Thursday, February 27, 2020

Quote for Day: Intersectionality Is a "Lens, a Prism, for Seeing the Way in Which Various Forms of Inequality Often Operate Together and Exacerbate Each Other"

Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the powerful term "intersectionality," talks to TIME Magazine about what she intends with that term:

It's [i.e., intersectionality] basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What's often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.


Numerous statistics show that women still get paid less for the same work. That multiplies over a lifetime and means that the problem gets worse the older women get. There’s also a term called the feminization of poverty, which speaks to all the ways that life circumstances—like child rearing, divorce, illness—impact women more profoundly. Across the social plane, from issue to issue, from institution to institution, you see women doing on average more poorly than men. 
When you add on top of that other inequality-producing structures like race, you have a compounding. So for example, data show that white women's median wealth is somewhere in the $40,000 range. Black women’s is $100.


Anything that's meant to address gender inequality has to include a racial lens, and anything that's meant to address racial inequality has to include a gender lens. Unfortunately that hasn't been the center of political and policy debate.


The image of the citizen is still a male citizen. When you get to a few gender topics—like reproductive rights—then we talk about women. But politics and policy are pretty much like medicine used to be and still is: the male body is the body.

One obvious implication of these valuable — and intuitively compelling — insights is that public theology and pastoral programs cannot ever be driven by single-issue approaches (as in, "Vote anti-abortion because abortion is the most fundamental issue of all") if they want to address the complexity that is life in the real world. And both pastoral leaders and public theologians need a chastened, willing-to-learn approach to the world around them in which they solicit the voices of everyone, but most of all of those inhabiting the multiple margins of the world.

When it comes to this kind of catholic approach to pastoral policies and public theology, US Catholics have a long, long way to go.

No comments: