bell hooks’ notion of intersectionality is not only a complete failure, it actually functions completely opposite the way she intended it; it revolutionizes capitalism, reproducing capitalist relations directly into the political sphere.
what is derisively referred to as “identity politics” (using this term because i really dont know what else to call it, maybe “the postmodernist social justice movement”?) is a perfect example. inersectionality is the answer to a contradiction of postmodernism: there is effectively no “objective” reality because all we have access to are a multitude of subjective perspectives. how can we have social justice, how can we fight oppression as a vast multitude of individual subjectivities without a single “objectively” correct universal to unite us?
So again intersectionality is the answer to this problem. It displaces the contradiction to a discursive process of discourse – I’ll explain. Kyriarchy is a field of different oppressions, all interwoven (connected) with each other through intersectionality. In this way, someone can simultaneously be in the role of both the oppressor and the oppressed; furthermore, this is also true within the same field of oppression as in, for example, patriarchy, where a woman can be both the target of misogyny and also a misogynist herself (by internalizing patriarchy).
The genius of this move is that it frees us of the oppressive “objectivity” of dominant discourse (for example, men are “objectively” gay – which is a bad thing, of course – if they don’t adhere to certain behavioral norms). In place of this objectivity, we instead have subjective interpretations – but that’s not all. At this level, we can quickly discern a reemergence of “objectivity”, for example in cases of bi erasure: gay and lesbian people saying a bisexual couple, a man and a woman, are “really just straight” because they aren’t acting gay enough – or, to put it in jargon, even though they are (or claim to be) bisexual, they nonetheless benefit from straight privilege.
It’s here, though, that the true brilliance of intersectionality enters: not only is (the pretense of) objectivity supplanted by subjectivity – in a final move, this subjectivity itself is made to be reflexive and discursively performative. What this means is that in place of objective (social) truth, we have a subjective perspective on what is perceived as truth that is aware of its limitation (that it is only an interpretation, not “objectively” correct), and which is simultaneously a process of collective enactment – the social justice movement is nothing but the endlessly-changing, ongoing (“performative”) process of the self-identifications of each individual (individual people and individual communities) within it discursively distributed into a social network. This is why “the personal is political”: your self-identification is a performative process that doesn’t happen in isolation, it’s inherently political; if you are able, you need to call out oppression when you see, it fight against it – in the fight against kyriarchy, pain is inevitable and the most marginalized are the most vulnerable, so if at all possible we should all raise our voice against it to do our part for the benefit of others, especially in cases of intersectionality.
As I said, this is brilliant. Why should we accept it, though? The end result of this (I hate using the word like this, but it fits) paradigm of intersectionality is a continuous struggle of self-overcoming: the way to overcome oppression is through struggle (the more liberal-oriented of course restrict “conflict” to mean debate, petitions, protests, votes, etc), and this holds true for internal conflicts as well. How, then, do we decide among ourselves if something one of us said is oppressive in some way? Through debate – discussion, sometimes, if possible, but ultimately the option of debate (or argument; or even physical violence in leftist groups) has to be left open, because someone with good intentions who doesn’t feel outright argument is warranted can still think and say horribly oppressive things. This brings us to the question of outliers: what if you or you and your community, disagree with what is currently the predominant ideology of the social justice movement (for example, me in disagreement with the overwhelming majority of liberal privilege-checkers on tumblr)? The answer is conflict, which could result in simple disagreement and the decision “to each their own”, or it could just as easily turn into a nasty, bitter conflict, as happens sometimes on tumblr and twitter, with thousands of people dropping by to leave you with insults (as a rule, including some formulation of the word “privileged”). This form of conflict is characteristic of the performative, discursive ideology of the social justice movement: the predominant ideology is not a consensus, but the moment-to-moment, “organic” result of the inner conflicts of its individual members (individual people and individual social groups).
What else can we think of that is performatively-discursively constituted, which requires constant, indefinite self-revolutionizing to sustain itself, necessarily leading to vicious boom/bust cycles resulting in social unrest? It looks like capitalism, and acts like capitalism, but this shouldn’t fool us: it really is capitalism! (…or rather, the direct [re]production of capitalist social relations in the political domain [as opposed to the economic].)
ps don’t use “dumb”, it’s a slur.
also bell hooks thinks having a vagina magically turns someone into a woman. lol