The Concept of Intersectionality

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Intersectionality, by Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, is the theory that people can be understood by intersecting social identities such as gender, race, social class and sexual orientation. Simply deals with our identities and how they are recognized to the world. This essay addresses the concepts of Intersectionality and their practicality.

Privilege and Intersectionality

It can be argued that Intersectionality was brought to light due to noticeable privileges within different sectors. The Oxford Dictionary defines privilege as a special right granted to specific people. As a result of privileges favored to specific people, it was realized that a criteria of identity was in play. For instance after 9/11 terrorist attack, researchers noticed poor birth outcomes and low birth weights among Arab Americans and Muslims. This resulted from the group being identified negatively thus leading to discrimination. The concept of privilege and Intersectionality intertwine as evident how the latter was connected to feminism, womanism and black feminism- all cases of groups that were not privileged due to their identity.

Performance and Performativity

Despite their confusing similarity, performance and performativity are extremely different. The difference between performance and performativity is key to grasping the thesis Butler put forth. Philosopher John L. Austin explains performativity as the ability of speech and communication to accomplish an action. However, Butler expands the idea of performativity not only to include speech acts but other acts as well. Therefore, Butler's thesis is that how one is identified to a specific gender doesn’t exist as a priori but constructed by the enactment of performative gender actions. In simpler words it states that one's gender identity arises from specific deeds just as a marriage arises from nuptial ceremony i.e. swearing of vows. On the other hand, performance is the enactment of a specific variety of artistic expression such as theatrical plays. Determining a specific act is performative is independent on if it is a performance. Numerous performative speech acts are of a ceremonial nature but we often make it a big affair (Butler 56).

Sex, Gender, and Intersexuality

Concept of sex and gender also arises in Intersectionality. Generally, sex is argued to be biological- in that- this is how we are born and identifies us to be either male or female. Gender is termed to be sociocultural, depends on the perception the society has on specific traits and behavior. As a result, gender can be changed by identifying yourself with what the society terms to be feminine or masculine but sex can't be changed. Regardless of this, intersexuality has brought up a challenge in sex/gender binary. Intersex denotes a person born with both combinations of female and male biological characteristics. This entails chromosomes or genitals that render it difficult to classify one as either a male or female.


Heteronormativity is the belief that people are categorized into distinct and complementary genders, each with their natural roles. Derived from the name itself, it states that heterosexuality is the normal way of life. Therefore it lays down the gender performance of each group in fixed roles. This terms to discourage causes of homosexuality, which is seen to be unnatural and condemnable.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Intersectionality broadens the idea of how different identities are perceived and treated regardless of personal conditions. This has resulted into division among people and unfair ruling. People should however learn to accept our differences and view it only as simple diversity but not ways of grouping ourselves.

Work cited

Butler, Judith. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. routledge, 2011.

December 12, 2023


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Gender Intersectionality

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