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Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week we’re talking about intersectionality. Need a primer? Catch up here.

Intersectionality: Kimberlé Crenshaw explained why she coined the phrase three decades ago and why the concept is still a crucial aspect in the aspect of fighting discrimination. Lauren Sudeall Lucas expanded on that notion, explaining why the Equal Protection Clause does not protect everyone equally in discrimination suits. Brittney Cooper and Jamil Smith argued that both the Black Lives Matter movement and modern masculinity could benefit from new ways of thinking about identity, while Latoya Peterson argued that intersectionality has wrongly evolved to become a label rather than a call for action. Finally, The Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg offered her thoughts on how today’s media can be a tool to make intersectionality more concrete.

You, the readers, responded — taking to the comments section and social media to discuss the idea.

On the primer, Quidnunc2 warned that intersectionality could be used to tear down instead of heal:

Intersectionality is an important and useful concept if we use it to honestly evaluate both the past and present: for example, the ways in which dominant voices in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist movement have at times marginalized Black women and the LGBT community.

[…] intersectionality will be deeply destructive to the progressive cause if it’s used to harp and crow about those faults, instead of working to heal the rifts. […]

Case in point: Right now women in this country — of whatever race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation — need to come together and speak with one voice against the radical assault on their right to full health care and reproductive rights. Yes, there are serious divisions within broadly-defined “Feminism.” Yes, they need to be addressed. But while we’re busy sniping at each other, we may just wake up one day and find ourselves in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

In response to “Black Lives Matter — all of themMace8704 worried about the movement’s focus:

One genuine concern I have for the BlackLivesMatter Movement is that it’s losing focus. Initially, it appeared to be focused on concealed handgun licenses, castle doctrine, and how the police handle noncompliance with minorities. Now. […] the author is focused on utilizing gender neutral terms and creating gender neutral bathrooms. That’s fine and all, but the movement has probably already bitten off more than it could chew with advocating for lethal force policy reform alone. Does the BlackLivesMatter movement really have the manpower to focus on intersectional feminism, introducing gender-neutral terminology, creating gender neutral bathrooms, concealed handgun licenses, castle doctrine, lethal force reform, gentrification, drug reform, etc. The movement is spreading itself very, very thin.

In response to “Why we need a new masculinity,” abrooklynite suggested that America’s encouragement of anger and aggression contributed to its current unhealthy state:

The problem with masculinity as practiced in America is not really as complex as this article suggests (which really is more about understanding other people’s perspectives, not remaining ignorant of your own privilege etc., and goes off the rails fairly early). The problem is that the only emotion that men are encouraged to express is anger, which isn’t recognized as an emotion the way women are chastised for being too emotional. How many people have you heard say “God, you are being so angry or confrontational!”

I have also noticed that we American men seem to revel in having other people think we are funny, but equate being offensive with humor, punching down instead of using wit to point out the ridiculous in an inclusive way. Again, anger and aggression being the only acceptable forms of expression and emotion for a man.

Commenter ChelleG pointed out a live example of “poisoned masculinity”:

If we need any proof of how fragile masculinity truly is, the comment section of any article of this sort is all you need. It will inevitably be flooded with delicate flowers bemoaning how men are the truly oppressed in our society and accusing any man who dares suggest otherwise of being a “beta white knight.”

Much of the conversation took place on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.

One reader suggested a new key principle for effective feminism, in response to “Intersectionality is not a label.“:


Someone else pointed out that intersectionality is more than a political idea:

Another was irked by the general profusion of “terms,” and their inevitable migration to the bourgeoisie:

Finally, one of history’s greatest thinkers* weighs in:

*Yes, we know.

We hope you find the help you seek.

More to say?  Your e-mails, tweets and comments are extremely welcome. We’re reading them! Take part in the conversation.