According to Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is a framework that seeks to describe some of the various interlocking systems of power that affect the marginalized within the society. In her study, she identifies some of the social stratifications like race, disabilities, social class, gender, and sexual orientation to be the main factors that drive marginalization today. Being a feminist, she uses the term intersectionality to explain various discriminative aspects of the women of color. In order to understand marginalization and discrimination against women, there is need to look at the intersection of certain aspects of racism and sexism. With a more focus on social stratifications, people will be able to understand effects of discrimination against women.
Kimberlé Crenshaw seeks to make people understand that having a general knowledge of the effects of social ills against women like sexual violence and street harassment does not work to confront the problem at hand. Intersectionality seeks to go deeper towards dissecting the various racial, class and gender issues that contribute to the ills. According to this concept, discrimination against women can never be the same for different races or classes of people. For instance, women of color are more prone to harassment than white women. At the same time, women with the privilege of wealth are likely to get state privilege and protection than those with lower social class. Above are some of the components of social stratification that define intersectionality in feminism. Without intersectionality, most of the discriminative cases would lack true identity and the causes.
Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy are some of the case studies that indicate intersectionality. These three women live at a time when slavery is at the peak in the American history. They are slaves who work for white farmers at the time, but their lives take the wrong turn when they develop fistula conditions. It seems that the three women are just a sample of the many black women who served as experimental tools in the health sector. It comes out that Dr. Sims uses the black women as guinea pigs towards coming up with a cure for fistula. For instance, Anarcha undergoes numerous surgeries, after her master agrees with the doctor to keep her for experiments. In fact, the fistula condition arise from the doctor’s surgical inexperience; using a tool he has knowledge of, leading to the lack of control of the urinary system. The women have no choice but to yield to the pressure of being used for experiments, with surgeries done without the use of anesthesia.
On the contrary, Dr. Sims treats the white women differently, unlike Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy, the black slaves. The white women occupy the place of privilege and the doctor understands this. When the white women experience abdominal problems, the doctor does a respectable form of examination, something that does not happen with the black slaves. To the white women, he does not attempt medical procedures he does not understand. To the slave women, he orders them to kneel on their fours in order to conduct medical surgeries without anesthesia, leading to more infections and pain.
Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy’s case shows discrimination against women, fronted by slavery, race and social class. The intersectionality of the above contribute to the better understanding of what the slave women underwent at the time. The slaves were at the mercies of the owners and could be given out for experiments without due care, leading to suffering and deaths. It comes out that Dr. Sims later opened a women’s hospital in New York to treat white women after getting a breakthrough from years of painful experiments on black women.