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Universal Patriarchy

“The political assumption that there must be a universal basis for feminism, one which must be found in an identity assumed to exist cross-culturally, often accompanies the notion that the oppression of women has some singular form discernible in the universal or hegemonic structure of patriarchy or masculine domination� (TF, 354).

I thought it would be best if I broke this sentence down in order to analyze it. Here is my interpretation:

-“The political assumption that there must be a universal basis for feminism…�

This is the political (meaning power and public) assumption (made by Westerners) that there is the same kinds of needs for feminism around the world.

-“one which must be found in an identity assumed to exist cross-culturally�
This basis for feminism is assumed to be the same everywhere, “cross-culturally� (West and East). Women all experience oppression from men in the same ways: sexual, gender, economical etc. It is inevitable in all societies and comes about in the same processes.

“…often accompanies the notion that the oppression of women has some singular form discernable in the universal or hegemonic structure of patriarchy or masculine domination�

The assumption that the same oppressions of women exists universally goes along with the idea that the oppression of women comes only in one form that is distinguishable in the universal (West and “non-West�) structure (ways that society has been created and maintained) of patriarchy (control by the ideologies of men) or masculine domination (meaning domination by power, force, violence, oppression, inequality).

Overall, I think that Butler is critiquing the ways in which Western feminism has tried to categorize ALL women in the world as having the same oppression, simply by being women. The idea that patriarchy is universal is a “short cut to a categorial or fictive universality of the structure of domination� (355).