Main

October 24, 2008

Gandhi's area of controversy and the 'third world woman'

Many causes are based on the concept of the need for the Western world to save the third world, a majority of these are focused on saving the 'third world woman' from both the Capitalist world which has reduced her to poverty and the men; First world and Third; that suppress her with ideas of their patriarchal authority. Gandhi's essay shows how this issue has become an area of contention between post-colonialists and feminists. The post-colonialist argument is that the idea of the third world woman encourages the all too common phenomenon of marginality which is often pulled out by the West to define themselves as the normal and the non-West as the marginal 'Other'. The women of the third world are regarded as having no differences and share characteristics which show them as being oppressed on two very different margins; by the their colonial leaders and the men who they have to deal with on a regular basis. The fact that these two groups are currently involved in a struggle in which the patriarchical government try to maintain the ideas of nationalism is especially complicated for the 'third world woman' as she can hardly abandon the ideas of the nationalist leaders in favour of more feminist ideals for risk of being accused of abandoning her people in their struggle for independence from the West. Even the ideals of the liberal feminists of the West can not entirely be seen as selfless and for the benefit of the 'third world' woman as the liberal feminist approach to the plight of the women of the 'third world' is also held as suspect. The western feminist are accused of upholding the idea of the third world woman being an 'Other' which when compared to the feminist of the West, elevates the feminists to a higher status as they are considered more emancipated and independent than their sisters in the third world. The Western feminists are then just as bad as the colonial masters of the old who viewed the peoples of their colonies as very different from them but all exactly similar to each other, thereby making themselves the centre of the world and all others the beings stranded at the edges.

October 15, 2008

the figure of the "Third-World woman"

When it comes to the figure of the "third-world woman," postcolonialism and feminism cannot necessarily form a suitable coalition to theorize colonialist binaries; together they create areas of controversy. Firstly, the figure of the "third-world woman" is continually theorized as being marginalized. It makes it seem as if all third-world women are placed in the margins, yet it is the West that creates this notion. This creates a validation that Western women are not in the margins. Furthermore, this creates an "othering" effect, which perpetuates the binary of West/East. Western feminists continually apply a "saving" narrative onto third-world women saying that "'native woman' suffers in contrast with her Western sibling," so Western women must do something to help their third-world sisters. It gives Western women the epistemic knowledge for since third-world women are in the margins they must be poor, uneducated, ignorant, etc. while Western women are modern, free, and educated. Furthermore, the figure of the "third-world woman" is extremely homogenous. Every country, town, or even community within the third-world has its own historical and social complexities which are completely ignored by this iconic label. The figure of the "third-world woman" is not monolithic, for every woman is has a different experience.

October 11, 2008

Question #3

Explain what Gandhi means by the “Area of controversy� having to do with “the colonialist deployment of ‘feminist criteria’�

In Gandhi’s article, “Postcolonialism and Feminism� she talks about how the work of western feminists going over to third world countries to teach the women there about feminism often mirrors imperialism. Her main argument about why this is often similar to imperialism is that the attitude that many of the western feminist go there with is that they are far better off than the “third world women� which comes off as pity and an idea that they are more civilized. An easy way to avoid this would be going to these places with an open mind about the culture and commons practices and simply talking to these women. Speaking to them about their experiences and how they view it and if they themselves believe that they are oppressed would change the situation completely and it would no longer mirror imperialism.

third world woman

I believe one part of the "area of controversy" for the "third world woman" is that it allows "first" world women to not analyze their own life and experiences. By analyzing the "third" world woman and her short comings it allows the "first" world woman to not deal with hers. The concept that the "third" world woman is much worse off allows for imperialist ideas to take root. It creates and uneven power differential. This power differential is dangerous because it reestablishes forms of oppression and power that are originally being dismantled. As a woman who's passions for the longest time were in international cultures, I find some of the reading challenging and difficult because it challenges me to analyze why I am motivated to do what I do at all. As a white person I have a great amount of privilege. One of the many privileges is this ability to pick what social justice issue I want to stand up for. So if it is not appropriate to speak for others than what do I do? Who do I speak for? Who do I identify with....especially in a culture that puts some much emphasis on how you identify yourself.
Overall I think it is important to question why one does things or not... what is the motivation ? Do you help/speak for other people so you don't have to help or speak for yourself? I don't know... I still deal wrestle with these questions.

