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

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

  1. 1

    Define identity politics.

    Identity politics are political positions based on social categories including race, gender, and sexuality. Movements associated with identity politics tend to be organized by and for members of a particular category, or identity. For instance, feminism organizes around the identity of women and antiracism organizes around the identities of people of color.

  2. 2

    Define intersectionality.

    Intersectionality is an analysis of how different identities interact or intersect to create a new experience. For instance, women of color are an intersection of the identities of women and nonwhite people. Understanding their experiences requires looking not just at race or gender, but at both.

  3. 3

    What is the relation between feminism and antiracism?

    Feminism and antiracism are both examples of what Crenshaw calls identity politics. Feminism mobilizes for the rights of women and antiracism mobilizes for the rights of people of color. Both movements tend to marginalize the experiences of women of color. In doing so, they not only hurt women of color but may end up hurting one another. Feminism, ignoring race, can sometimes reproduce racism. Antiracism, ignoring gender, can sometimes reproduce misogyny.

  4. 4

    In what context does Crenshaw discuss the Central Park jogger case?

    The Central Park jogger was a white woman who was brutally raped, allegedly by a group of teenagers of color, in 1989. The case received sensational and widespread media coverage, even though there were other, equally violent rapes that night. Crenshaw says this is because the other cases, in which the victim was a woman of color, did not tap into dominant narratives of rape in America, which tend to focus on white victims. The Central Park jogger was often discussed with an absence of intersectionality.

  5. 5

    Describe George Will’s stance on the 2 Live Crew controversy.

    George Will argues that 2 Live Crew should be prosecuted for their crude and misogynistic lyrics because they promote violence against women. He thinks there is a direct connection between such rap lyrics and the Central Park jogger case. This is because the alleged rapists in the Central Park case are the target audience for the lyrics of 2 Live Crew. Crenshaw thinks that in making this connection, Will demonstrates he is less interested in protecting women from violence and more interested in criminalizing Black men for their sexuality.

  6. 6

    Describe Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s stance on the 2 Live Crew controversy.

    In contrast to Will, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. came to the defense of 2 Live Crew. He said their lyrics were intentionally outrageous in order to poke fun at how outrageous American society’s conceptions of Black men are. American society exaggerates Black male violence and sexuality, and the lyrics were meant to parody this exaggeration by taking it to another level. Crenshaw thinks this account lets Black men off the hook too easily for misogyny. Black women shouldn’t have to put up with misogyny in the interests of Black men.

  7. 7

    Discuss the role of “coalition” in Crenshaw’s thought.

    Coalition is Crenshaw’s preferred way for thinking about identity in the conclusion of “Mapping the Margins.” Looking at identity as a coalition means looking at how a single category is already diverse and internally different. The category of people of color already has Black men and Black women. The category of women already has white women and nonwhite women. Seeing these groups as coalitions allows us to embrace the diversity within a category and focus on political goals rather than an identity’s “essence.”