October 12, 2008

Week Five

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.

October 7, 2008

Blog Five

Similar to Johnsons “Plus Five� system, Lorde explains that performing gender requires an accumulation of age, race, class, sexuality, and gender. Lorde, being a black lesbian, is oppressed by men because she is a woman and also by heterosexual women because she is a lesbian. When analyzing this performed gender, many aspects of the person are looked at, not just whether they look male or female. Therefore, age, race, class, and sexuality all limit the performed gender.
Lorde does not think that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression. Lorde, much like Frye, is trying to explain the origin of oppression; what types of people oppress and for what reasons they oppress the “Black and Third World people, working class people, older people, and women. She explains that oppression by men is not the only form of oppression. To go back to her example of being a black lesbian, she is oppressed by men but she is also oppressed by white women because of her sexual preference. As I understand it, she is stating that oppression can be performed by anyone even those that are a part of an oppressed group. Oppression is not only performed by the patriarchal group.
Because she is a lesbian of color, Lorde’s analysis of gender and power has more detail rather than just men have more power than women. She explains that sexual preference and race also play into the power that is associated with gender. Lesbianism was once thought to be only a “white woman’s problem�. Lorde explains that many black lesbians are less likely to express themselves freely because they will be thought of as being “less black� as a result of their sexual preference.

Oh, my Lorde!

I found Lorde's essay particularly fascinating. For one reason, her essay opens using Johnson's +5 system, Lorde tells us she is a "forty-nine-year-old Black lesbian feminist socialist mother of two...and a member of an interracial couple." Not only do I think it is interesting that Lorde throws her result to the +5 system out so quickly (in the second paragraph) but that her result to the +5 system is more than a result. Lorde breaks grammatical punctuation rules by listing her results with no commas between them, which right away tells us how she feels about her identity. As the essay goes on, Lorde discusses not just being black and being a lesbian, but rather being a Black lesbian...a huge difference. Lorde makes it clear that for her there are no ands, no commas, but rather that she is what she is because of what she is. Lorde's essay also brings up another intriguing subject. On the final page of the essay, Lorde states, "For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." In my perspective, this means that in order to change any type of system (considering that the system to be changed here is a patriarchal system oppressing women) the change can not come from within the same system trying to be changed. This means that real change can only come from, not only outside the norms, but outside the system. The greatest example that Lorde gives us is by capitalizing the letter "B".

October 6, 2008

Week Five

Throughout Lorde’s essay we can see that she feels that patriarchy is not the only form of oppression. She really focuses on how women oppress each other, through race and sexual orientation. “Black women in the political, social and cultural fields, heterosexual Black women often tend to ignore or discount the existence and work of Black lesbians� (Lorde, 121). She shows that even within the circles of black women, lesbians are being oppressed by the very women they should be bonding with. She seems to be saying if we don’t stick together even within our race how are we supposed to come together as women as a whole, and until we learn to do that we can’t make any progress.

When Lorde analyzes gender and power its obvious she’s writing from the point of view of being a black lesbian. “As a group, women of Color are the lowest paid wage earners in America. We are the primary targets of abortion and sterilization abuse� (Lorde, 120). She definitely includes herself in this group and isn’t afraid to say the facts, whether we want to hear them or not. She brings up the fact that when white women talk about oppression they only talk about being oppressed as women. They never talk about how races are oppressed or how they themselves oppress women of color.

week five blog for chole005

I think the most important point Lorde makes is that oppression comes in many flavors, not just patriarchy. There are so many ways for human beings to be somehow not exist as a 'plus five', (or limited) and Lorde brings to mind two ways these boundaries maintain the systems of oppression we encounter every day.. First, they cause oppressed groups to be pit against each other. They are blind to the fact that their struggles are really the same, or that they have anything in common with other groups of human beings that are limited by social stigmas or prejudge. An analogy would be a solider in Iraq. He or she has a lot more in common with the Iraqi civilians that resisted the invasion of their country, but identified these people as the enemy, rather than the politicians who decided on sending him or her to war, who the solider has very little in common with in economic and social terms. A second point that Lorde brings up is that by having some 'plus five' elements, say being white but also not being male, we do not see ourselves as the oppressors, or part of that system. By making this system a 'they' instead of an 'us', we can shift the blame to a nameless entity instead of of examining the guilt of our own actions. Lorde has been able to see this through her personal experiences as a black lesbian, giving her a unique and seldom heard point of view on gender and power. Lorde states that these differences shouldn't be ignored, as others have suggested, but embraced.


