Lorde examines how oppression operates on people's loathing of difference and their tendency to either ignore it or use it as a block to progress. This loathing of difference creates different kinds of limits. It limits the connections we can make with other people; Lorde discusses the generational "gap" that exists in our society and how because of this progressive lessons that the former generation has learned don't get passed down to the younger one. Lorde describes this as having to "invent the wheel every time we have to go to the store for bread." Ignoring differences produce ignorances about the real needs of people. The white, middle class, heterosexual dominated women's movement often ignored the fact that lesbians and women of color were different from themselves and did not simply share all the same problems and agendas. A person's ability to identify with the oppressor also varies. Lorde discusses the issue that there is more room for white women to seek a small share in the larger power of a patriarchal world than there is for black women. She also discusses the need for black women to come together as women and to cease relying on black men for identity. She explains her position as a lesbian of color: she is often made an enemy where she would be an ally in different communities, asked to abandon parts of her identity for the sake of avoiding tension by calling attention to her differences from others.
Lorde does not consider patriarchy the one primary form of oppression and discusses the consequences of obsessively focusing on oppression in terms of sex, or, for that matter, race, class, or age. She advises a more inclusive approach: recognizing difference and the relevence it has in people's lives and asking us to use a more intersectional approach to analyzing oppression and systems of power.