Intersectionality recognizes how different systems of power and oppression work together to mediate an individual’s lived experiences. They are interconnected and cannot be examined in isolation.
What is Intersectionality?
Intersectionality is a theory that emerged from Black feminist legal scholarship. It recognizes how different systems of power and oppression work together to mediate an individual’s lived experiences. These systems include racism, classism, cis-sexism, homophobia, ableism and xenophobia, among others. They are interconnected and cannot be examined in isolation. Similarly, different aspects of an individual’s identity interact to influence their navigation, opportunities and treatment within society.
An Intersectional Approach to Sexual Assault and Harassment
Sexual assault and harassment affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and abilities. An intersectional approach to sexual assault and harassment recognizes that the different aspects of an individual’s identity act simultaneously to shape their experience of sexual assault or harassment. A survivor’s position within society also impacts how other people will interpret and respond to a disclosure, and their ability to access support. Furthermore, an intersectional approach recognizes that individuals who belong to certain marginalized identities and communities are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and harassment. Individuals of different identities and experiences may require different forms of support and accommodations. Survivors have a right to access support of their choosing, including support tailored to their particular identities. For more information on the available resources, visit the Support Resources page.
When receiving a disclosure, it is important to acknowledge how intersecting identities and systems of oppression may impact a survivor’s experience, as well as the societal interpretation and response to an occurrence of sexual assault and harassment. It is also important to recognize how your own position influences your capacity to respond to a disclosure.