Demand an Intersectional Lens to Our WorkIntersectionality will not only enhance services for survivors, but also requires an understanding that solutions to gender-based violence must be multifaceted and address a variety of social problems that intersect with violence.
Demand an Intersectional Lens to Our Work
When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, she described “the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination ‘intersect’ to create unique dynamics and effects”. Intersectionality challenges us to broaden our focus beyond just domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA), to understand the layers of oppression that survivors experience. If we account for only one aspect of identity – such as sex or gender – to inform how a survivor is offered support, we fail to comprehensively address the violence. We also fail to understand the survivor’s experience as it relates to their entire self.
Intersectionality necessitates a recognition of root causes of violence. When using the term root causes in this work, we indicate how forces of sexism, racism, classism, colonialism and other forms of oppression are the foundations for allowing a social construction and perpetuation of gender-based violence. Attempting to end DV and SA without addressing root causes is analogous to trying to heal a deep, severe wound with a band-aid: we may be able to stop some bleeding, but ultimately the band-aid is not the solution.
We must demand intersectionality with all individuals and programs advocating on behalf of survivors, and as we interact with legal, governmental, economic, and educational systems.
For our efforts to truly serve all survivors, we must demand intersectionality internally – that is, within all individuals and programs advocating on behalf of survivors. Our demand for intersectionality must also be applied externally, as we interact with legal, governmental, economic, and educational systems which historically have harmed BIPOC communities. Intersectionality will not only enhance services for survivors, but also requires an understanding that solutions to gender-based violence must be multifaceted and address a variety of social problems that intersect with violence.
Applying an intersectional lens to our work
- Allows all aspects of survivors’ identities to be considered when addressing their experiences
- Accounts for ways advocates may experience oppression in their programs and communities while providing services to survivors
- Enables advocates to identify and address barriers from oppressive systems that impact survivor’s daily realities
- Paves the way for a holistic approach to addressing violence that centers the autonomy of survivors to make decisions about their path to justice and healing
- Focuses prevention efforts on root causes of violence by addressing oppression
- Broadens policy advocacy to all areas that intersect with violence and impact survivors