In Formation

In this session all of us had to present a poster that reflects a students movement with great impact on society and later on we discussed on the term of intersectionality and its meaning.

As a poster I decided to go with a recent movement that emerged at ZHdK some months ago about a student who got identified as a Nazi and is associated with right-wing extremist acts. The claim of the movement was to exmatriculate the student because of his intolerable actions against minorities. I was also talking to some of the people from the left-wing activists that have initiated this movement about their way of handling the situation and from their point of view putting public pressure on right-winged extremists has been a proven and successful method in the past to fight racism and discrimination, which is why they chose to go public with the persons name and exposed him to the public.

The way of handling the situation was highly controversial and I would be really interested about how life has changed for the exposed person. Did those actions make him even more radical and ruined his life? Did he change for the good and was able to reflect on his actions? I really didn’t appreciate the way this was handled and I actually think that the mechanisms pushing the exposed person into those right-winged extremist groups emerged from the same longings as within left-winged extremist actions. The wish of belonging to something bigger and the feeling of fighting against something that seems to be of great importance.


But now I’d like to go on with the insights I gathered on the term of intersectionality. I wasn’t really familiar with the term before and thought it was mainly about things you can’t really label as the term of inter - section literally says. During the discussion I realised that it is also about how labels and classifications of identities can contain each other or overlap and that intersectionality explores the effects of these interconnected categories on discrimination and disadvantages that arise from these interdependent systems.

Joëlle also gave us an example to clarify what intersectionality covers: There could be an anti-racism movement giving black men the right to vote but while doing this they maybe undermine other minorities as the black women for example.

Another example I read about was that making the vagina as the flagship of the feminism movement on a march for example could discriminate other minorities like non-binary / trans people .

That’s what I’m also wondering about the gendering culture in language, which focuses on the masculine and feminine categories. Of course there’s still the gender star, whose meaning is attributed with a pause in speech. But nevertheless those categories are so deeply integrated in the German language that there’s not even a term to include those who can’t find themselves represented in the generic masculine or feminine. But there are already proposals for changing that I guess. As we developed language as a tool to point out specific things from our thoughts as precise as possible, I think language needs to be revised if people don’t see themselves represented in language. On the other side there are plenty of things in this world that are too complex to be able to put them in one term and where it is totally fine to have to explain them with multiple sentences – where it may even be wrong to put them in a box of a word. Why is there always the need to label and categorise things in order for us humans to feel like we have an identity?

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