Compendium | White students in 300-level gender studies class literally invent intersectionality

A handful of students in a 300-level Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies class went beyond syllabus requirements and coined the term “intersectionality” to represent the diversity in their friend group.

“It’s really quite simple,” says Marina, a U2 cultural studies student. “You can be more than one thing. You can be lots of things. I’m a woman who’s white. Emma is a woman who’s bisexual and white. And Christine is a woman who’s white but also from Quebec.”

The group is equally committed to outreach and sharing their creation with the community. “It’s like, the perfect party theme,” says one student excitedly. “It literally works for anything. Intersectional potlucks. Intersectional clothing swap. We’re actually heading to intersectional brunch right after this. It’s pay-what-you-can.” (Except the mimosas. They’re $12.09)

Emma, also a student in GSFS 376: Special Topics, expressed her excitement at this novel intervention into feminist theory. “It’s really groundbreaking,” she enthused, as she updated her instagram bio to include the label “intersectional feminist”.

She also outlined some potential applications of this term. “I took a class on racial inequality this term, and my dad is a cop who says really racist shit at Thanksgiving dinner sometimes. That’s exactly what intersectionality is about. I think he’ll be really on board with the concept because it speaks to the ways in which our family exemplifies multiple lived experiences.”

Marina emphasized the concept’s broad reach: “We think this will have lasting effects for people of colour. We want them to feel included in these difficult conversations. In fact, I can’t believe they couldn’t come up with something like this earlier. But anyway, we’re just really honoured to be here to speak for them.

Christine eagerly contributed to the discourse around race as well. “Thanks to intersectionality, those people– like, anyone who isn’t white– can do all kinds of things they couldn’t do before. Like for example, they can come to queer dance parties now. It’s really revolutionary.” The group pauses to collectively break into a “yaaas, queen!”

Zainab, who is one of three racialized students in the class, was less convinced. “I know that these girls are super excited right now, but I think they’re missing the fact that this concept… exists. Kimberle Crenshaw was–”

Christine interjected at this point. “Yeah, she was great! I read her book in Intro to Feminist Studies. But we really think that this concept is bigger than that. Thank you so much for doing the emotional labour involved in raising that point, Zahara.”

Zainab was not available for further comment.

At the time of publication, the group of students were brainstorming ideas for merchandise to sell on their intersectional feminist online store. Emma proudly displayed her “Intersectional” Rosie the Riveter cross-stitch and “Nasty Woman” laptop decal for our writers at The McGall Weekly.