Lorde’s idea of a “mythical norm� resembles Johnsons “+5�, but a little more expanded. She adds thin and young to the system. Lorde’s gender identification is an indication of position as an oppressed woman because she is female and therefore is oppressed by male. She is a “Black� female and therefore oppressed by not only male, but also women who believe “white� is dominant. She is a lesbian female, and therefore oppressed not only by male, and white female but also by the African American woman. She says that the way the “norms� are defined in America, each one of us knows that “that’s not me.�
I think Lorde thinks patriarchy is the primary oppression, but in order for us to have a social change we must fix these other oppressions that really shouldn’t be happening. There are all these subcategories of patriarchy that make it difficult to bring social change. She says as women “we must root out internalized patterns of oppression within ourselves if we are to move beyond the most superficial aspects of social change.�
Lorde is even being oppressed by her “sisters.� African American women do not agree with Lorde’s identification as lesbian. That is something that should be left for the “whites.� It seems to them that she is betraying the community. Then Lorde says the sisterhood does not even exist. She has to fight oppression by man, in a different level or situation because she is different.

Week 5 Blog

I believe Lorde's gender indentification is always an indication of her being an oppressed woman because she believes that being a black lesbian sets her 'aside' from the norm of being a white female. Heterosexual black females also look down upon her because she is a lesbian, and they refer that that is a white woman's problem that led to black women deciding if they were lesbian or straight. This is an example of how she is showing that she is being oppressed, not only by white women, but also by women of her own color.

Yes, I do believe that Lorde thinks patriarchy is the primary form of oppression. People grow up living in patriarchy, learning to accept and identify it, and separate it from the typical 'norms.' In her essay, she describes how it is something we are taught from birth, whether it is deemed right or wrong, we choose a specific stance in it occording to what we are taught. In her case, she believes that people who were not 'used' to the fact that there are homosexual individuals out there, and those people were essentially taught to think that is the 'wrong' way from the time they are born. There is not a way we can escape it, if we keep performing it.

Once again, patriarchy comes into play for Lorde's analysis of how gender and power have an effect on her being a black lesbian. Individuals look at her differently, whether they are black or white, male or female, since she is a lesbian of color. They get this idea from the beginning of their lives where they are taught what is 'right' or 'wrong' in the sense of 'being' male or female, straight or gay. To her, people do not look at her the same if she tells them she is a lesbian married mother. In the opposers' eyes, this is not the atmosphere in which children should be raised, since they believe that is not the 'right' way. In turn, she has had to struggle with being accepted as a black lesbian married mother.

Week Five Blog

Things such as age, race, class, and sexuality are all limitations as Lorde would say. She brings up this belief of “norms� in society, limitations similar to Johnson’s plus five system, that “the norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure� (Lorde 116). With these standards in mind, anything less of them is the root for the oppression in society today. She also states that yes, there are differences between us such as age, race, sex etc. but she believes that “it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation� (Lorde 115).

Due to these beliefs I do not believe that Lorde would think that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression. She explains that many of these differences are part of what causes oppression, and that we should look at the distortions around difference and not every aspect by itself. Lorde also states that “in a patriarchal power system where whiteskin privilege is a major prop, the entrapments used to neutralize Black women and white women are not the same� (Lorde 118). This being said, she is making the point that the oppressed do not feel oppressed in the same way that others do. Because of their differences they are still oppressed differently.

She states immediately at the beginning of the reading that she is a Black lesbian woman. This seems to of course be a big part of her identity due to her status. However, it is with these differences that she states she wants her identity to be known. She wants to be looked at by all of her differences as she stressed before about learning and benefiting from difference, not by picking every aspect apart and possibly classifying herself by only one aspect.

Week Five Blog

Audre Lorde talks about the differing levels of oppression on women of different ethnic identities. White women, she notes, are more likely to focus on purely women’s issues and seem to consider all women equally oppressed as a collective. She also says that white women are more likely to join the oppressor because of the level of privilege already held by white women. Lorde discusses the way oppression is not always the same for white women and women of color. Because white women are more privileged due to their closer likeness to the norm, they are less limited in their everyday performance. Lorde says that people of color have less freedom to express discontent. Bad attitude in a person of color is often taken as dangerousness or hostility. Also, she she says that women of color face specific challenges in gender relationships because they seem to take the brunt of sexual violence, by both black and white aggressors. For women of color, this implicit sexual victimhood puts large limitations on their gender performativity.
I don’t think Lorde would identify patriarchy as the primary force of oppression for all people like Johnson might. Lorde focuses on race relations in her analysis of oppression. Her status as a minority greatly affects her interpretation of oppression. For Lorde, patriarchy is one of those sisterhood issues that affects all women. I think Lorde would argue that patriarchy is just one source of oppression for women of color like herself. Lorde would rather we consider the differences of all oppressed parties and make it our responsibility to be conscious of the way these differences affect the ways in which these different groups feel oppression. She uses her own position as a black lesbian to talk about the different ways in which white and black people think about lesbianism. She says that because lesbianism was once viewed as something culturally white, black lesbians are less accepted, even in their own black communities, and therefore less likely to freely express their sexuality.

