Intersectionality 101: Read To Know Why The Hathras Rape Case Is Different - Homegrown

Intersectionality 101: Read To Know Why The Hathras Rape Case Is Different

Rape happens all over the world. It is an uncomfortable truth that we need to contend with. But, in India, there are other factors which come to the fore when a woman is raped. Depending on differing socio-political realities, (like caste, class, economic status, religion etc.) women are oppressed and marginalised in ways that are varied. In India, along with other factors, caste is one of the prominent factors affecting women’s right to self-assertion and dignity. Therefore, to deny the role of caste in crimes against women would be to deny the women their voice. It would be to leave them unheard. The role of caste in crimes against women is evident in the recent case where a 19-year-old Dalit Valmiki girl was brutally gang-raped and killed by upper caste men in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. My intention in this article is to point out how and why a savarna man does not feel entitled to a savarna woman’s body in the same way as he does to a Dalit woman’s. The Dalit woman is looked upon as an object, whose utility lies only in the ways in which she can be used and abused.

However, what are the power structures that make him feel he has the right to inflict violence on it?

In order to understand that, one needs to understand what intersectionality means. Here’s a brief explanation.

The term ‘intersectional feminism’ was first coined by the American feminist Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. Intersectionality takes into account the varying socio-political realities of women based on their caste, class, religion etc. and studies how overlapping or intersecting social identities play a role in systemic oppression and domination inflicted on them. Therefore, theories of intersectionality emphasise that women’s oppression should always be considered in relation to its intersections with constructions of other sociocultural categories such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, disability, nationality and so on. This is an idea that has been integrated into much feminist theorising. The point of departure for the discussion of intersectional gender/sex is intended to emphasise the point that the question of intersections and the issue of which categorisations to prioritise are closely related to power issues and struggles over political boundaries and agendas. The ingrained caste hierarchies being a prominent feature of Indian society, continues to influence how women who are doubly marginalised on account of their caste, are treated. Since the needs of women living in different societies, belonging to different classes, castes, varying levels of ability etc. are not the same, their feminisms are also not the same. It is not one monolithic, universal category, which means the same to everyone. In a country which is riddled with immense diversity with respect to caste, class, religion, ethnicity, language, skin colour etc, feminism/feminist activism cannot be understood as a broad category with similar demands. It is rather as diverse and multifaceted as the needs and apprehensions of the people living in its vicinity.

Check these out to know more about intersectionality:


I. Intersectional Feminism 101: Why It’s Important And What We Must Remember?

II. Intersectional feminism: what it means and why it matters right now

III. Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

IV. Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History by Corbett Joan O’Toole

V. Demarginalising the Intersection of Race and Sex by Kimberle Crenshaw

VI. Assata by Assata Shakur

VII. Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed


I. Intersection Matters with Kimberle Crenshaw

II. How to be a girl

III. Code Switch

IV. Sooo many white guys


I. Moonlight (2016)

II. Frida (2002)

III. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

IV. Sonchiriya (2019)

V. The Shape of Water (2017)

If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read:

What’s The Problem With Feminism?

Feminism In India’s Patriarchy: Figures you should know

Feminism 101: Educate Yourself During Self-Quarantine

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