Intersectionality: Your Place on the Social Ladder
White, Male, Christian and Rich? Life is Good for You.
There are many different social categorizations that make up an individual. Some examples of these categorizations are race, religion, class, gender, disability and sexuality. The theory of intersectionality is that these different social categorizations combine and overlap to determine an individuals social worth. This is important because often these categorizations combine to create a system of discrimination and disadvantage.
Because our country is mostly run by rich, white, Christian men, they are at the top of our societal social ladder. But what happens if someone on the top of the social ladder comes out as gay? Or becomes disabled mentally or physically? Or they discover they are a different gender? Or they decide they’re not Christian anymore? The result is they fall off the top of the social ladder. The more social categorizations that aren’t white, male, rich, and Christian the lower they fall on the ladder.
The Privilege of the Ruling Class
The people on the top of our social ladder enjoy all kinds of privilege. They get into elite colleges easier. They get approved for loans at much lower interest rates. The police don’t bother them much. They often live in high-end residential areas with fences to protect them and hired help to do their chores for them. They don’t experience any kind of tension when walking down the street. Businesses are happy to see them. They are given preferential treatment at restaurants. This white privilege list goes on and on.
Life is Harder When You’re Not on Top
But when you fall off the top of the ladder, or you’re simply not born there, life gets much harder. For example, a gay white man may not get such a warm welcome when walking into a business or restaurant. He may also experience some scowls and cross-looks as he walks down the street. If he is also disabled, he will experience more of this discrimination and disadvantage. More if he is poor. More if he’s not a Christian. Etc.
Life becomes very hard for people who are non-white in combination with other social categorizations like transgendered, female, poor, not Christian and disabled.
Try to imagine for a second a Muslim who is gay and disabled. How are they received when they walk down the street? How do businesses react to them? How would they be received in a white, conservative town like virtually anywhere in Louisiana or Texas?
I imagine that the oppression and disadvantage is overwhelming. I imagine that it’s very difficult to find and make friends or find pockets of peace within our society. Statistics back this up. The suicide rate for transgender individuals is higher than it’s ever been in history. As much as 40% of transgender people have reported attempting suicide.
Reclaim the Right to Live Free and Be Yourself
All of this is a huge problem. People have the right to be themselves and to live free of discrimination and disadvantage. Everyone should have an equal chance to get a loan, get into a good college, get good quality food and safe housing, eat peacefully at a restaurant, and walk down a street without sideways glances or overt discrimination.
All of these social categorizations have created barriers. These barriers separate and define us and it’s time to break them down. It starts by dismantling the elite white, male, rich, Christian ruling class. The more non-whites with other social categorizations that we can put into positions of political and economic power, the better.
Secondly, we have to dismantle the system that keeps the social ladder in place. To me, that means it’s time to move away from capitalism and toward shared resource communities. The more we can take care of ourselves, the less power the ruling class will have. If enough people become sustainable within their own communities, we will no longer need a ruling class at all.
The importance of the theory of intersectionality is that it defines a huge problem for our society. It’s time for us to band together and solve this problem once and for all.