An Introduction to Intersectionality

As we recognize and celebrate Women’s History Month, Pi Beta Phi encourages our members to reflect on the diverse and unique perspectives of all people. Every person has a multitude of complex elements which intersect to make us the people we are. Today, we dig a little deeper into those crossroads and how our various traits intersect. 

The Intersectionality of Womanhood 

What does Intersectionality mean? The term has become extremely popular over the past few years, but very rarely do we discuss what it means and—more importantly—why we should care.  

Coined in 1989 by Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, PhD., Intersectionality is a term that helps give meaning to the layered and complex social identity each individual holds. Let's think of it first in terms of who you are as Pi Phis. Every day, we wake up and we live our unique lives. Some of us are full-time students, while some of us may work eight hours a day. Some of us live in a city, while some live on acres of land. We range in age from New Members to Diamond Arrows. All these factors inform who we are and how we see the world.  

Much like our careers, living arrangements and membership status, there are dozens of visible and invisible identities that comprise who we are. Our race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, wealth, ability, language (the list can go on and on) are identities that affect how we view ourselves, how we view the world and how the world views us.  

Intersectionality is a powerful way to acknowledge the vast or ever so slight differences in visible and invisible identities and the impacts they have on our ideas, experiences, interactions and opinions. Intersectionality also speaks to how our identities work together to frame our truths.  

Much like how the intersections of your identities work together and build on each other, they also help us solve problems and grow to be more informed of our Pi Phi member experiences each day.  

As we reflect on what it means to be a woman, Intersectionality is essential. To be a woman is layered, complex and rests deeply in the lived experiences and identities in each of us. This is also true about our membership in Pi Beta Phi; our Intersectionality tugs and pulls at how we view and what we value about our membership. All different. All informed by the Intersectionality of our identities.  

This Women’s History Month we encourage you to: 

  • Investigate YOUR Intersectionality. What identities live in you and how do those identities show up in different spaces, meetings and events? What parts do you hide, allow to shine or feel conflicted about? 

  • Embrace the different intersections of womanhood that make up our beloved Fraternity. We will continue to center the vast identities that make up our membership.  

  • Create space for understanding that womanhood is not mutually exclusive to your definition that makes you a woman. There is so much beauty in how we all live, define and explore womanhood.  

  • Commit to centering all experiences of womanhood that can be found in our chapters and clubs.  

We would love to hear about the different individualities that make you, YOU! Share your story here

Published March 21, 2022