Humanities › History & Culture Intersectionality In Feminist Theory and Women's History Share Flipboard Email Print Stone / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History History Of Feminism Important Figures Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated July 31, 2017 Classic theories of inequality or discrimination tend to be based on single factors: racism, sexism, classism, ableism, sexual orientation, sexual identity, etc. Intersectionality refers to the insight that these different factors do not function independently of one another, but are interconnected and interact. In any relationship of oppression, one group experiences discrimination and the other the mirror image: privilege. A person may be oppressed and experience injustice and discrimination for belonging to one group, while being a person in the privileged position for being part of a different group. A white woman is in the privileged position in relation to race and the oppressed position in relation to sex. A black man is in the privileged position in relation to sex and the oppressed position in relation to race. And each of these combinations of experience produce different experiences. A black woman's experience of inequality is different from that of a white woman's experience or a black man's. Add in factors of class, sexual identity and sexual orientation for more differences of experience. The intersection of different types of discrimination produce effects that are not just a sum total of the different types. Hierarchy of Oppression Audre Lorde's essay on "Hierarchy of Oppressions" explains a bit about this. Note in reading this that Lorde is not saying that everyone is oppressed, though this essay has sometimes been misused as if it says that. She is saying that where there is oppression of one group by another, and another oppression, that those two oppressions are both to be considered, and that both interact, and both matter.