Prof. Ellenberg was last seen here being (mostly) extolled for writing a delightful and useful book. In his latest post, he elevates the notion of intersectionality from its natural habitat of academic feminist jargon to a noble, pristine status of nonlinear operators:
the condition of being queer and disabled isn’t the sum of the condition of being queer and the condition of being disabled, or even some linear combination of those, it’s just its own thing, which draws input from each of those conditions in some more complicated way and which has features of its own particular to the intersection
We’re not 100% sure that Ellenberg is not channeling Alan Sokal‘s
“Transgressing the Boundaries” — but we’ll take our chances.
With apologies to Prof. Ellenberg (and with none whatsoever to the feminist
establishment), we’ll try our hand harmless drudgery:
intersectionality is a rent-seeking multiplayer zero-sum game of who can score the most pokemon grievance points, to be claimed at the bean-counter. In its coalition of the fringes manifestation it got Obama elected twice, but did not work out so well for Hillary.
Unlike the 2-player variant of such games — whose Nash equilibrium is efficiently computable — the multiplayer version is computationally intractable. Perhaps that is why we as a society still haven’t developed a reliable routine for determining the outcomes of intersectional battles.
This intractability is illustrated by the constant uncertainty about which grievance faction will prevail in a given conflict. Gay vs. black? Gays win (better organized, richer, smarter). Trans vs. TERF? The trannies won hands down: a guy really can “shake his hairy nutsack” at your daughter — or pin her on her back in a wrestling competition.