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Intersectionality, Metaphors, and the Multiplicity of Gender




Although intersectional analyses of gender have been widely adopted by feminist theorists in many disciplines, controversy remains over their character, limitations, and implications. I support intersectionality, cautioning against asking too much of it. It provides standards for the uses of methods or frameworks rather than theories of power, oppression, agency, or identity. I want feminist philosophers to incorporate intersectional analyses more fully into our work so that our theories can, in fact, have the pluralistic and inclusive character to which we give lip service. To this end, I advocate an intersectional family resemblance strategy that does not create philosophical problems for feminists. I test my approach against María Lugones's argument in “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System” (Lugones 2007) to determine, in particular, whether we can successfully resist a move to create multiple genders for women. If we can successfully resist this move, then we can answer the objection that intersectionality fragments women both theoretically and politically. I also argue that my approach avoids Lugones's critique of forms of intersectionality that fall within “the logic of purity.”