Gender identity has a significant impact on how an individual navigates and experiences the world. This chapter provides an overview of the intersections of social identities, offers an introduction to intersectionality, explores the impact of systems of oppression on mental health and well-being, and suggests strategies for incorporating principles of intersectionality and identity construction into counseling practice. Locating individual identity within sociopolitical contexts and recognizing the mutually constitutive interplay of social identities cause a significant shift in how identities are experienced, studied, and treated within counseling relationships and educational contexts. Many practitioners ground their work in social justice principles, recognizing that power, privilege, oppression, and discrimination impact sense of self as well as life experiences and expectations. Intersectionality has been deepened and broadened by scholars in education, counseling, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, history, queer theory, feminist studies, ethnic studies, and many other fields.
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- Go to chapter: Intersectionality: Understanding Power, Privilege, and the Intersecting Identities of Women
Members of privileged groups have important roles to play in social justice efforts. Because they have social advantages and greater access to resources, they are in unique positions to address issues in ways that are more difficult for those with disadvantages, as they are somewhat protected from the negative outcomes of doing so. Thus, White people can work to reduce racism, wealthy people economic inequality, heterosexual people homophobia, and so forth. This chapter highlights how the participation of those in privileged groups is essential to the success of social movements. Sexism is a form of prejudice, and it is important to have a clear understanding of how it works. Many people in dominant groups define prejudice in individualistic terms, as a consciously held attitude. Everyday allies are men who practice supportive behaviors whenever they encounter the opportunity.