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

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

Women of Color

A woman of color is a person who has access to neither male privilege nor white privilege. Male privilege refers to the advantages men have in society because they are men, including the social value society places on maleness and the tendency for workplaces to pay men more for their work. White privilege refers to the advantages white people have because they are white, including having wider cultural representation—more white characters on television, for instance—and historically better access to educational institutions and economic opportunity. Women of color have neither of these privileges and are therefore doubly marginalized in society. Unfortunately, they are also marginalized by the major social movements that seek to deconstruct white and male privilege, including feminism and antiracism. Their voices are rarely centered in social analysis.


Feminists are members of a social movement for gender equality in society, including increasing the opportunities for women to find economic and sexual fulfillment. Its movement has succeeded in part by politicizing the issues women face in their daily lives. For instance, instead of viewing rape as a private tragedy that happens to an individual woman, feminists show how rape is part of a larger culture that prioritizes men and objectifies women. Focusing primarily on gender, they also, in Crenshaw’s account, tend to ignore other factors impacting a person’s life, including race and class. Feminism, as a form of identity politics, does not offer intersectional accounts of how, for instance, race and gender interact in the experience of women of color. Crenshaw invites feminists to add depth to their analysis and political goals by considering these kinds of intersections.


Antiracists are member of a social movement against racism in society, including the ways in which racism organizes opportunities people have for employment, freedom of association, and freedom from police brutality. Crenshaw uses the term antiracism to refer to a wide range of movements what have developed through and after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She especially focuses on efforts in the Black community to protect and empower their community. In Crenshaw’s understanding, however, the image of the Black community advanced by these antiracists tends to prioritize Black men. It is Black men who are seen as needing increased economic and educational opportunities and freedom from damaging stereotypes of being violent and criminal. The ways in which race specifically shapes the experience of Black women is often left out of this analysis. Crenshaw calls on antiracists to develop intersectional analyses that can see how the experiences of Black women also need to be addressed by social movements.