October 5, 2008

Blog 5

Lorde's gender identification is always an indication of her position as an oppressed woman because of the obvious that women, in general, are always oppressed and because of the less obvious reason that even by other women she is oppressed just because she is of colored skin. White women believe they have a little more superiority over black women just because they are white and of the 'preferred color'. They want to share some of the glory and power of white men and, since oppressing black women is the easiest way to make that happen, they tend to take advantage of the situation. Even among other people of color Lorde is oppressed, because she is also a feminist. Being a feminist, to many blacks, makes her seem like she is betraying her culture and her community. So no matter where she goes and no matter what group she is in, Lorde will probably always be oppressed because of at least one of her many attributes.

Through this oppression, Lorde had gathered a very good idea of what it means to be oppressed and why the oppressors do what they do to oppress people he/she believes is lower than himself/herself. Through her life experiences she seems to have come to the conclusion that patriarchy is indeed the main form of oppression among society as a whole. Johnson said that everyone acts differently depending on the group he/she is in which I think explains perfectly the situation that Lorde is in. A white woman with white men would be oppressed, but as soon as that white woman gets a chance to be the oppressor for once she would change the way she acts and take advantage of her opportunity, therefore oppressing black women like Lorde.


While exploring Lordes ideas and rereading over her analysis of age, race, and class, one can see how she is oppressed. One is also able to notice that because of her position and the fact that she is black, lesbian, and in an interacial couple, she is oppressed everyday. Her everyday is much different than ours. She notes that everyone can see how black people, women, and homosexuals are treated as inferior, yet noone really stops and thinks about it. The fact is that this also a part of our 'everyday'. Everyone is taught at a young age how to act, and how to respond to others around you. Everyone is taught how to perform gender, and conform to society's ideas and norms.
On the idea that we perform gender differently according to our age, class, sexuality, and race, I agree. This idea goes hand-in-hand with the fact that what you wear and how you look can determine your age, class, and sexuality. We know limits because of our outward appearance. An 80-year-old isn't supposed to wear high heels and tube tops. They are limited to sweaters and long pants. Lesbians are thought to be 'butch' or are thought to be, as society would label them, a 'lipstick' lesbian. This is whats wrong with our culture. Why are there only 2 catgegories, and why do we even need these categories? These labels are engraved into our perpectives and need not to be.

Week Five Blog

In Lorde's essay, she describes ways in which limits and oppressions, and the different ways in which they effect us everyday. There are certain norms in society and as you get further and further away from a norm the more limited and the more of an outcast you will be. It's like the point 5 system, where everyone has a different make up but it's the ones that have more of the norms that have more points. Therefore they are less oppressed then those who find themselves with less points. This works with race, religion, sexuality, age, and class, where then it is more difficult to perform your gender when you do not fit into the limits that are usually accepted. For example, Lorde is saying she is more oppressed because she loses points because she is an African American lesbian woman.
Lorde thinks that these differences among us make us distant and create limits within our society. She proposes that we think about oppression by recognizing those differences between each and every person and look at what they might mean and how they affect us in order to move past them. Without accepting these differences we won't be able to get past them to create less limits and more community.
Lorde explains how everyone has differences but she uses herself to show how one person, like herself, who is African American, a lesbian, and a woman is oppressed. She has three things that could seperate her from the society, but she says that we cannot get rid of the system that we are in, because what we've learned in our lives, we learned inside this system. We need to think outside and learn to start appreciating and accepting the differences around us.

Blog Five

Unlike in the Frye piece, where the pride of men was the predominant force holding woman down, Lorde's system of oppression harkens back to the Allan Johnson +5 system of class, sex, and race in trying to explain the oppression problem. Lorde dismiss the idea of a universal "sisterhood" amongst woman as a farce. Instead, the other parts of Allan Johnson's system are what separates white, female, middle class, straight Christians from others. Whereas a white woman would focus on how the female portion affects her position in society, a black woman not has to worry about being a woman, she also has to worry about being discriminated by her race.

In other words, a woman of a minority class would be affected by her gender and her race. Thus, performing her gender may be especially hard. For example, a single black mother may have a harder time than a single white woman in securing a job and taking care of her child. A double whammy that can be multiplied by being poor, gay, or non-Christian.

Thus, the birdcage that Frye talks about in her oppression piece becomes more like an impenetrable woven basket of disadvantages. For those stuck in the basket, being taken equally may not be able to live the "American Dream." Instead, the "American Dream" is lived by those who act as the cover for the basket; being a part of the structure, but not bearing the load of society within, as well as covering those who are stuck within the basket.


According to Lorde, she, and all people not of the highest priviledge, are limited in performing gender because of the additional struggles of being oppressed by those other factors. As an example, she brings up the potential for black men to easily oppress black women, where the women can't resist in the name of black unity against their oppression. Additionally, because gender is performed differently based on these other factors, performing in a particular way might be seen as a taboo within another oppressed group which you are trying to maintain an identity with. Given the fact that Lorde is a homosexual woman of color, she is able to identify this problem. Were she every bit otherwise privledged, she would not be able to relay this analysis.

Patriarchy does not seem to be Lorde's primary form of oppression; that is, patriarchy in the sense of male dominance. Patriarchy in reference to the established system of privledges in Western culture, however, is what Lorde indirectly identifies as the primary source of oppression. She is not oppressed jsut as a woman, but also as a lesbian and person of color. No one aspect of her is the most oppressed, and anyone outside of whatever aspect of her is being oppressed, even if they are oppressed in a different way, can oppress her.

Week Five

Lorde’s text carries the same theme as Johnson does within his text—the plus five system. Johnson’s “plus fives� are (1) white, (2) male, (3) heterosexual, (4) middle class and (5) Christian. Lorde added her own category to Johnson’s five: age. Lorde wrote this article from the perspective of a non-plus-fiver—not white, not male and not heterosexual. She observes that black women's experiences are different from those of white women, and that, because the experience of the white woman is considered normative, the black woman's experiences are marginalized; similarly, the experiences of the lesbian (and, in particular, the black lesbian) are considered aberrational, not in keeping with the true heart of the feminist movement. Although they are not considered normative, Lorde argues that these experiences are nevertheless valid and feminine. Patriarchy renders women silent, invisible, and absent among men, the exclusion of poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians from the conference silenced, rendered invisible, and absent from those women who embodied difference among women. The theory behind racist feminism, we might say, is the same theory that excluded the experience and writing of white women for so long. Anyone who finds a comfortable place in that theory and refuses to cross over into the space of the margin runs the risk of closing off theoretical discourse once again to others. Viewing relations of domination for Black women in any given society and historical context as structured through a system of interlocking race, class, and gender oppression expands analysis beyond merely describing the similarities and differences between these systems of oppression to focus greater attention on how they interconnect. Assuming that each system needs the others in order to function creates a distinct theoretical stance that stimulates the rethinking of basic concepts in social science. These concepts are definitely not the "tools" of the classical or systematic theological "master." To rephrase Lorde, these are tools that will help to dismantle the house of bondage that insists on norm of Eurocentric patriarchal categories and experiences.

Week Five Blog

I think Lorde makes a bold statement when she says she has to identify only parts of herself, such as "I am a black woman," or "I am a lesbian." She has to sort of leave a part of herself out in order for others to be able to understand her. She's not trying to be someone else but yet she's not being her whole self. I also found it interesting that a lot of the oppression happens from those who are like us. For example when she talks about white women being oppressed as women, but focusing on just white women and not black women, and also when she mentions black women denying being lesbians or turning against black women who are lesbians. Age, race, class, and sexuality can all limit us in how we perform gender. Perhaps a lower-class female won't wear heels and a cocktail dress but instead wear jeans and a t-shirt. Older women don't tend to be flirtatious but some older men will make comments about young girls. I think the older we become the less we feel we need to perform those roles because we don't need to impress people as much anymore. Also different races have different backgrounds and different views of what is beautiful or normal. sometimes sexuality can be displayed through appearances, but sometimes people choose to hide their sexuality and act as a certain gender.

I feel that Lorde believes patriarchy is part of the problem, but that we are oppressing those who are like us. For me I feel that being thin is what is culturally good, and I've talked to many guys about this, but they like curves. So therefore it must be the women doing the oppressing in the scenario. She also gives the example of black women not accepting lesbians of color, that it is "a white woman's problem." Yes the +5 people reap more benefits and are given better opportunity, but I don't think they oppress as directly as the way Lorde explains.

I said in the beginning that Lorde is a woman of color and is a lesbian and she feels it necessary to identify herself as only one of these, being that they are not "normal." She finds herself being defined in terms such as "other, inferior, or wrong." In this article she openly states everything that she "is." She's basically saying people identify her by what she does or looks like rather than who she is, that she is "the lesbian," or "the black woman," not Audre Lorde.

Blog Assignment Five

Lorde's essay took Johnson and Frye's points and made them a lot more clear and relatable. She takes Johnson's "+5" system and adds other categories like age, weight/body type, marital status, etc, which I think need to be considered. Lorde shows us that even within one so called inferior group, women, there are more "sub-inferior" groups, lesbians, colored women, etc. Women are no only being oppressed by men and just for being women, but are also oppressing each other. I don't know how women as a group expect to become equal to men if we can't even accept, help, and consider each other as equals.

This is where "limits" come into play. Things like age, class, sexuality, and color limit how one can perform gender. When deciding how to perform gender, it has to be unique to you and has to fit into the other categories besides man, woman, etc., that you consider yourself a part of. If you are a woman from the middle east as opposed to a woman from Minnesota, the ways in which it is considered proper to perform "woman" are completely different. It is the same for the differences between how you perform woman as a 18 year old as opposed to a 50 year old. You have to perform accordingly if you want to be part of your group, your cultures' "norm." Societies' rules and limits may apply to all, but to all very differently. For as much a mom gets looked down upon for dressing like her teenage daughter or an arab women for dressing like an american, so might a black woman for dressing like her upper-class adopted white mother, by the women of the black community. Things like the third example may not be so obviously and normal for people to realize as the first two.