"Feminist-as-imperialist"

Gandhi describes a very real problem that exists in western feminism and postcolonialism. The "area of controversy" surrounding feminism today is the notion of the "feminist-as-imperialist." Gandhi argues that "the axions of imperialism are said to repeat themselves in every feminist endeavour to essentialise or prescriptively name the alterninty/difference of native female Others" (Gandhi 474). She believes this to be true because of the way western feminists "silence the 'native woman'"(474). They label her the "third-world woman" and believe they "they cannot represent themselves; they must be represented" (472). They believe that these native women suffer more than they do because of poverty and, in thier opinion, worse patriarchy. And so they take it upon themselves to represent them and thus be another "object of Western knowledges" (472). They never listen to the real women of these non-western countries. Gandhi believes that western feminism is therefore another form of imperialism that swoops into these countries and colonizes the minds of the women with western ideas. Western feminism faults in it's error of homogenizing the world and forgetting to take into consideration difference. Thus they silence these women by an imperialistic feminism.

Postcolonial theory and feminism

Explain what Gandhi means by the "area of controversy" having to do with the "the 'feminist-as-imperialist.'
Imperialism associated with western feminism in looking to aid ‘the third-world woman’ is a unique problem. These feminists may genuinely have their best interests at heart, but there will always be an inherent sense of hierarchy, patriarchy, and dominance. Gandhi quotes while analyzing Trinh “The consciousness of difference, identified by Trinh, sets up an implicit culturalist hierarchy wherein almost inevitably the ‘native woman’ suffers in contrast with her western sibling…the western feminist creates an insuperable division between “I-who-have-made-it and You-who-cannot-make-it�
I believe according to Iris Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression�, that in the process of trying to represent and speak for these women, western feminists are practicing cultural imperialism and marking the third-world woman as the ‘other’. While we certainly have the right to speak out against what is wrong and fight for what is right, I believe as feminists we need to stay humble and remember that there is no absolute universal right or wrong; everything is indeed relative. If we forget this and begin to speak for oppressed groups, we can become demeaning, arrogant, and hurt their cause. This represents the area of controversy.

Feminist-as-imperialist

I typed up an entry previous to this, but my log-in timed out, so I am going to try to remember all of my points.

I think that the biggest area of controversy surrounds Gandhi's discussion of the memsahibs. After reading the section about memsahibs, I was still confused about who they were and their role. I understand that memsahibs were Englishwomen in India, but not much more than that. Gandhi focuses on Barr's analysis of the memsahibs in a positive light as well-meaning women. However, Gandhi goes on to talk about the negative effect they have on the Indian communities. Does it matter that the memsahibs are well-meaning if they have a negative effect? The memsahibs consider the "Indian female" to be backward, and need someone to speak for them. Therefore they speak for and about the native women of India, but they do not speak to or with the native women. As feminists-as-imperialists, they still have the colonistic and imperialistic ideals. The memsahibs believed they knew what was best for the "Indian female." They feel the need to save the native women from the Indian patriarchy. Yet the native women do not get to give their opinions or feelings on any of the matters. As Gandhi writes, "Meanwhile, in the wings, Spivak's 'gendered subaltern' silently awaits further instruction." The loud voices of the feminists-as-imperialists silence the native women. As Spivak says, "White [women] are saving brown women from brown men." As the memsahibs enforce their beliefs and opinions on the native culture and communities, we lose the important voice of the native women.

Third World Woman

In Leela Gandhi's "Postcolonialism and Feminism" she describes the "third world woman" as "ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domesticated, family-oriented, and victimised," while at the same time views the Western woman as "educated, modern, and having control over their own bodies, and has the freedom to make their own decisions." In other words, both Said and Mohanty describe the third world as not be able to represent themselves and instead, needing to be represented by someone else. Therefore saying that the third world woman is seen as just an "object" to the Western, more privileged people. So the "area of controversy" that Gandhi is talking about is whether or not the "first world women" could exist without the "third world women." Mohanty argues that without the third world women, the self presentation of western women would not be the same.

Feminist as Imperialist

According to Gandhi one of the controversies that arises is the "feminist-as-imperialist". This label refers to the western/first-world feminist reaching over to oppressed third-world woman. With the notion of western feminists being civilized, educated, aware of their oppressors, and ability to take action against their oppressions; gives a certain degree of assumed hierarchy/top-down power and ideology. (western feminists on the top and third-world women on the bottom of power) In response to this display of power, Gandhi states, "The representation of the average third-world woman as 'ignorant, poor, victimized ' [...] facilitates and privileges the self-representation of Western women 'as educated, modern, as having control over their own bodies,' [...] the implied cultural lack of the third-world woman fortifies the redemptive ideological/political plenitude of Western feminism," (Gandhi 472). It is this self-affirming ideology of Western Feminism that becomes oppressive and when applied to other nations, cultures, communities and women, becomes an imperialist ideology. Gandhi makes the argument that western feminists become dangerous and oppressive when they assume the roles of "saving" third-world women. What is important to ask ourselves and these feminists-as-imperialists is have we truly considered the "third-world" woman's social, political, and economical structures within her society? her religion and system of beliefs? And more importantly, have we asked her to SPEAK for HERSELF? All too often do feminists assume the responsibility of representation for the third-world woman and in doing so turn their feminist beliefs into hypocrisy.

Gandhi's Jive

Explain what Gandhi means by the "area of controversy" having to do with the figure of the "third world woman."

In Leela Gandhi's writing, Postcolonialism and Feminism, she describes the construction of the third world woman, positioned as a subaltern. She describes the role of theory working toward abstraction to the point of erasure in narrating the third world woman's experience, often misinterpreting them as oppression or lucid injustices. She also describes the construction of the third world difference in which it is necessary to stop speaking for and start speaking to other cultures and cultural members or groups in conversation. Gandhi describes the arrogance and ignorance that propels theorists' persistence to inform other cultures of their oppression. She describes first world feminists inclination to tell third world women of their oppression, informing them that the US is better. She explains that this imperial gesture condemning other cultural traditions originates from an area of controversy or divisions between postcolonialism and feminist theory.

What does Gandhi mean by the “area of controversy� having to do with “the deployment of ‘feminist criteria?’�

Leela Gandhi proposes that Western feminist ideals regarding oppression, when applied across cultures, become a form of epistemological dominance. This is addressed in the form of controversies between postcolonialst and feminist theories. Gandhi argues that the concept of universalized experience and/or oppression, especially when applied to those on the margin, silences those with alternate experiences within that group. Specifically, when liberal feminists speak for women on the margin and thus impose their ideals, they silence the women they speak for and even incite violence. Gayatri Spivak’s critique of Julia Kristeva’s About Chinese Women as “epistemic violence,� and as an example of the “gendered subaltern,� is given is exemplary of this silencing. It seems that Gandhi argues that oppressions within a culture need to be defined in terms of that specific culture, and oppressions that apply in the Western culture do not necessarily apply to other cultures. She suggests that the agreement between postcolonialism and feminism regarding the nationalist and colonialist uses of masculinity has greater “potential� in theorizing oppression in non-Western cultures.

the colonial deployment of "feminist criteria".

Explain what Gandhi means by the "area of controvery" having to do with "the colonialist deployment of 'feminist criteria'"

Without knowing exactly what Gandhi means by 'feminist criteria,' I think that she's trying to point out the slight hypocrisy of Western Feminists. They have an idea in their heads that they need to swoop in, educate, and save these Third-World women without actually putting themselves in their situations. We assume that our ideas are the correct ones and feel that we need to grace the rest of the world with the same ideas, without really considering how different the cultures are. While advocating getting out from the power and influence of colonialism, Western feminists are employing essentially the same tactics. Cultural differences and ideas need to be kept in mind while spreading feminist thoughts instead of simply forcing them upon these women.

Colonialist deployment of "feminist criteria"

Explain what Gandhi means by the "area of controversy" having to do with "the colonialist deployment of 'feminist criteria'"

Gandhi's depiction of "the area of controversy" is best exemplified by her discussion of Pat Barr's book The Memsahibs. Barr, in an attempt to "valorise" [sic] domestic duties, also valorizes the relegation of the colonized to domestic labor. This is further expounded upon as there is a link drawn between the "unveiling" of women in the places like Algeria as a way to further colonial intrusion into native life. Katerine Mayo's attack Mother India claimed that India was unworthy of national self-determination due to "the brutishness of Indian men, the horrors of child-marriage, the abjection of widowhood and, of course, the atavistic slavishness, illiteracy and unsanitary habits of Indian wives". This attack even created a false dichotomy as nationalist authors of books such as Sister India decried western feminism as an attack on the Indian family when that's certainly not the case. While some feminist criticisms (such as the insistence that the veil should be ended) are ultimately an ethnocentric colonialist deployment of feminist criteria, many reforms to better the lives of women will better the lives of the new nation, particularly in the family. Educated women make better mothers as they are better able to educate and care for their children and have daughters who are more liberated. This is not a destruction of the family or of the country, this is a strengthening of both.

