In Kimberlié Crenshaw’s Mapping the Margins, she explores the flaws inherent in the systems of modern feminism and antiracist politics and how they often fail to recognize the unique areas in which they intersect. That is because these movements are based on the experiences of black men and middle-class white women which excludes large swathes of lower-class women of color and their struggles. She applauds the work that these movements have accomplished while also critiquing the exclusion of these marginalized women from the overall narrative by making it an either/or scenario for many of them. Crenshaw stresses the necessity of recognizing those who experience both racism and sexism and what can be changed to address those unique needs.
Crenshaw illustrates that by ignoring the intersection between the movements they ultimately end up hurting one another. She does this through her many examples of domestic violence and rape. In the instance of the latina woman who could not find shelter from her abusive husband Crenshaw shows the harms caused by the lack of preparedness or willingness of these women’s shelters to accept someone that they deemed outside of their norms for victims. Another instance of the banality of the movements is the refusal of the LAPD and other antiracist advocacy groups to release the domestic violence statistics for the very real fear that they would be used to demonize the people they represent.She argues that because of these failure of feminism to recognize race and the antiracist movements to address the oppression of the patriarchy, many women of color are left unspoken for when it comes to the issues that concern them the most.
Crenshaw frames all of her examples through not only a societal view but also a political and a cultural one as well, and in all scenarios, the voices of women of color are eclipsed by those who are either white or male. By ignoring the areas in which movements intersect those fighting for them are inadvertently harming their own causes and those of others fighting for representation, and by flooding conversations concerning race and gender with a narrow idea of what each means it creates a destructive dichotomy for those caught in the crossfire.