I wouldn't say that Lorde feels patriarchy is the primary form of oppression if you are considering the actually definition of patriarchy in which men are superior over women. Instead, Lorde is suggesting that women oppress other women just as much as men oppress women. This is seen not only by white women oppressing black or women of other race and ethnicity, but of heterosexual black women oppressing homosexual black women, and many other sub-group examples. She proposes that we think of oppression as anytime someone uses someone else's difference to put the other under themselves or to discriminate against the other. Finally, Lorde shows us that with her being a lesbian woman of color see can more easily see this type of oppression in everyday life, unlike some of us. She showed me a perspective that I probably wouldn't have even considered because it doesn't play out in my everyday.

Week Five Blog

I find the terminology of saying that gender is “getting done� to be rather confusing, more per say than gender as a performance. I heard it at first and really did not understand what the phrase meant, but as I thought about it more and through our class discussions I started to comprehend that “getting gender� done is just a further, more specific extension of gender as a performance.
Getting gender done seems to focus on the aspect of how people act out their gender on a daily basis to create an image for themselves in order to gain power. Getting gender done on a daily basis is about learning the limits that exist and how to work around them. I think this is where Frye’s “Oppression� comes into play and what he was trying to say. He talks about how when a person gets gender done, there are limits they must stay within otherwise they will face limits if they do not conform to sexual norms. The reading also points out that limits effect people differently and brings up other concepts like daily life and systems.
Within the systems is the fact that all people are implicated in the constant cycle of “getting gender done.� In class we discussed the important concept of us all being implicated and being in the birdcage metaphor that Frye brought up. I thought that the birdcage metaphor was very good because it gave a physical image of how we are all trapped in getting gender done and watching how others get gender done. Because it’s like we all understand that being in the birdcage may not be fun and rather overwhelming but majority of us understand that it maybe better or at least easier to stay inside the cage rather than locked out.

Week 5 Blog

In Lorde’s essay she discusses how things like age, race, class, and sexuality “limit� the way we perform gender. Lordes “mythical norm� theory ties in with Johnson’s “+5 system�. Those who are not white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure are oppressed do not “fit in�. They become forced to do gender like the “mythical norm� instead of learning their own, unique way. It is those in the +5 system who have power and are not limited. People who do have these “limits� additionally feel the need to explain the way they do gender and to explain why they are not like those in the +5 system. Lorde explores ageism and concludes that women will never be able to rise up in society if they continue to ignore the advice and experience of their elders. On page 117 she states that, “We find ourselves having to repeat and relearn the same old lessons over and over that our mothers did because we do not pass on what we have learned, or because we are unable to listen.�
I do not believe that Lorde thinks patriarchy is the primary form of oppression. She explains that we all have oppression but there are divisions within it. “Black women and men have shared racist oppression and still share it, although in different ways.� She further elaborates that there is not one main cause or characteristic of oppression. Some people have more “limits� than others and are ultimately more oppressed than others or experience oppression in different ways.
Lorde’s analysis of gender and power is very specific to her subject position as a lesbian of color because she faces oppression from two different perspectives. She faced oppression from everyone because she is a black woman, which is a visible “limit�. Within her community she also received oppression as a lesbian. She is writing from her own experiences, which makes her such a credible source.

Blog 5

The concept of mythical norms, Lorde says, is when individuals can look at the +5 groups in society and know they don't fit perfectly into these categories. This affects the ways in which one performs gender because someone may see one way in which they are different from the "norm" and assume that deviation is the only cause for oppression without looking at all their differences (race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) as a whole and how they are all interrelated to one's oppression. Lorde discusses the struggle black women go through, living with both racial and gender oppression. The performance of their gender is directly related to their race: "Within Black communities where racism is a living reality, differences among us often seem dangerous and suspect. The need for unity is often misnamed as a need for homogeneity, and a Black feminist vision mistaken for betrayal of our common interests as people" (Lorde 119).

I think Lorde would say that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression and that there is an established relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. This is seen in white women who use their whiteness to get ahead, and also in all oppressed peoples who "become familiar with the language and manners of the oppressor, even sometimes adopting them for some illusion of protection" (Lorde 114).

Because Lorde is a lesbian of color, she feels she is always separated into distinct categories of lesbian, woman, black, etc. which are never analyzed as being interrelated. She never feels that herself as a whole is acknowledged. She says the way we separate differences but don't acknowledge a relationship between them causes more fear of difference and therefore more oppression of people with those differences and more established power for those in the +5 system.

Blog Week 5

I think what Lorde is trying to argue is that a person’s position in the realms of age, race class, gender, and sexuality cannot be considered individually. A person is made up of all of these things, and it is not enough to say that they are oppressed from one direction. Women all experience the oppression of a patriarchal society, as argued by Frye and Johnson. What Lorde contributes to the discussion is that women may also be subcategorized and experience oppression differently because of these other underlying factors.
Lorde does not necessarily view patriarchy as the primary form of oppression, but rather one of the most recognizable ones. Gender is one of the most basic ways of identifying a person, and so it is understandable why it has manifested itself as a social system. Any construction that allows one to view themself as “self� or “other� (in which self is inherently better than other) will create a system of oppression. Lorde sees this creation in ageism, sexism, racism, etc. For example, she points out that lesbianism was not only “other� to the heterosexual world, but also another degree of “other� for her as an African American. Being a black lesbian is looked down upon other black people, and somewhat negates the fact that she is still a black person sharing the same oppression. It does not suffice to say that she feels some sort of homogeneity with all black people, because there is yet more prejudice within this blanket term.

week 5

Lorde's piece was largely about identifying herself, and how society encourages people to identify themselves in terms of singular differences. Lorde's position, that of being both black and a lesbian, offers a relatively easy way to examine how this plays out. She is both oppressed as a black person, and as a lesbian, but the contexts in which these occur can be every different. In a social gather of women, it is unlikely she would be made to feel out of place as a woman, however, she can still be alienated and made uncomfortable via her lesbianism.

Lorde would argue that The Patriarchy is the part of the problem that we need to change in oder to fix the problems that are. She goes so far as to say that the future of our earth may on new definitions of power and new ways of relating across difference. Our current definitions are part of the problem, and are part of the current basis of The System (The Patriarchy). Lorde argues that the system that we created, is actually something that we need to break ourselves free from in order to rid this world of oppression. This also implies the construction of a new power system, which must in turn be based on different values then our current system. While I used the word “patriarchy� Lorde recognized this for more then just oppression of females, but also of oppression based on various difference, such as lesbianism.

Week Five Blog

In society there are always oppressors and always those who are oppressed, unfortunately there are many different categories of where people fit into. In any society oppressors in every situation from racism to sexism all have the “belief in the inherent superiority over the inferior group and therefore, the oppressors feel they have the right to dominate�. Author Andre Lorde is ultimately oppressed. She does not have any power Lorde sees herself at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Why? Because Lorde is an African American female, who is a homosexual and in an interracial relationship. She is not only oppressed by white men, but by white women, and black men and women as well. According to Lorde “many people in society have a hard time recognizing differences and many of the oppressed are under some illusion that their oppressors are really protecting them�¬¬¬¬¬¬. Lord is constantly working against oppression, she views society as an unfortunate hierarchy, not only does she have to work in the limits of being a black women, she also has to work in the limits of being a lesbian in a relationship with someone who is not black. She is fighting against her black community, her female community, as well as the white community. Lorde was constantly being encourages to “out some one aspect of herself and present it as the meaningful whole eclipsing or denying the other parts of herself�. Those who are oppressed are forced to deny that part of them that is seen as inferior; in lorde’s case that was almost every part of her. In lordes lifetime power was based on hierarchy and she was on the bottom of the totem pole. What lorde wanted people to realize was how women look at oppression differently based on what women are more oppressed those others. White women work towards equal rights for women but do not look at black women’s oppression in society. Black women look at their oppression from the white male society but do not look at oppression of a black lesbian woman. According to lorde, to change the tension among women, women must be able to “identify and develop new definitions of power and new patterns of relating across differences�. All women must come together to fight against hierarchy, because if they focus on differences between women they are not going to be able to look at the bigger picture.¬¬¬¬

week 5

In Lorde’s “Age, Race, Class, and Sex,� essay she analysis how oppression takes onto people’s lives. She discovered the fact that we need to think about oppression in many different ways and we need to realize that these obsession exists. This mythical norms explanation of oppression she gives her readers, she herself believe are the cause of oppression. She said that mythical norms are groups that we all at least fit in one, either “white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure.�

I know it’s hard for Lorde to live as a lesbian, color and woman. But there are “limits�when it comes to performing gender. She said that in the black communities, black women have to realize that racism is a living reality, different among them are often dangerous and suspect. She talks about how white women oppress black women and how other black women also oppress each other too. She said that white women often don’t realize that colored women faces race issues.

As reading Lorde’s essay I realized that she capitalize Black, Color only and not american and white. These clues of her’s are telling her readers her main point about this essay. What sense she’s talking about and how strongly she felt about this oppression stage. That sets us form performing our own gender.

Audre Lorde and Oppression

Lorde discusses the position of an oppressed woman in that we constantly find "legitimate" difference between men and women, however, Lorde argues that we should seek to uncover and discuss the differences within the category of women as well. The differences between women such as race, class, age, ethnicity, religion and sexuality demonstrate the intermeshed oppressions that people experience uniquely from one another.

She encourages a dismantling of patriarchal dualisms that have created structures of oppression and the internalization of oppression that oppressed people carry with them. In particular, she discusses the experiences of Black lesbians, herself included saying: "I find that I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of myself" (122). In this quotation, Lorde expresses her frustration in society’s refusal to acknowledge multiple identities and oppressions. This, in effect, limits the progressive movement of women (and other oppressed groups) as a whole. Social, economic, and educational mobility are prevented by the silencing of some oppressions in favor of others. It continues to create hierarchical lines of separation and reinscribes oppression.

