I recently attended an academic conference at the University of Notre Dame called “Intersectional Inquiries and Collaborative Action: Gender and Race...”Notre Dame was once a Catholic university. I guess they've decided to ditch that frowsty, confining bit of errant nonsense and embrace, err, diversity.
Intersectionality is a wholly academic invention that plays a large role in this movement. Indeed, it stands in the vanguard of the progressive academy, allied with critical race studies, queer studies, women’s studies, and ethnic studies. Intersectional scholars proudly proclaim their goal: to smash the neoliberal, corporate, heteropatriarchal academy and then to reinvent it in a way that rejects traditional notions about what universities are meant to do. These scholars also want to redefine the family and to abolish the “binary” of man and woman...
At the end there was a question and answer period. I asked whether and how Collins would suggest that intersectionality engage with its adversaries, the hated conservatives. Given the polarization of America right now, did she see some way for the two camps to communicate or find common ground? The vehemence of her answer was startling. “No,” she said. “You cannot bring these two worlds together. You must be oppositional. You must fight. For me, it’s a line in the sand.” This was at once jarring and clarifying.
We're all members of groups, some oppressed, some oppressing. The oppressed must band together and fight the oppressors à outrance. That's Notre Dame for you, always seeking knowledge and truth. Not Truth, mind you, that's an outmoded Catholic concept. No, it's truth. My truth, your truth, his truth, zer truth. With everyone defining their own truth, we could end up anywhere, from gas chambers to burkas for women to bayonets and trenches to John Lennon's Imagine. My money's on the bayonets and trenches. That's the way these things usually go.
And the whole Catechism thing with those silly ideas about Grace, forgiveness, love and individual redemption? Ha! What a joke. Nope, we're on this side or that. OK, that's a generalization. Actually, we're on one of any number of ever pixelating sides, but suffice it to say that there's white cis-males and everyone else*. I hope you weren't attached to that Jesus dude talking about loving each person as an individual. As Patricia Hill Collins, giving the rousing call to
Notre Dame, everyone. Let's give them a big hand.
Sigh. Once upon a time, I thought the Church stood for something like this.
I guess not.
* - Once they've dealt with the white cis-males, they'll be back to settle you, you oppressive hegemonist. You can rest assured that you're nowhere near the bottom, err, top of the oppressed pecking order.