1970s socialist feminist theory in the USA, like older socialist feminisms, anticipated much of today’s ‘intersectionality’ by recognising multiple forms of domination and refusing to rank them in importance. Today’s intersectionality has gone further in incorporating LBGTQ values and in the term’s use by many activist groups. That activist appropriation of an originally academic term, arising from critical legal feminism, illustrates a striking example of a feminist label moving outward, no doubt partly through women’s studies programmes. At the same time, the concept, in both academic and activist usage, has drifted toward emphasising some aspects of domination while occluding others, especially economic inequality, and occasionally emphasising a pluralist, empiricist understanding of diversity that omits matters of power. This article proceeds by tracing the precursors to intersectionality in second-wave feminism, notably its socialist feminist stream; then considering its development in academic women’s/gender studies scholarship; and finally, surveying its use by activists in recent years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)