Finally, Lorde discusses the heteronormative oppression found within the Black community: One that is linked to sexism and often suppresses the identities of Black lesbians out of fear from Black male attack. She claims that this stems from a patriarchal fear of women becoming independent and self-relying which may reconstruct our normative notions of relationships and the role of women within society. As women, we must come together without a hierarchical structure of oppressions and use our simultaneously occurring identities to better understand difference as a tool to allow for growth and change.

Lorde and Limits

Lorde is very concerned with how gender, race, class, age, etc limit how we perform gender. She recognizes that since gender is a visual reflection of who we are and how we act, then also it is limited by other visual signals we give to people. She explains that it is not those differences between us in particular that lead to inequality but rather it is the refusal to acknowledge those differences and the 'distortions' that arise from trying to classify others without taking into account those differences. Lorde does not believe that patriarchy only oppresses because of sexual differences, she says in her article that 'To allow women of Color step out of stereotypes is too guilt provoking, for it threatens the complacency of those women who view oppression only in terms of sex.' What she is trying to say here is that if women of color step out from oppression then women who saw oppression only in terms of sex will be forced to acknowledge that there are other types and degrees to oppression. Lorde's perception of the world around her and therefore her thoughts and reflections are tinted with her identity of a woman of color and a lesbian. She includes many insights to both the communities of color and homosexuals. Her concluding statement of how to solve oppression is very revealing for her postion, 'For we have, built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression, and these must be altered at the same time as we alter the living conditions which are a result of those structures.' This means that if our definitions come from an old dictionary that is out of date then we will still fail the vocabulary test. And until we learn new definitions we wont be able to pass.

Differences; we can't ignore them

Lorde discusses oppression, as well as oppression within oppression. She says that we all have at least one group (“white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure�) that we cannot identify with and are inferior to. That group is specific to each one of us and causes us to believe that that one group is the only/most prominent oppressive group out there. For example, white women often fail to realize that colored women face race issues. Likewise, Black women tend to see oppression as a black issue, as opposed to a women’s issue.

I’m sure it’s very difficult for Lorde to live in our society being a colored, lesbian, woman. That is three strikes against her right there. She writes of black women maintaining that black lesbians are a threat to black nationhood, and “are basically un-black.� So, even people within an oppressed group can be oppressive. We’re all oppressive.

I thought it was interesting how Lorde stated that heterosexism is a way of identifying with patriarchy, whereas lesbianism allows women to be themselves (rather than servants of men). I can see how that makes sense, but what are heterosexual women who dislike the idea of patriarchy supposed to do?

The overall idea that Lorde carries throughout her article is that we fear differences, leading us to ignore differences altogether (which never solves anything), or try to fit in with the dominant and avoid the subordinate. I have heard over and over again that “we’re all the same� as people, but that’s not the truth. That’s a reality cover-up. Ignoring differences does not allow for change.

Week Five

Lorde describes how she is situated in everyday life in very clear terms. Because of this, we are able to do a specific read of her publication. Lorde describes herself as a lesbian woman of color. Because of her position, we can understand race, class, and sexuality in terms of Johnson’s patriarchy. All of those characteristics locate a person in society, and essentially limit the ways that we can perform gender. Lorde’s specific situation, as a lesbian African-American woman, always indicates her position as an oppressed woman because those factors play heavily into everyday life.

This is an abstraction of Johnson’s patriarchy. Lorde does not think that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression—instead, she proposes that we think about oppression in terms of joint vulnerabilities. For example, we can look at the oppression of black people as such: oppression of black men, and oppression of black women. Then, from there, we can think of the oppression of black women as black lesbians, and black straight women. Even from there, we can express the oppression of black straight women in terms of heterosexist black straight women, and non-heterosexist black straight women. Lorde is suggesting, here, that oppression can occur even at the microscopic level, and that oppression is not necessarily monolithic, like Johnson’s patriarchy seems.

I learned a lot from Lorde’s piece. In learning the ways that specific people with specific situations, like Lorde, “do� their gender, I can understand my own “doing� of gender in more detailed terms.

Blog Assignment #5

In Lorde's essay, she analyzes a whole different side to oppression that a lot of the readings we've been examining don't cover. She recognizes that patriarchy exists but analyzes the act of oppression within the patriarchal system.
Lorde doesn't believe that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression. She believes that oppression exists within the female sex as well in between the white and black females. Each category (white and black female) believes that the other is in a different struggle. The two "categories" don't see eye-to-eye and aren't on the same level as far as oppression goes. She uses herself as an example describing herself as a "forty-nine-year-old black lesbian feminist socialist mother of two" and goes on to explain how she is an example of a "other". These descriptions places Lorde in a "limited" environment. There's only so much she can do within her "limit", that is, when it comes to performing gender. These descriptions pertains to every single living human being and limits each individual to how much they can perform gender. What happens when a person exceeds their limit and how do they do this? And is it even possible?
Lorde proposes that we think about oppression through our differences, uniting us together through these differences. "We speak not of human difference, but of human deviance" (p 116, Lorde) is an important point she makes. Lorde develops a strong argument concerning how the human population focuses too much on the distortions of a population rather then creating unity from the slight differences. More specifically, as she goes on to discuss women and their oppression, "refusing to recognize difference makes it impossible to see the different problems and pitballs facing us as woman" (p 118, Lorde) So not only can we, as humans, overcome oppression but as females too.

