An intersectional approach is one of the most striking and exciting modern approaches to problems of power, violence, and discrimination. The theory of intersectionality proceeds from the assumption that various biological, social, and cultural categories, such as gender, race, class, health status, sexual orientation, caste, and other identities, interact with each other at many levels, and explores these interactions (Collins, 2016).
Supporters of the theory of intersectionality argue that classic representations of oppression in society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, do not act independently of each other. They interact with each other, forming a system of oppression in which there are many types of discrimination. Thus, the focus of the intersectional approach is on the structural manifestations of discrimination.
So, for example, among non-white women, the percentage of unemployed, uneducated and poor, deprived of any social protection and material support is much higher than among whites. The probability of encountering discrimination in hiring them is much higher for them because they are not just women, but also non-white. Moreover, non-white women, immediately referring to two discriminated groups, experience each of these types of discrimination in a fundamentally different way.
Thus, the essence of the intersectional approach is to discover how racial, class, and gender issues intersect in society, and how they, when interacting, form a systematic and multi-level inequality. It is noteworthy that intersectionality is an approach, not a theory, and therefore can be applied in different ways in different opinions. The intersectional approach is one of the most exciting and vivid in modern social theory.
Even though employers cannot legally discriminate against their employees, in society, there still exist such types of infringement as racism, sexism, and homophobia. In the workplace, you can often encounter a kind of obstacle that prevents you from moving up the career ladder, if you belong to any of the discriminated categories. This phenomenon is called “the glass ceiling — an invisible barrier that seems to continue to protect the positions at the upper echelons of the workplace for men, and often, straight white men” (Chapter review, p.5). In the proposed scenario, all employees belong to infringed groups.
So Shirley is a white woman who feels unsafe and exposed to sexism and condemnation, as there are only a few women in the company. Robert is African-American, and Henry is Hispanic, and they feel discrimination because of their nationality and low salaries. Even though Allen could belong to the most privileged group – he is a white man, he is gay and also faces homophobia. In this situation, Robert and Henry discuss indecent, sexist photographs of women, thereby discriminating against all women, including Shirley.
Pornography and the dissemination of obscene material is one way of discrimination and violence against women when distributing such materials, and the woman represented on them may lose her social status and be humiliated in front of acquaintances. In this situation, Robert and Henry are clearly wrong, but Shirley also did not have the right to eavesdrop on personal conversations, so the point of view of men is also valid.
In this situation, sexism was not aimed at discriminating against women in the work plan, and unfortunately, this is a more ethical issue. A reasonable solution in the situation presented will be a meeting at which the claims of all parties will be considered. First of all, Shirley will be able to explain what actions exactly of her male colleagues make her feel unsafe. Secondly, you can advise Robert and Henry to remove those photos from their phones and prohibit offensive discussions in the office, and this proposal should be considered by all parties, as it may violate personal boundaries. Thirdly, if there is a decrease in salaries for men due to their race, then payments should be recounted, taking into account their professional qualifications.
Fourth, employees can set up a club to protect women and sexual minorities at work and help like-minded people to deal with discrimination together (Yang, n. d.). And finally, in the event of a possible aggressive reaction from Henry and Robert, dismissal as an extreme method may be proposed.
Therefore, the measures that are taken by the company must take into account the interests of all parties. The attitude of workers towards each other should be based primarily on professional and personal qualities, and not on belonging to any category. In many countries, governments create specialized organizations to ensure equal rights. They either have the status of advisory as they collect, publish and disseminate information, analyze legislation and policies in the field of gender equality, as well as provide advice on these issues and provide training. Organizations can also have the right to consider applications with complaints of discrimination, and take action by involving government agencies. The presented companies can help to publicize the problem and give all workers equal conditions in the workspace.
Collins, P. H., & Bilge, S. (2016). Intersectionality. John Wiley & Sons.
Yang, N. How to fight sexism in the workplace?. Web.
Workplace identities, interactions, and inequalities. (2020). In Economy and work (pp. 5–6).