Colonialist deployment of 'feminist criteria'

Among the three areas of controversy which fracture the potential unity between postcolonialism and feminism proposed by Leela Gandhi, one is “colonialist deployment of ‘feminist criteria’ �.

Using “feminist criteria�, I suppose she means feminist ideas to improve women’s lives, basic rights (as we define them as western European women) such as freedom, equal rights, right of expression, choice...

The notion of “colonialist� refers to colonialism in its basic definition, which is taking power, keeping under control and trying to impose over another group. The term “deployment� accentuates “colonialist� and gives even more the impression of going everywhere, being everywhere and not letting the choice about our presence.

Now, if we associate all the terms, I think that Leela Gandhi wants to underline the illogical argument proposed by some feminists: they want to free third world women by imposing their arguments, and consequently in some way, by taking over their ideas, colonizing their way of thinking. How is it possible to free someone on the one hand, and in the other hand, to force them into a way of thinking that they probably do not want?

Yet, I have to specify here that I do not completely agree with this way of thinking, and more particularly with the parallel idea that we, as feminists, behave the same as colonialists with third world women.
In fact, I think that some women from the third world cannot express themselves about the way they perceive their culture because they have never been allowed to express about it. They simply undergo their condition. And then, even if we ask them about it, they will not be able to stay objective.
During class we read an extract from Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology and talked about “suttee�. Even if she tends to be extremist in her words, we have to question : how is it possible for these women to say that they do not want to be burnt, since they have been told and repeated that this is part of their culture? .

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.

October 10, 2008

Feminist as imperialist

Gandhi makes a bold argument that western feminist's effort bring feminism to third world cultures is remarkably similar to colonialism and other patriarchal power dynamics. Gandhi argues that any power dynamic must have an oppressor group and a marginalized group, whose very existence validates the oppressor group. Gandhi is saying that the construction of the Third World Woman is actually othering real third world women, and that this othering of the "Third World Woman" strengthens the dominant ideologies of western feminists.

Originally I would have considered the concept of the Third World Woman as a matter of ignorance and over simplification. The idea of western feminism using the Third World Woman as a means of reinforcement and consolidation of western ideas is far more interesting and difficult to grapple with than simply blaming western feminists for being culturally ignorant.

Deployment of Feminist Criteria

I am not quite positive what Ghandi means by "Feminist criteria," but I think that she is talking about the condescending and eurocentric ways that Western Feminists have pushed their ideas on "third world women." Western Feminists often disregard the problems that we have in our own country and act like sexism is happening much more often and to worse extents in non-Western countries. We must look at the relations of patriarchies around the world and how Western influences and globalization effect the position of "third world" women. Western women do not have the authority and knowledge of third world women's experiences in order to analyze their lives, and tell them how they should live. Often, when Western Feminist "deploy" their feminism it creates feminist backlash and resistance even more than before. Women become the symbolic representation of the nation and are made to uphold certain traditions and ideas. I found the discussion on the Mensahibs very interesting. The role that Brittish women played in Feminism in Colonial India was very interesting. Ghandi talks about nationalist anxieties about Western "feminism" (478). She discusses how the mensahibs and their western feminism "establishes a direct and problematic enmity between "brown men" and "brown women" (478).

Gandi

I thought the way in which Gandi theorizes the impact of western feminists on third world women was interesting. It is very difficult to any relate to exactlly what the western feminists were trying to do. I think that the techniques used, as in how western feminists belive that third world women are poor, uneducated, and trapped, while she claims that western feminists are educated, modernized and free was pretty radical. When talking about trying to modernize these third world women as with colonial powers.They were viewed as second class and thought to be helpless victims. I thought this was pretty close minded because it seems as if they do not even consider any tradtion or history of the people and just assumed that they were unhappy, less privledged victims. Overall i thought this reading was pretty interesting from the point of view it took, but found it a little confusing at parts.

