I first read the term “intersectional” years ago as child. It appeared in one of my aunt’s feminist books. I cannot recall which one, but I do recall the explanation given in the text. According to the text, white female feminists had ignored the plight of black and other minority women. White women rallied around middle and upper class issues that affected them, completely missing the experiences of the typically lower class minority women. The focus of feminist discussions, according to the explanation, also revolved around white women’s plight. The issues that affected minority women were rarely, if ever, discussed or addressed.
This in essence made minority women, black women in particular, doubly oppressed. They were oppressed by their sex and their race, whereas white women were only oppressed by their sex. There was an additional oppression within the feminist movement as well. White women basked in the privilege of being the majority, dominate voice in the movement while minority women remained silenced.
Modern intersectional feminism supposedly addresses this oppression, but it really worsens the divide between the groups as the focus becomes more about who has it worse than solving any problems. It leads to concepts like safe spaces, the progress stack, and an ironic amount of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry against the so-called “oppressors”. Rather than bringing people together, it leads to more conflict. Once the “oppressors” are drummed out or silenced, these intersectional feminists tend to turn on each other, arguing over the most benign, superficial differences.
Christina Hoff Sommers offered a breakdown of the intersectional theory and why it is so (ironically) problematic: