ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: Intersectionality is the big lie on campus, worsening America's political divide
Campus leftists that champion intersectionality have succeeded in affecting social norms and values at the national level. As a result, the problematic divide between right and left is exaggerated.
"Academically Speaking" is a series by Campus Reform Managing Editor Zachary Marschall that, drawing on his firsthand experience working with other scholars across the globe, reveals how radical ideas originating in academia impact Americans’ daily lives.
Marschall holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and is an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky. His research investigates the intersections of democratic political systems, free market economies, and technological innovation in the production of national and cultural identities, as well as the exchange of cultural goods, services, and practices.
There is a theory that commonly informs woke first-year seminar courses, professors’ diversity statements, and the system of oppression found in Critical Race Theory (CRT), anti-racist, queer, and leftist political narratives. The theory is "intersectionality.”
But the concept is more than a fashionable term flaunted by academics on syllabi and at conferences. Rather, it is a framework that enables leftist scholars to gaslight ordinary Americans into accepting their false narratives.
But these scholars do not follow the intersectional lens that they preach. Their rhetoric around overlapping identities creates a patchwork of allusion and illusion that they couple with moral indignance to evade scrutiny.
For example, Campus Reform reported in August that the University of Southern California applied an intersectionality framework to create an equitable, “transformative justice” system for its campus safety efforts, aligned to “Defund the Police” talking points.
“Over the past 30 years, intersectionality has emerged as a key analytical framework for understanding how power dynamics affect people’s interactions with institutional systems like law enforcement,” the report stated.
Yet where is the outrage from intersectionality proponents for what Defund the Police hysteria has done to Americans’ daily lives?
The outrage comes from people living in the real world, not the ivory tower.
Last month, uber-liberal San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new crackdown on crime in the city.
Breed said that San Francisco would be “more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the bulls–t that has destroyed our city” in her announcement.
“Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference,” she also stated, as reported by the New York Post.
Academics using intersectionality to champion leftist agendas, such as Defund the Police, do not confront honestly the consequences of their nationwide indoctrination and gaslighting. Therefore, Breed remains an outlier among liberal municipal leaders in charge of crime-ridden cities who are too scared or too ideological to admit past errors.
Intersectionality does not solve problems. It is the problem.
What is the problem with intersectionality?
Intersectionality argues that people experience concurrent identities, which create overlapping sensations of privilege and oppression to an individual’s experience.
This dynamic creates debates about whether a straight, Black man has more privilege than a White lesbian. Privilege and oppression are not contests, but intersectionality does lend itself to thinking in those terms.
But if intersectional identities sound reasonable and straightforward, that is because they are. That is the key to the problem with intersectionality.
The understanding of intersectional identities predates CRT scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw naming the term “intersectionality” in 1989.
As an intellectual tradition, conservatism interprets the world and applies sound policies through an intersectional lens.
By balancing individual liberty with the role of the family, as well as the collective community, conservatism has always understood that a man can be at once a father, husband, congregant, volunteer, and friend.
Those concurrent roles are intersectional identities.
The world does not need radicals’ newfangled vocabulary to witness and comprehend the complexity of the individual within society.
But Crenshaw, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles and Columbia University, did coin the term “intersectionality” over 32 years ago.
There is a slight but significant difference between Crenshaw’s “intersectionality” and the concept of intersectional identities, and it lies with the grammar.
Whereas “intersectional” is an adjective that describes the complexity of a person’s singular identity, “intersectionality” presents itself as a noun that names a constructed way to see the world.
Intersectionality’s purpose to impact how others are seen lends itself to queer ideology, because the latter purports to replace convention with a transgressive world view based on intersecting identities.
Specifically, queerness, as a political agenda, seeks to dismantle the gender binary to break down traditional social norms and reorient human relations in a revolutionary manner.
Accordingly, intersectionality, in its self-professed virtuous complexity, claims to dismantle binaries – White and Black or man and woman – to reveal the true nature of human relations.
And that is where the problem manifests. That supposed purpose is the lie.
Intersectionality is not about justice or truth. It is about power.
Intersectionality on campus
Higher education initiatives, programming, and conversations that invoke intersectionality regroup individuals into binary categories that serve the social justice warrior crusade.
Academic terminology reveals this predicament.
