Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. The term was coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989.: 385 Intersectionality identifies multiple factors of advantage and disadvantage. Examples of these factors include gender, caste, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, and height. These intersecting and overlapping social identities may be both empowering and oppressing.
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Intersectionality broadens the lens of the first and second waves of feminism, which largely focused on the experiences of women who were both white and middle-class, to include the different experiences of women of color, women who are poor, immigrant women, and other groups. Intersectional feminism aims to separate itself from white feminism by acknowledging women's different experiences and identities.
Intersectionality is a qualitative analytic framework developed in the late 20th century that identifies how interlocking systems of power affect those who are most marginalized in society.[page range too broad] Activists use the framework to promote social and political egalitarianism. Intersectionality opposes analytical systems that treat each axis of oppression in isolation, as if discrimination against black women could be explained as simply misogyny or simply racism. For example, Crenshaw has pointed to the 1976 case DeGraffenreid v. General Motors, in which the plaintiffs alleged hiring practices that specifically discriminated against black women and that could not be described as either racial discrimination or sex discrimination alone.: 141–143 Intersectionality engages in similar themes as triple oppression, which is the oppression associated with being a poor and/or immigrant woman of color. Intersectional analysis aligns very closely with anarcha-feminist power analysis frameworks.
Criticism includes the framework's tendency to reduce individuals to specific demographic factors, and its use as an ideological tool against other feminist theories. Critics have characterized the framework as ambiguous and lacking defined goals. As it is based in standpoint theory, critics say the focus on subjective experiences can lead to contradictions and the inability to identify common causes of oppression.