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Feminist-as-Imperialist

In her article "Postcolonialism and Feminism", Leela Gandhi discusses the problematic and abundant issue of feminist-as-imperialist in current western feminist theory. She states that through the colonization of native women (and men) by Europeans the binary of dominate/subordinate became established in a hierarchy of power. As the cannon of western feminism expanded, it worked along side of the post-colonialist theories and debates working to, "invert prevailing hierarchies of gender/culture/race" (Gandhi, 471) However, recently the bridges that once united these two realms of thought have been crumbling under an expanding discourse of "marginal" and "other". This new "buzz" language of the feminist discourse has removed them from that alliance and placed them on an opposing side of the discussion. From this standpoint the west has been, for lack of a better word, labeling the women in post-colonial societies, and in doing so has created a new binary of oppressions. The new category of "other" was "invented" and then western-feminist-imperialists placed post-colonial women within the very box that they had just created. This is counterproductive to the feminist agenda, which aims to analyze and break down the binaries that imprison us. Creating the subordinate space of "marginal" and "other" accompanies an imperialist mindset, which not-so-subtly says that they need to be "saved" from this very space in which we just placed them. It arrogantly assumes that in the west we have got it all figured out, and in order to be "less oppressed" (by our standards, of course) they should adhere to our versions of what the center entails and move towards it to remove themselves from the margin that we theorized and then assigned to them. This judgmental viewpoint assumes that we know their reality better than they do themselves. It states that they are not capable of representing their own reality, and furthermore, it expects that if they can, that they would want to share that reality with us! Clearly this standpoint is problematic and needs to be remedied quickly in this ever expanding global community. However, if that is to be accomplished then the women of the post-colonial societies need to be allowed to share their truths on their terms in their time. Has there not been enough outside demands already placed on these communities? Should we not wait patiently for the time when they want to speak out, instead of barging in and expecting that their lives, stories, and truths be told on our time lines and at our convenience? If this can be accomplished, then the cannon can be beautifully rounded out and feminists can globally rebuild the bridges that once united communities fighting for the principles of equality. There has been enough force used, maybe it is time to soften our approach and reunite what has been lost.

Bibliography:

Gandhi, Leela. "Postcolonialism and Feminism." Theorizing Feminisms: A reader. Comp. Elizabeth Hackett and Sally Haslanger. Oxford, NY: Oxford UP, Inc., 2006. 470-81.