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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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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The Inward Struggle Of Being Trans And Christian

When who you are does not match what you believe.

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I was probably 15 when I started to feel my gender was a little different from my body. This only really came with my periods and my chest. Every period, I was in agony not just because of physical pain, but because of mental pain as well.

I have always been a person who wants to know why.

Why?

Why is this happening?

Why was I born?

Why was I brought into this world only to bleed and be in pain while in it and why does no one want to seem to help with this battle.

I, so far, have asked two doctors for a hysterectomy only to be laughed right out of the office. What I really want is to be OK with my body, to feel secure in it, to be happy, and not to bleed. When I first shared these feelings with my father it was because I could hold it in no longer. I was at a breaking point. I had passed every single male I saw on the street and felt extremely jealous, not to mention the jealousy I often felt towards my own boyfriend. I felt this jealousy for my cisgender guy friends, boyfriend, my little brother.

I felt it for practically everyone.

As my father and I began talking, he brought up hell. Hell is something I actually think of quite often. It is something that I know the Lord sends people to when they do not believe Him. That is always what I have believed, however, this sort of shed new light. I never really thought of God sending people to hell for disobedience.

When I was 15 I started wondering why.

Why did I have to have a period?

Why did God do that?

Why must I bleed once a month?

Why was I not born a boy?

I wanted a flat chest, no uterus, testosterone, and I just wanted to shed the skin I was in. It got worse. It hit the worst when I graduated high school and went to college. College was a time of freedom. I had left my parents and was on my own, however, along with being on my own came a world. Life seemed so aimless, every period I had, I wanted for the next, and I did not want to go on hormonal birth controls to help or stop it due to the fact that pumping that much female hormones into my body seemed unbearable, not to mention the success rate of fulling stopping a menstrual cycle can be slim (however, more women should know that completely stopping your cycle is perfectly fine and healthy, but that is a different article for a different day,

I lost my purpose.

When I was young, I was bursting of life. I practiced my Oscar speeches and interviews with Jimmy Fallon or Ellen Degeneres in the shower every single day. I had dreams. As I got older, I felt them slip from me. I used to dream and dream and dream. But now I am lost in reality. When I used to dream, I always pictured a girl. I always pictured me. I saw myself winning Oscars, talking to Jimmy Fallon, and laughing with Ellen in a female body. I don't know what to see anymore. Because these days, I truly struggle with seeing myself as a girl. The little girl who was born in 1999 grew up to wish that event had never happened. I really can't picture doing those things anymore as Lizzie anymore, because soon she will be gone.

It feels serial to type that name out.

It feels odd to see it on paper. It is something my ears still perk up to and something I still feel a bit of a connection to which I will keep in consideration if and when I decide to change it. But overall, I am terrified. I am petrified of God, of life, of the future. Many times I have been told to pray and to accept this body, but doing such things are not even close to as easy as everyone insists. I am crippled by dysphoria. There is not a waking moment where it is not on my mind. I wake up anxious often, sometimes I even wake up in the middle of my deep slumber from nightmares. I dream of the blood coming from a place I never asked, I dream of the millions of others who have to deal with such horrors, I dream of hell and of Heaven.

My life with dysphoria is a living nightmare.

I want to give some hope. I want to give hope that it will not always be this way and that change is possible. I am hurting. I am closeted. I am disappointed with the lack of research of making the lives of trans individuals, women, and others seeking to suppress dysphoric bodily occurrences.

In this day and age, we shouldn't have to have periods. We shouldn't have to stay at home. We should progress in our technology and medicine. But these changes just never seem to come quite quickly enough.

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