Audre Lorde critically approaches each of her three main intersections. She sees each of these movements as umbrellas which focus unfairly on privileged members to the exclusion of marginalized intersections, perpetuating those other forms of oppression. She approaches Lesbians as a Black Woman. She approaches the Women’s Movement as a Black Lesbian. She approaches Black people as a Lesbian Woman. In “Man Child,” she comments, “Raising Black children — female and male — in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy.”(a, pp81) This description of America shows how she considers it at odds with each of her intersectional aspects; as a black person struggling to justify her right to exist, as a woman struggling to justify her right to exist, and as a lesbian struggling to justify her right to exist.
Many other writers take the side of the movement associated with their first adjective. (ie. Black Lesbian Woman vs Lesbian Black Woman vs Woman Lesbian Black.) Lorde does the opposite. Her perspective is to critique each movement from the perspective of the others. In An Open Letter to Mary Daly, Lorde criticizes feminism from the perspective of a Black Lesbian, “Mary has made a conscious decision to narrow her scope and to deal only with the ecology of western european women.”(b, pp75)
Lorde’s critique of Mary Daly shows that Mary ignores marginalized groups within the feminist movement and suggests she include examples from these groups in her publications. For example, she writes, “Then, to realize that the only quotations from Black women’s words were the ones you used to introduce your chapter on African genital mutilation made me question why you needed to use them at all.”(a pp76) Lorde goes on to question whether Daly has even read the work of black women beyond skimming it for quotes to copy and paste in order to confirm her preexisting conclusions.
The simplest suggestion Lorde has for Daly is that she live up to her own values and respond to the many criticisms leveled in the open letter, “I would like not to destroy you in my consciousness, not to have to. So as a sister Hag, I ask you to speak to my perceptions.“ (b pp78) Silence on the part of the privileged is an act of oppression, especially silence with regard to oppression. An ally uses privilege to empower and support the oppressed and to interrupt the cycle of oppression. Lorde’s simple suggestion is that Daly demonstrate the principles she espouses to, and offers support and voice for the oppressed intersections under the umbrella of feminism.