Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color

Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color Glossary

Ally

Someone who supports an identity politics movement without being a member of that identity. For instance, straight people who support the rights of gay and lesbian people can be called “allies” of the LGBT movement.

Center

Used as a verb, “center” means to place in the middle of an analysis and in the leadership of a movement. Centering women of color means making their voices the impetus for social change.

Essentialism

A view that identities have an intrinsic nature that makes all of their members the same.

Identity Politics

A social movement organized by and for members of a particular identity, such as feminism (by and for women) and antiracism (by and for people of color).

Intersectionality

The ways in which multiple identities combine and influence each other in individuals or groups of people who are marginalized in more than one way. For instance, intersectionality considers how gender and race intersect for women of color.

Lobby

A group of people who work to influence legislative or governmental policy. For instance, Crenshaw discusses the “domestic violence lobby,” which seeks to make the government more responsive to the issue of domestic violence.

Marginalization

This can have two meanings: (1) disadvantaging a group of people and (2) pushing outside of social analysis. For instance, women of color are both (1) marginalized in society because they do not have the advantages of being white and male; and (2) marginalized by feminism and antiracism, because their voices are not prioritized or heard in these social movements.

Politicization

The process of showing how something that may have seemed to be a private issue is actually an issue worthy of political attention, including governmental intervention. For instance, feminists politicized rape.

Rhetoric

A way of talking about things; a style of argument intended to persuade or influence. For instance, Crenshaw will discuss “racist rhetoric,” referring to the words people use to dehumanize Black people, such as calling them savages or animals.

Selectivity

Refers to looking at only a small number of things instead of the big picture, usually as a result of political bias. For instance, there was media selectivity in focusing on the Central Park jogger case, in which a white woman seemed to have been raped by men of color, instead of the many more cases in New York that night in which the victim was a woman of color. This selectivity perpetuates a belief that rape is primarily a crime committed against white victims, by Black perpetrators.

Sexualization

The process of making something sexual or casting someone as overly sexual. American culture, according to Crenshaw, has sexualized Black women, so that many Americans think Black women are hypersexual. This reduces sympathy people have for Black women who are raped.

Shelter

A development of the feminist movement, shelters are safe places providing temporary housing to women escaping domestic violence.

Social constructionism

The view that social categories like “woman” and “Black” are not natural but are created by cultures through representations, language, and shared assumptions.

Tokenistic

The practice of arbitrarily including a member of a minority group in order to appear diverse and representative. Crenshaw talks about how documentaries about domestic violence “tokenize” Black women by including one and only one Black woman in a cast of many more white women.

Violence against women

An umbrella term describing violence that disproportionately affects women or is committed on the basis of gender. Crenshaw focuses on two types of violence against women: domestic violence (also called battering) and rape.