Presentation Title

‘Merely diversifying?’: Intersectionality in sexual consent guidance

Presenter Title/Affiliation

State U. of NY, Buffalo

Start Date

23-5-2021 11:00 AM

Event Name

Panel discussion

Panel Number

20

Panel Chair Name

Kristine Køhler Mortensen

Zoom URL to Join

https://ciis.zoom.us/j/97769536783

Zoom Meeting ID

977 6953 6783

Abstract

Young people, especially multiply marginalised youth, report a gap between the information they need about sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships, versus the education they actually receive (Girlguiding 2015). Although intersectional approaches to sexuality have been popular for decades (Eckert 1989, Crenshaw 1989), the question of what successful intersectional education and research looks like remains problematic (Ecker 2014, Crenshaw 1991). Within sociolinguistics, intersectionality has been widely interpreted as recommending that analyses not simply add sociodemographic categories together, but rather attend to specific lived experiences of multiply marginalised populations, to understand how axes of social differentiation interact to produce social inequalities, and how they are resisted (Levon and Beline Mendes 2016, Wong 2016).

Drawing on a c. 120,000-word corpus of consent guidance produced by UK institutions for the British public, I show that intersectionality sometimes eludes even the most well-intentioned practitioners. Combining corpus linguistics and feminist discourse analysis, I argue that the texts construct solidarity with heterosexual men survivors, especially when distancing men from others’ perception of them as gay. But texts which discuss intersectional LGBTQ experiences construct intersectional experiences distally.

Paradoxically, then, highlighting the specificities of lived experience may privilege heterosexual men’s experiences over those of LGBTQ survivors, and present intersectional experiences as exceptional. I therefore argue that “merely diversifying” educational materials is not necessarily emancipatory, and may exacerbate rather than alleviate “fractal recursivity” (Gal and Irvine 1995, cf Eckert 2014). I conclude by suggesting future directions for intersectional education and research.

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May 23rd, 11:00 AM May 23rd, 11:30 AM

‘Merely diversifying?’: Intersectionality in sexual consent guidance

Young people, especially multiply marginalised youth, report a gap between the information they need about sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships, versus the education they actually receive (Girlguiding 2015). Although intersectional approaches to sexuality have been popular for decades (Eckert 1989, Crenshaw 1989), the question of what successful intersectional education and research looks like remains problematic (Ecker 2014, Crenshaw 1991). Within sociolinguistics, intersectionality has been widely interpreted as recommending that analyses not simply add sociodemographic categories together, but rather attend to specific lived experiences of multiply marginalised populations, to understand how axes of social differentiation interact to produce social inequalities, and how they are resisted (Levon and Beline Mendes 2016, Wong 2016).

Drawing on a c. 120,000-word corpus of consent guidance produced by UK institutions for the British public, I show that intersectionality sometimes eludes even the most well-intentioned practitioners. Combining corpus linguistics and feminist discourse analysis, I argue that the texts construct solidarity with heterosexual men survivors, especially when distancing men from others’ perception of them as gay. But texts which discuss intersectional LGBTQ experiences construct intersectional experiences distally.

Paradoxically, then, highlighting the specificities of lived experience may privilege heterosexual men’s experiences over those of LGBTQ survivors, and present intersectional experiences as exceptional. I therefore argue that “merely diversifying” educational materials is not necessarily emancipatory, and may exacerbate rather than alleviate “fractal recursivity” (Gal and Irvine 1995, cf Eckert 2014). I conclude by suggesting future directions for intersectional education and research.

https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/lavlang/2021/sunday/5