WCP: Class at the Intersectional “Crash” Site: Scenes from Orange is the New Black

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In this week’s Working-Class Perspective, Sara Appel reminds us that class expresses itself uniquely in each person and is complexly interconnected with race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and other forms of social identity. In her post, she explores the way class and other forms of social identity impact the relationships between characters in Orange Is The New Black.

One storyline from Season 3 provides an especially complex representation of not only the interpersonal and counter-systemic struggles typical of attempts to “team up,” but also of why a strong intersectional analysis must not fail to “see” class at the crash site. Discovering that she and transgender prisoner Sophia both have teenage sons, Gloria asks Sophia if her wife could give a ride to her son, Benny, on visiting day. Though this arrangement is initially amicable, class and gender quickly emerge as dual points of conflict among these women. Sophia, married and from a middle-class family with a house in Yonkers, is more class-privileged than Gloria, a single mom whose kids live with relatives in the Bronx. Gloria, on the other hand, enjoys the cisgender privilege that Sophia lacks.

Check out the blog post in its entirety (new window) as well as other Working-Class Perspectives (new window) posts on our website.

Our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, John Russo, brings the renowned Working-Class Perspectives blog to the Kalmanovitz Initiative. The blog is edited by John Russo and Sherry Linkon, a professor of English at Georgetown University. It features several regular and guest contributors.