman partner to the person in charge. Lesbians, (and other single women) don't have these short cuts. We have to establish ourselves then and there for having worth and show we deserve to be treated like full grown adults. Hopefully we also have the knowledge to not suffer from manipulation.

The difference in skill sets is something that can be a problem for everyone in this sexist society. We associate pink with girls and boys with blue. Girls with cooking and guys with tools. Most of us were taught different things and learned different skill sets. Most women I know, including me, don't know how to change a tire. How many young men go off to college having never done laundry in their life? With lesbians we usually don't know an important skill that was specifically taught to men. We might not know cars, or tools, or how to tile a floor. We are set back in our development as fully functional people in a unit. We lack key skill sets that were predetermined for men, unlike straight couples where there is usually a balance of skill sets.

The problems that arise from lesbian relationships are problems associated with a male dominating society and the gender division we face along with it. To abolish these we have to achieve equality and work on teaching the generations to follow that women are just as good as men. It's tough being a woman and a lesbian even harder.

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