Intersectionality and the Women’s March: A Thought

Just a little while ago, I posted online a question about people’s feelings around the Women’s March (in light of the sort-of-apology the group issued for its inclusion of antisemitic and homophobic leaders as allies, among other ‘mistakes’ the group has made). The many responses it provoked prompted the following thought-in-process.

Intersectionality is at least double-edged. As it attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those most marginalized in society, it can also be (and is currently) used as a litmus test of belonging. In this framework, the painful weave of some tribes’ languages and alienations can create a kind of ‘cultural diplomatic immunity’ where representatives of the admitted tribes are not held accountable to become acquainted with the experiences and champion the welfare of other marginalized groups. That immunity can also double as a kind of cultural blindness.

In the name of the alliance, heated hyperbole and fiery rhetoric are marks of heroism, even when they burn others. This is a kind of blinded and weaponized victimhood. The difference between this verbal violence and the violence it protests can sometimes feel like a matter of degrees, and the subject of the rhetoric who would otherwise completely identify with the alliance is suddenly on the defensive, wondering how the intersecting lines could have coalesced to exclude them from safety.

This is not about Israel. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about xenophobia or racism or misogyny or classism or Islamophobia or antisemitism. It’s not about any specific thing.

It is about one unifying problem:

Everyone deserves a fig tree to rest under unafraid. If the leaders of a group dedicated to lifting up the most vulnerable members of society make statements or take actions that make people feel unsafe (or actively include those who do), the Intersectionality they mean to wield as healing is also a weapon.

About the Author
Rabbi Menachem Creditor is Scholar in Residence at UJA-Federation New York, where his role is amplifying Jewish learning, leadership and values within the UJA-Federation community of supporters, staff, and partners. In 2013, he was named by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America. Rabbi Creditor has been involved in the leadership of Rabbis Against Gun Violence, American Jewish World Service, AIPAC and the One American Movement, an organization dedicated to bringing together Americans of different faiths and opinions. Among his 16 books and six albums of original Jewish music are “And Yet We Love: Poems,” “Primal Prayers,” and “Olam Chesed Yibaneh/A World of Love.”
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