The Matrix of Oppression


There are many forms of oppression in our society. People can be discriminated against based on not only their race, gender, sexuality, class, etc. but by any combination of these qualities. The combination of oppressions and the issues relevant across these groups is known as intersectionality. After searching tumblr for “intersectionality,” I went down a long rabbit-hole of enlightening and intriguing posts and now, I offer some real-life examples from what I found.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

#1- Violence Against Native American Women:  This article explains how the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act will help prevent and prosecute crimes against Native women. Native American women experience intersectional oppressions through their identities as both a racial minority and as females. According to the article, around eighty percent of native women who are raped reported their rapist as being “non-Indian men.” This was problematic because tribal courts were not allowed to prosecute anyone who was not a member of the tribe so rapists and domestic abusers who fell out of this jurisdiction could often times get away with their crimes. Luckily, according to the article, the changes being made will potentially put more power in the hands of the tribal courts. (Article originally seen on this awesome tumblr.)

#2- Trans Women of Color: Gender and Race are two of the major intersections of oppression; but trans women experience these dual oppressions in unique ways. This past week Janet Mock, a trans woman of color who writes, speaks, and advocates on behalf of the trans community, released a book about her life and her journey. Piers Morgan’s treatment of Mock on his show caused controversy and resulted in Twitter supporters calling him everything from “ignorant” to “transphobic.” Basically, Morgan repeatedly referred to Mock as a “former man” and focused on genital and surgery related issues; these actions are inappropriate, unnecessarily sexualize the conversation and focuses the discussion on an issue which does not define a trans woman’s identity. A post reblogged by Mock herself points out that living life as a trans woman means “sacrific(ing your) most helpful lifeline to success: family and male privilege.” (This example was initially sparked by this reblog of Mock’s second interview on Piers Morgan when she explained why he was receiving the backlash that he was.)

Black entrepreneurs Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin.

#3 Black Women Entrepreneurs: A third example of intersectionality is within the business word. This article discusses the story of one pair of black female entrepreneurs, their roadblocks, and their success. A black woman attempting to break into the tech industry will face discrimination based on gender, race, class, educational level, and more. The article cites data which showed in the first half of 2010 that only 8% of start-ups were founded by women and only 1% by black business people (male or female). Clearly, the cause of these low numbers is rooted in intersectional issues facing entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds. (Article originally brought to my attention by this tumblr)