This is the understanding that questions around the “environment” – that thing out there which is separate from us and something we just dominate – can only really be understood If you interlace it with understandings of feminism, racism, class, caste, and other forms of categorization/hierarchy. Not understanding intersectional environmentalism means you’re more prone to making the standard schoolgirls schoolboy schoolgirl errors depoliticizing environmental issues. Intersectional environmentalism is also helpful in understanding how climate justice cannot be achieved without wider social justice issues (e.g. racial justice, gender justice, etc).
|Has a basic awareness of what intersectional environmentalism is can apply it in obvious cases and is able to explain it to a sympathetic, well informed friend
|Has a very thorough understanding of IE can apply it in many cases including non obvious ones, and is able to explain it to a not particularly well informed or particularly highly motivated to understand acquaintance and is able to respond effectively to some of the standard attacks on the concept of intersectional environmentalism
|Is able to apply the concept across the board thoroughly with nuance and sensitivity without losing sight of the fact that the lens is a lens is able to debunk criticisms of it with flair, verve and humour
|Like an expert only in other languages while standing on their head and blocking a pipeline
Element Overview Essay
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The causes of this not being well understood is it’s a brand new label, a couple of years old. And so most people are just not aware of it. The other downside is it requires you to think fluidly and to have a set of ideas and possible concepts, but to understand that at different times, different things will come into play more. That’s the whole point of intersectional that you can’t read off the script and say that race always trumps gender always trumps class. The world is infinitely more messy. And dare I say more confusing than that.
The consequences of not having it are that you can get easily confused and bewildered by the way that discourses play out and political battles play out. And you can make basic errors of interpretation and analysis and comment that piss off some of your allies. Of course, by being endlessly “woke”- to use the insult, you might piss off other allies. So it goes.
The solutions, as with any new concept, are to read about it, critically, to discuss it, do your best to poke holes in it. Also bear in mind that it’s perfectly normal if you do not understand the concept right away due to its complexity. Keep asking questions as you read, and maybe have goldfish bowl debates about it to see whether it works for you or not.