Campus leftists use the acronym BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, People of Color – to classify individuals who are not White. The results are BIPOC-only education programs, programming that excludes White participants, and job announcements specifying racial preference, all in the name of progress and intersectional diversity.
White and non-White is a binary. But that doesn’t matter to leftist academics when the beneficiaries are the right people.
The same pattern holds for queerness.
There is no official acronym for people who are not heterosexual. The longest iteration of LGBT that Campus Reform could find on American college campuses is LGBTQQIAAP+, which the University of Florida currently employs.
This mouthful stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, Asexual, and Pansexual.
There is the even longer 2SLGBTQQIA+ that includes the “two-spirit” identity, “referring to someone who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit,” according to the New York Post, as well as the plus-sign for those miscellaneous individuals apparently not worthy of a letter. Think “and the rest” from Gilligan Island’s theme song.
The latter acronym, however, appears more popular in Canada and the United Kingdom.
These acronyms reveal a heterosexual and non-heterosexual dynamic servicing queer ideologues, but the practical implications are more damaging than that.
As this series previously explored, the culture of queer politics makes sexual identity the totality of the human experience and ostracizes gay men who do not subscribe to leftist narratives on privilege, colonialism, and capitalism.
To be queer is to be oppressed and resistant to White patriarchy, according to the queer and non-queer binary.
Rather than embracing how gender and sexual orientation overlap, the queer binary employs political litmus tests to determine if someone’s identity is authentically non-heteronormative.
The false queer binary is particularly destructive because by shaming heterosexuals and connecting homosexual attraction to political ideology, queer politics undermines its fundamental argument that transgender and gay people are born the way they are.
The queer iteration of intersectionality does not reveal the complexity of human nature but reduces it to a political movement with sinister aims.
How intersectionality in academia impacts daily life
Campus liberals and leftists that champion intersectionality have succeeded in affecting social norms and values at the national level. As a result, American political culture is victim to the corrosive false binaries that exacerbate the problematic divide between right and left.
The problem with that divide is evident in President Biden’s poll numbers and Democrats’ delusional reaction to them.
Despite Democrats’ rhetoric that Republicans are the party of racist, anti-Mexican Donald Trump, Biden is performing worse among Hispanic and Latino Americans than White Americans.
According to a Jan. 12 Quinnipiac poll, Biden has a national 33% approval rating and a 53% disapproval rating.
That same poll also shows that 32% of White adults approve of Biden’s performance, but only 28% of Hispanic adults hold the same opinion. Biden’s disapproval rating among those demographic groups is 57% and 51%, respectively.
According to the Dec. 20 Marist poll, 40% of White adult Americans approve of the president and 56% disapprove. That number is nearly in line with Biden’s national 41% approval and 55% disapproval rating at the time.
In that poll, only 33% of adult Latino Americans approve of Biden while a significantly higher 65% disapprove.
These numbers indicate if not prove that today’s liberal elites, for all their talk of intersectionality, do not see people for who they are as fully rounded adults.
In the case of America’s Latino and Hispanic population, those Americans are more complex Democratic border rhetoric allows.
Like many of their fellow Americans, Latinos and Hispanics can also be religious and have strong values that center on the family unit as defined by the traditional concept of gender.
Legal immigrants understand what they gained within the confines of American law and want to uphold the order and norms that granted them a better life.
Liberals’ one-note emphasis on open borders and the assumption that racial minorities share identical social values of affluent Whites living in distant suburbs explain the disparity in Biden’s poll numbers.
It should not be surprising, then, that Tucker Carlson reported on Jan. 8 that at 84%, National Public Radio (NPR) has a higher share of White listeners than Fox News does viewers.
It is those NPR listeners –echo-chamber liberals– that insist through media, social media, and academia that there must be something wrong with minorities who support conservatives because, in their false binaries, skin color determines political preference.
Last week, for example, Winsome Earle-Sears became the first African American female to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. MSNBC host Joy Reid called Earle-Sears a "Black mouth" for "White supremacist practices” two days after the politician’s victory.
No, she is not. Earle-Sears is an accomplished individual who has full agency over her beliefs and actions.
Suggesting to the contrary reduces people to binaries that do not explain the difference between them, such as man and woman, but penalize individuality.
Biden’s dismal poll numbers and Sears’ achievement reveal that Americans with complex identities and thought patterns do not need intersectionality gurus to think for themselves.