In Biopolitics at the Crossroads of Sexuality and Disaster: The Case of Haiti, Rosalind Petchesky begins her reflections by sharing a definition of intersectionality:
“An intersectional approach invites us to conceptualize every domain or issue of political economy—markets, poverty, growth, militarization, climate change, as well as most problems in public health—as profoundly gendered and sexualized from the start. Conversely, every arena of sexual, gender and reproductive health politics has its deeply macroeconomic and development-related dimensions. “ (p. 4)
Two articles have reached us this week that speak directly to the necessity of always using intersectional lenses when analyzing the current sexual and reproductive rights landscape. The first is Intersectionality in LGBT advocacy, written by Fernando D’Elio of Akahata in partnership with Neha Sood of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, as part of the 2015 ILGA Report on State-Sponsored Homophobia.
The text has various merits, including the addition of the term expression to the extensively used acronym SOGI to make it read as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), a framing that has been advocated for since when the Yogyakarta Principles were elaborated in 2006. But, perhaps, its best contribution to the conversation on intersectionality is to once again remind that an intersectional approach is not merely to pile up specificities, inequalities and violations, but it requires a much more complex analytical frame:
“Intersectional analysis posits that we should not understand the combining of identities as additively increasing one’s load, but instead as producing substantively distinct experiences. In other words, the intention is not to demonstrate that one group is more victimised or privileged than another, but to reveal meaningful distinctions and similarities in order to overcome discriminations and put the conditions in place for all people to fully enjoy their human rights. Intersectionality is a tool for analysis, advocacy and policy development that addresses multiple discriminations and helps comprehension of how different circles of identities impact people’s access to rights and opportunities. This approach is critical in human rights and development work, and it suggests new and different approaches for the efforts of LGBTI human rights advocates”.
The other article — written by our dear friend Jodi Jacobson, editor in chief of Reality Check — is titled The GOP: Fiddling With Your Uterus While Our Country Burns and pulls the thread of intersectionality from a different, but yet crucial perspective. Jacobson retraces a series of grave accidents (or near accidents) that have occurred recently in the US railroad and subway systems, and calls attention to the fact that House Republicans have voted to cut Amtrak budget and refused releasing the funds required for installing positive train control across the nation’s railroads. At the same time she remarks, the Republicans were energetically engaged in passing legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks, a law that “would increase the emotional, economic, and physical costs of abortion care and would, if signed into law, ultimately cost some women their lives and innumerable others their freedom”.
Jacobson analyses how the Republican party has been systematically eroding the legal, institutional, economic and physical infra-structures that are vital for enabling the exercise of rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and ensuring wellbeing to all. Most importantly, she precisely links the dots to show how the moral and narrow political obsession of conservative sectors to control women’s bodies at all costs serves to “both divert attention from the slow motion train wreck that is our crumbling infrastructure, economy, and broader threats like climate change…”
We strongly recommend the reading of both articles,