Feminist-as-imperialist

In Postcolonialism and Feminism, Leela Gandhi’s critique of Western feminist women is very interesting. It is now evident to me that although Western feminist women are pulling for third-world women, their efforts are not backed up correctly. This is something I have never thought about. Western feminists approach to third-world women is ethnocentric; the pasts and historical perspectives of the third-world women are not considered by the Western feminists. I think Gandhi is trying to say that even if though it appears third-world women are treated horribly and victims because of a lot of different factors, some third-world women may be content with things that Western feminists may totally disagree with.
Overall, a tough reading but highly interesting!

Octopus

In "Postcolonialism + Feminism" Leela Gandhi posits "three areas of controversy which fracture the potential unity between postcolonialism and feminism: the debate surrounding the future of the 'third-world woman'; the problematic history of "feminist-as-imperialist'; and finally. the colonialist deployment of 'feminist criteria' to bolster the appeal of the 'civilizing mission'"

Explain what Gandhi means by the "area of controversy" having to do with "the colonialist deployment of 'feminist criteria.'"
Why does this cause the split between postcolonialism and feminism?

Continue reading " Octopus" »

Gandhi : "feminist-as-imperialist"

after reading the article, i can see that what gandhi is trying to say is that western feminist women do not see what they are doing to the "third world women". gandhi states that the three areas of controversy are: the third world women, the history of the "feminist-as-imperialist", and lastly the "feminist criteria" (Gandhi, 471). western feminist ideas are being forced upon the third world women without understanding their history or culture. and because western feminist cannot understand that, they will only see third world women as victims of their own demise. gandhi talks a lot about the native women and supports a lot of her arguments with quotes from other critics, and thus it was quite hard for me to understand thoroughly what she was trying to say.

Ghandi's Figure of the "Third World Woman"

After reading Leela Ghandi's "Postcolonialism and Feminism," it is my understanding that the image of the "third world woman" brings up many areas of controversy of which include: homogenizing the third world woman as the "Others" in which they encompass different qualities that are seen as undesirable by the Western culture, and because ethnocentric myopia disregards the enormous material and historical difference between the real third world women. I liked how Ghandi (when referring to Spivak's reading), referred to "catching the authoritative knower in the act of 'epistemic violence'--or authoritarian knowing." I really liked how she stated this because the way in which we do refer to the third world women in this country is a demeaning term used and is in fact epistemic violence because why should the western culture have the power to accuse their cultures as subordinate and undesirable?

"the feminist-as-imperialist" Gandhi

In "Postcolonialism and Feminism" Linda Gandhi describes three "areas of controversy" in the debate surrounding the "third world woman" which breaks apart the possible unity between postcolonialism and feminism. For the area of controversy of "the feminist-as-imperialist," Gandhi gives examples of authors who have written on the subject of the third world woman in which their focus is not really on the lives of women but instead is a reflection upon their own lives and culture. These authors are looking at other countries and, without talking to the women there, making judgments of their oppression based on their own culture. This analysis does not take into account the histories of the women and does not allow them to speak for themselves. By claiming that they cannot speak for themselves and that they are more oppressed allows the imperialist feminist to separate the "first" and "third" world woman. Thus the feminist-as-imperialist is attempting to extend their cultural values over the "third world woman" without understanding the histories of the women or allowing them to speak for how they feel about how they are oppressed.

