Intersectionality

intersectionality

Intersectionality. n.(neologism) The concept that all forms of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc.) are connected ideas and therefore, must be studied as such.

Etymology: The term “intersectionality theory” was first coined in an essay by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. In her work she specifically discussed the idea of “black feminism.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “intersectional” means pertaining to or characterized by intersection. “Intersection” comes from the Latin word “intersectiōn-em.” The ending “ity” is a Latin suffix which expresses state or condition.

Sociolectal Information: The word “intersectionality” can be viewed as sociological term for the way we should process discrimination.It also is a term related to the humanities because the word has also crossed language barriers. It can be translated in Spanish to “interseccionalidad.” Although this word was created in 1989 , it is still not well-recognized. It exists mostly in an academic forum, but is becoming more popular as a colloquial term.  “Intersectionality” mostly is used in the gender studies field or in certain online communities such as tumblr. The word was not used much after Crenshaw’s original use in her essay, but it has become more common in recent years including a mention in the New Yorker in 2013, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Survival Predictions: I could see this word gaining popularity as people have recently become more conscientious of forms of discrimination. The word is fairly easy to pronounce. However, not many people are aware of its meaning. It is difficult to use because it is difficult to understand. In order for it to survive more people would have to be familiar with its exact meaning.

Lexopinion: The word itself sounds similar to the more common word “intersection” even though the two terms have different meanings. The similarity in pronunciation and spelling may lead to confusion. One person I spoke to about the word initially thought that its definition was related solely to  gender discrimination because the middle of the word “sect” sounds like “sex.” The pronunciation of the word may give false clues about the definition. 

Comments

  1. eratliff says:

    This is a great example of a word that’s gaining/regaining popularity quickly. I’ve definitely heard it used in niche communities and classroom settings, although I hope it will spread to the general public as the concept is very important to the discourse on feminism, which is becoming a major social debate.I like your lexopinion–it hadn’t occurred to me before, but I can definitely see now how the sound of the word could be misleading. One thing that might be interesting to know more about is what kinds of communities specifically use this word–for example, it’s a big topic in Gender Studies classes, but also in the world of online communities (“tumblr feminism”). Just the fact that two very different communities use the word frequently without it entering the mainstream is interesting to think about. I also liked your etymology; you did a great job of connecting the literal meanings of the components of the word to its meaning now, which is more metaphorical. Great entry overall!

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