At the beginning of the Critical Perspective II module, I booked a tutorial with my supervisor to discuss my ideas. At the end of the discussion, my supervisors response was to , scratch his head, lean back in the chair and tap his pencil on the table. I had missed the point… Where was my writing going, what was the focus?
And then the question was asked “Your ideas need to be visualised through a lens, have you considered applying a ‘feminist lens’ to your initial thoughts?” In short I hadn’t. And what on earth was a feminist lens? I had never considered myself to be a feminist. So I began to read, and read… And read.
Well blow me down with a feather, I wear a bra, I love men and I have some feminist views. Am I a feminist? Who knows, but I do know that I am enthused and intrigued by the way the feminist theory critiques, generalisations about sex and gender, intersections, the relationship between power and sexuality studied by Micheal Foucault and the challenges and divisions brought about by multiculturalism – I am hooked.
In 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw harnessed the term ‘intersectionality’ and although initially used in relation to race and gender (black and female), it now encompasses a significantly broader field including age, ethnicity, sexual-orientation, class, ability/disability, but to name a few. To consider and recognise intersectionality results in the researcher taking into account the ‘bigger picture’ and not focusing primarily within specific groupings and attempting to link them together. By ensuring that the obvious does not become the focus will ensure that other fundamentals are likewise considered. Intersectionalities can be harnessed and utilised within Participatory Action Research (PAR). By informing the researcher of the multiple layers of each participant, and how these layers will most definitely be influenced by their lived experiences and the direct influence of location and power-relations (McCall 2005), this is further discussed within Social Situatedness and Standpoint Theory
The theory of intersectionality informs the researcher of the need to consider their ontology, and the true meaning behind their research. Ontology, been the primary consideration, as this will inform the researchers epistemology, methodology and methods of research. A relativist approach to my research is becoming evident as I strive to investigate multiple realities which are shaped by context, and truth, which evolves and changes with time.
Woodhams and Lupton (2014) adopted an emic approach as they interacted with participants in order to establish a change, an emancipation. They concluded that intersectionality needs to be approached in an inter-categorical way, as this would be beneficial to researchers, by enabling them to capture interconnectedness between the many layers of the participant.
To become a reflexive researcher, I need to develop a deeper understanding of my ‘own’ self. I need to become skeptical of my ‘own’ views, in the same way that I am skeptical of other peoples views.
I feel another blog post coming on.
McCall, L. (2005) The Complexity of Intersectionality. The University of Chicago Press Journals, 30(3). Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/426800 [Accessed 17 June 2015].
Woohams, C., and Lupton, B. (2014) Transformative and emancipatory potential of intersectionality research: Making a case for methodological pluralism. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 29(5), pp. 301-307.