feminist-as-imperialist

Leela Gandhi discusses the relationship between postcolonial feminism, the third world woman and the feminist as an imperialist her article “Postcolonialism and Feminism�. In this piece I believe she tries to explain the different views surrounding current feminism. Gandhi delves into the idea of an area of controversy in regards to the feminist-as-imperialist. The feminist as an imperialist is the idea that second wave feminist writing has a totally disregard for other cultures and their unique histories, thereby creating a hegemotic way of view women of the third world. It was the notion that we knew better than they did, that they must be saved not only from the men of their culture but also from their own limited understandings. Gandhi references Mohanty to explain the imperial feminist. Controversy is created because western feminists take an ethnocentric view of society and attempt to apply it to all thereby marginalizing other. In other words, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. These women want to help but go about doing it in the wrong way.
I think that one can look at the feminist imperialist another way as well. Generally, the imperialistic feminist is from the west. I believe that many western feminist theorists are assumed to using discursive colonial messages in their rhetoric, but that is not the case. I think that much like one needs to examine the distinct story of a woman from a third world country, one must do the same with an western feminist. Also, I find it troubling to deter women from writing about injustices in other nations. One need to not speak for, like Linda Alcoff describes but to speak with them. What are their feelings about a given situation? What is the history and culture driving their current situation? Alcoff discusses in her article that doing nothing and not speaking is just as bad as speaking for someone. To sit by and watch something wrong happen for the sake of maintaining correctness is something that Alcoff disagrees with. At the very least, second wave feminist misconceptions got current feminist thinking and evolving the field.
Finally, I found this article very challenging to read. I found Gandhi’s argument to be lost in her quotes and theory that is drawn upon from other theorists and lost her voice.

Gandhi- Third World Women

What does Gandhi mean by the "area of controversy" having to do with the figure of the "third world woman?"
Gandhi brings up many areas of controversy having to do with the figure of the "Third World Woman". I agree with Gandhi with the fact that she believes that when the Western feminists come to the third world countries they marginalize the women. The Western feminists are seen as "educated, modern, and having freedom to make their decisions", while when representing the "Third World Woman" they make them seem more along the lines of ignorant, poor, uneducated, domesticated, and victimized (Gandhi 472). The Third World woman needs to be able to talk and represent herself and not have even more limitations put on her. Although the Western feminists are trying to help these women in other cultures, they could also be oppressing them even more by getting involved in these ways.

"Colonial deployment of feminist criteria"

I really thought this idea could be related well to many of the tools of missionary work such as imposing Western standards of everyday life by teaching the other to act, eat and clean themselves properly. I made this connection specifically where Gandhi says the deployment of feminist criteria can be used "to bolster the appeal of the civilizing mission." (pg. 471) Also perhaps that this idea can somehow legitimate these colonial practices by disguising them as being helpful, generous and humanitarian while the native practices were likely working just fine before the colonizers got there. So not recognizing the success of differing practices but rather changing them to fit with what is familiar, comfortable and Western.

October 9, 2008

Third World Women

I think the area of controversy surrounding the "third world woman" is the fact that this term is so generalized and stereotypes an entire group of people. She says that the third world woman has the certain stereotype of being "ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition- bound, domesticated, family oriented and victimized", while Western women are seen as "educated, modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make their own decisions" (TF 472). This shows that our culture views the third world woman as completely lower and not worth as much. She also states that many feminists feel the need to speak for the third world woman, but I don't think that this is a good idea. The Western feminists have no idea what the third world woman is really like because she has never and probably will never have to experience anything that the third world woman has. Western women and the third world woman obviously have nothing in common according to the definition which was previously stated. I think that speaking for someone else is almost dangerous because people take offense to things easily and you might not be able to really get the right point that you meant without offending the third world woman. The fact that the third world woman is a mixture of race and gender makes the situation a lot harder to talk about as well. People always seem to get uncomfortable at the talk of race and it makes it easier to look stupid when you're trying to represent a group that never asked you to represent them in the first place.

feminist-as-imperialist scism

Examples of women benefiting through heir husband's colonial endeavors are present in all colonized nations. Any time manors, ranches or plantations were established in newly colonized nations, women were brought in to run them. Ghandi gives an example of Memsahibs in India, but there were also Spanish or American Haciendas in Mexico, Sugar Plantations in the Carribean and African cotton plantations to name a few other locations. In all these cases women were placed in positions of superiority to subaltern women. If we now go back years later to any of these locations, the mere representation of white women as sisters to "Third World Women" mimics the same type of oppressive dominating force despite the fact that we have identified ourselves as subjects of our own male-dominated oppression. If we address women from formerly colonized countries simply as sisters without acknowledging their conflicting relationships with white women, economically privileged women, academically located women, then we reduce their identities to something that shares our simpler relationship with dominating discourses. The political situations in all colonial locations were different and grouping them together as colonial nations limits the various issues we can specifically address. Ghandi's idea of "feminist-as-imperialist" takes part in splitting feminism from postcolonialism because one of the main thrusts of feminism in the West has been an recognition and respect of sisterhood between diverse groups of women. This ignores a differentiation between necessary for adequate postcolonial theorizing.