A problem doubled is a problem squared

Why has no British soap ever run a storyline about domestic violence in same-sex partnerships? For the same reason that no British high-street store has a range of petite maternity clothing.

I’m entirely serious. The problem is: you’re not allowed to have two problems, or two identities. You can be a victim of domestic violence OR a lesbian. You can be small OR pregnant. Dealing with more than one non-mainstream situation at a time means acknowledging too much complicated reality at once, perhaps fighting too many battles at once.

I think that’s what’s going on when people dismiss intersectionality. “I’m trying to solve a problem here! I’m trying to HELP! Why are you nagging me about a different problem?”

Fear of intersectionality is why right-wingers joke about “one-legged black lesbians” and the like. They’re joking about people with more than one problem, people who belong to more than one minority group. The humour is an attempt to flatten the dimensions of a non-mainstream life, turning multiple identities into a set of tickboxes.

But, just as “rare cancers” make up 22% of all cancer cases, a minority identity is a very common thing to have. And I think that most people instinctively understand multiple identities, because how many of us really only possess one?

Rejection of intersectionality is fuelled by the most powerful. They’d love to separate our identities to leave us weak and pitted against each other. That’s why we currently have a government campaign pitting “workers” against “benefit claimants”, despite the fact that most of the benefit-claiming households targeted are actually in work.

You’ll never stop divisive rhetoric. You can only be what you are, acknowledge what you are and give others space to do the same.

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