One of the reasons intersectionality is such a powerful concept is that it accurately mirrors the nature of oppression. We can’t just focus on the oppression of one group because one group is so rarely oppressed in isolation. Instead, where there’s one kind of oppression, there are almost always others. There’s a reason that North Carolina’s anti-abortion measures were added as a rider to an anti-Islamic bill: Because where there’s support for marginalizing one group, there will be support for marginalizing another group, too. But why?
This phenomenon allows us to safely eliminate the common “they had a traumatic experience with group X” justification, leaving a couple of possible explanations. One is, basically, coincidence: There is no particular relationship between, say, racism and sexism, or xenophobia and homophobia, but through our complicated history, they’ve fallen in together and now are always found together because they’re reinforced by the same pundits.
But the better explanation is that they are, indeed, related, such that s0meone bigoted against one group is also likely to be bigoted against another group. The basic mechanism at work is othering. The dominant social group considers themselves to be “real people” and “real people” to be people like them, so anyone who differs from the white, straight, male social norm–regardless of which way they differ–is automatically not really a person. In other words, if you see one group as less than human, you’re likely to also see other groups as less than human.
I’m tired of horrifying stuff, so to see this in action, let’s look at something silly instead: Teddy Babes! Yes, everyone’s favorite plushie sex dolls (have I mentioned that the rest of this post is going to be NSFW?):
Teddy Babes™ are made of velvety-soft plush material; with long hair, “come-hither” eyes, and a sexy expression –the perfect bedtime companion; a stuffed erotic fantasy come true. Well-endowed and shapely, and with a number of desirable characters to choose from, Teddy Babes™ are the kind of girlfriends you always wanted to have. Whether you enjoy real doll sex and are looking for a satisfying adult sex toy, or just something warm and friendly to snuggle, Teddy Babes™ are for you. Why hug your pillow at night when you can hug one of these?
I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with owning a plush sex doll if that’s what you’re into, despite their giant hemispherical breasts. And their plush vaginas. And the vampire chick plushie with horn-shape pubes…okay, I’m getting off-topic. But if you consider an inanimate doll to be “the kind of girlfriend you always wanted to have,” then you’re not seeing women as actual people (or you view their humanity as a liability), and it’s unsurprising that you also view minorities as exotic conquests.
If it seems reasonable to you to describe women in three- to four-word phrases dominated by hair color, such as “Blond Malibu Dreamgirl” or “Sexy Ginger-Haired Hottie,” then you’ll also see nothing wrong with descriptors like “Exotic Asian Temptress,” “Forbidden Nubian Beauty,” or “Spicy Latina Seductress,” complete with “‘ethnic’ hoop earrings.”
And you probably also don’t see the problem with dressing a four-foot doll in a schoolgirl costume and then banging it. But that’s a whole different conversation.