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Engl112 When Mathematics Doesn’t Work: The Intricacy of Intersectionality

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ENGL112 08A

Sept.22 2017

When Mathematics Doesn’t Work: The Intricacy of Intersectionality

“Intersectionality” is formed from the word “intersection” which represents some elements belonging to two or more sets in mathematics. However, intersectionality actually has little connection with mathematics. Actually, it was first mentioned by Kimverlé Crenshaw in 1980s to deal with the fact that social justice problems like racism and sexism often overlap (Crenshaw, 1). After decades of research and investigation, Kimverlé’s idea on feminism of color women is thought to be less comprehensive because “intersectionality” now is not only limited to race and gender but also reflects “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations.” (McCall,1) According to “intersectionality as buzzword” by Kathy Davis, Intersectionality includes “what concept actually means” and “how it can or should be applied in feminist inquiry” (Davis, 67). The intricacy of intersection illustrates a methodology how different identities overlap without working simply like addition in the mathematics.

In The complexity of intersectionality, McCall pointed out the bizarre situation which occurred after the feminist and the anti-racism campaign started, “All the women are white, all the blacks are men (McCall, 4)”. It basically depicts how the public finds the discrimination and oppression in the society earlier the concept of intersectionality. The way the public see gender discrimination and race discrimination are partial and incomplete, resulting in the ignorance on those who overlap two or more identities. So Intersectionality was intended to address the struggles and experience of “women of color” (Davis, 68). In the research of Crenshaw, she finds out in 2014 to 2016, there are five cases of male American African shot by the police which is broadcasted country-wide even worldwide so that most of the citizens are aware of the news. However, the news of female American African shot by the police is seldom reported to the public and attracts the attention of the public. The inequality that overlaps social identities are inestimable, which cannot be computed simply quick adding the influence of race plus that of gender. Diving deeper into the analysis and investigation in intersectionality, it increasingly focuses on multiple structures, such as gender, race, sexuality, class, etc., agreed in Intersectionality as a buzzword written by Kathy Davis and The complexity of intersectionality by Leslie McCall.

Mathematics, such as statistics and axis, doesn’t work in the study of intersectionality due to its intricacy, vagueness, and open-endedness. Initially, intersectionality overlaps social justice problems, offering the opportunity of attaching different identities to women (Davis, 72). Meanwhile, intersectionality not only addresses the concern of difference and diversity but also contains old feminist ideal of generating theories which targets the whole group of women in society. Furthermore, intersectionality was agreed over decades by different feminism ideologies. On the other hand, the open-endedness causes further investigation towards unsolved questions, such as “the lack of a clearly defined intersectional methodology, the use of black women as prototypical intersectional subjects, the ambiguity inherent to the definition of intersectionality, and the coherence between intersectionality and lived experiences of multiple identities. (Nash, 2)”



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