Intersectionalities at Work in Planning WAM!
- “Accessibility and diversity” are not accomplished merely by having wheel-chair access and visible minorities in attendance.
- Accessibility is about making sure no one gets left out. Diversity is about making sure that everyone is in.
- An accessible, diverse WAM! means that the entire experience we create– from our online presence to our conference workshops– is equitable, anti-oppressive, accessible and diverse.
- We apply an “intersectionalities lens” to any of the issues we plan to talk about in our workshops. An intersectionalities lens zooms out rather than zooming in.
- Intersectionalities: The name of a sociological theory that recognizes the big picture: that multiple social factors (race, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, class and more) intersect to create a complex web of oppressions.
- We want to zoom out and make sure we capture the entire web if we’re going to take a picture.
Intersectionalities in the Media
- Talking about women in the media is important work– but it comes with responsibilities. Here are some examples of problem scenarios:
Problem scenario: “The Female Experience”
“The Female Experience” is an example of a major generalization of womens’ experienes. In this conference, we need to treat the experiences of different women differently by addressing the way that multiple, intersecting social factors create different women identities.
A good example of an intersectional handling of the topic of “women” is Eve Ensler’s V-Day Campaign. She celebrates women, but makes sure that she does so in a way that raises awareness of gross inequalities amongst women’s safety and well being around the globe and within the Western world.
Problem scenario: “Asians”
When talking about racial communities in Vancouver, we need to be similarly prepared to zoom out and apply an intersectionalities lens. If talking about Chinese-Canadian women, for example, it is important not to confuse this group with “Asian” women in general, or women from other Asian countries. It is also important not to assume that a Chinese-Canadian is an immigrant. An example of an article that does all of these things (and more) wrong is an article in a recent Maclean’s article, by Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Kohler, that looked at whether or not Canadian universities were “too Asian.”
In general, it can be hard for people to write about a group that is potentially an “Other”, because a lack of understanding can cause them to make offensive mistakes or to stereotype. Part of being intersectional is doing justice to the complexities of society.
Problem scenario: “Portrayal of Women in the Media”
An intersectionalities-based analysis of the portrayal of women in the media would deal with how women in advertising look, but also integrate a discussion of racial selection, disability and ability, looksism, age, power, sexual scripts, gender scripts and so on. A strong intersectionalities-based analysis of women in the media deals with all of these considerations. To discuss the portrayal of women in the media is an example of a great opportunity to put intersectionalities to work.