Intersectionality 101: Understanding Your Privilege And Oppression
Politics and Activism

Intersectionality 101: Understanding Your Privilege And Oppression

Explaining the misunderstood concept of intersectionality

20122
Rachel the Feminist

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.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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