October 4, 2008

Week Five Blog

Lorde’s analysis of gender was refreshing. Unlike other authors, Lorde was a forty-nine year old, black lesbian. She stated this very clearly at the beginning of her essay, and this identification certainly influenced the rest of her work. If you think of her in the view of the plus five system, she is very limited by these qualities, and thus, also oppressed. To Lorde, patriarchy is not the only form of oppression. There is oppression in her life, not only from men, but within her race, from other women, and from heterosexual women also. She recognizes the fact that we need to think about oppression from all angles – women need to realize that there is more to gender oppression than just from men. White women oppress black women, etc. Even black women oppress other black women – in her example, she is a lesbian, and thus is oppressed by heterosexual black women.

Her solution is that we need to realize that this sort of thing exists. We can’t get defensive and deny that we all oppress each other. We have to change the system – “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house�. We can’t do it unless we step outside of it. We also cannot ignore that the differences and inequalities do exist. Individuals need to realize that everyone experiences oppression differently – no one can just be easily lumped into one category. No one should be expected to explain his or her categories. The category does not make the person who he or she is. It is only a small part. We need to start seeing people for who they are – their own persons.

Fighting Oppression Among Women

As I am a very visual learner, I attempted to visualize the arguments brought up in Lorde’s “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.� For example, on the subject of “limits� to performing gender I pictured gender oppression as a large system. However, there are subsystems within these systems that limit certain people from fully performing their gender. Lorde says, “…white women focus upon their oppression as women and ignore differences of race, sexual preference, class, and age.� Race, sexual preference, class, and age are therefore the subsystems, and they are oppressed within the larger system.

According to the +5 system, one is advantaged if one is a white, heterosexual, Christian, middle class male. According to Lorde, this system seems to be prevalent within the women’s movement as well: young, heterosexual, white, middle class women are advantaged in their quest for gender equality. Women who do not fit these categories are more disadvantaged.

Based on the oppression of the subsystems within the larger system of gender oppression, Lorde understands that there are more forms of oppression than just patriarchy. There is oppression among women. White, heterosexual women are at more of an advantage than black lesbians. In order to see oppression beyond patriarchy one must observe oppression that occurs within patriarchy, i.e. oppression among women.

As an African American lesbian, Lorde is disadvantaged within the system of gender oppression. How can she fight against gender oppression when she is fighting oppression against her race and her sexuality? She states, “As women, we must root out internalized patterns of oppression within ourselves if we are to move beyond the most superficial aspects of social change.� In other words, in order to overcome patriarchy, women must first overcome divisions amongst themselves.

Blog Five Instructions

Week Five
Blog Assignment

This week, we started our new unit and Part II of our class. If we were to sum up what we have been doing these past four weeks, we might say that Unit One was an attempt to understand, on a very basic level, the generic functions of gender and power in everyday life. In contrast, we are now interested in naming how gender is “getting done,� what subjects are made in process, in what context is gender and power being analyzed, and what does it tell us about everyday life? We are now much more concerned with “specifics,� that include naming formations and operations of power, describing the precise context in which gender emerges, and analyzing how that gender performance might play out differently in other subject’s lives.

To recap, Marilyn Frye’s “Oppression� demonstrated how we can transform our discussion around the “limits� of gender performance into a dialogue around the politics of oppression; to talk about how limits impact different subjects differently is to talk about the way in which power situates us in uneven relationships with one another. Allan G. Johnson’s “Patriarchy, the System� located Frye’s more general observations about oppression in a systematic framework. He described how the politics of naming oppression- especially gender oppression- don’t have to be about blaming those who are privileged; instead, taking accountability for one’s unearned advantages enables subjects to consider how everyone is impacted by patriarchy. Lorde’s “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference� elaborates the importance of recognizing difference- not as a stumbling block to liberation, but as a realization of power differentials in lived experience that provide an even richer analysis of the inner-workings of power systems.

I want us to consider Lorde’s essay for a moment. She, like Frye, is concerned with politicizing the notion of “limits,� and like Johnson, is very interested in analyzing how such impediments stem from power systems, like patriarchy. How do things like age, race, class, and sexuality “limit� the ways in which Lorde, and the subjects she discusses, can perform gender? In other words, how is Lorde’s gender identification always an indication of her position as an oppressed woman? Does Lorde think that patriarchy is the primary form of oppression? If not, how does she propose we think about oppression? And finally, how is Lorde’s analysis of gender and power specific to her subject position as a lesbian of color?