Blogging the Theoretical

Feminism – From the perspectives of Collins and Nash

September 16, 2011 · 4 Comments

When it comes to Feminism, there is no specific definition. There are only theories as to what Feminism is. In her book, Black Feminism Thought, Patricia Hill Collins, discusses Black Feminism and the oppressions that many Black women struggled through. One way she describes Black feminism is “as being a racial, class, gender, and sexual constitute mutually constructing systems of oppression” (Collins. 2008. Pg. 246). During the 1900s, many Black women were seen as slaves and domestic servants. They were seen as the “Aunt Jemima’s” or “mammy’s” because they stayed within a particular work field…which was domesticity and tending to others. Today some would say that many Black women have strayed away from domestic duties or any particular job description that tends to exploit them. However, some theorists like, Omolade point out that Black women have not in deed strayed away from domestic duties that isolated them within the home because of the fact they have taken new forms, such as working in nursing homes, day care centers, dry cleaners and etc (Collins. 2008. Pg.44). Collins discusses the history of the 19th century conception, the white imagery of female black body and its sexuality. She goes onto distinguish the ways Black women have been portrayed throughout history and the social enslavement they have endured due to the dominant race.
Collins states that “U.S. Black feminist thought contains considerable work that assesses how U.S. educational, employment, taxation, and social welfare policies affect African-American women’s lives” (Collins. 2008. Pg.249) and this can be visualized through different concepts within Jennifer Nash’s article entitled “Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminism and Antipornography Feminism”. Nash critiques Patricia Collins in various ways because of the non-agreements and the different views they hold. Nash states that one cannot presume a particular view in race because of the systems that have oppressed certain women due to race, class, poverty and inequality. Within her article, Nash declares that she has a problem in which anti-pornography displays and exploits race. She holds on to the idea that there should be choice. She argues for self representation and the drift away from controlling images that place labels on women. Nash focuses more on the Anti-pornographic view while Collins goes against the exploitation or objectification of women within the stages of oppression on a historical stance. Nash’s concept of sexual exploitation through pornography shows how black women’s bodies and black women, especially those with big butts, are perceived. Black women tend to be racialized more than white women and they also become more sexualized. She describes racialization when she states that “while white women are pictured as pillow-soft pussy willows, the stereotype of the Black ‘dominatrix’ portrays the Black woman as ugly, sadistic and animalistic, undeserving of human attention.” (Nash. 2008. Pg. 54-55). Nash also states and explains that “black feminism has become steeped in an ‘epistemological respectability’, producing an intellectual formation that tends to avoid questions about black women’s sexual desires, black queer subjectivities, and the various forms of black women’s pleasures” (Nash. 2008. Pg. 53). This can be seen in the way pornography oppresses women and subordinates them on a different spectrum based on their racial rank. The fact that they are Black women, it makes them more suitable for the sexual position or pornographic position in which they are exploited in because they are not were white, and this is the norm of society. Based on societies norms, White women are meant to be on a higher spectrum then Black women and Collins goes on to explain this concept by illustrating the role of Black women through historical and present data.

Categories: Group Two · Jennifer R

4 responses so far ↓

  •   emseav09 // Sep 17th 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Excellent use of quotes and I like how you integrated my suggestion of a quote from page 54/55. You integrated the quotes very well and it help to support the points you were trying to make.
    I like how you explain the roles that black women held in the 1900s by explaining the slave/ domestic worker characteristics, but I think your argument could be stronger if you use specific/ descriptive details to describe these roles. Also when you say that black women strayed away from these roles, maybe you could give a few examples of the various roles they have today to show the change/ progression of black women in the work force.

    Excellent Job! Very Powerful!

  •   kaasel09 // Sep 18th 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I think this is a very interesting analysis of the divergent views of Collins and Nash. However, I wonder if you can integrate their views in a more specific way to give strength to a more concrete thesis. I believe the quote “U.S. Black feminist thought contains considerable work that assesses how U.S. educational, employment, taxation, and social welfare policies affect African-American women’s lives” (Collins. 2008. Pg.249) is worthy of dissection, but I am not sure it applies to how you utilize Nash’s examination of the role of women in pornography. I also found your quote, “Black women tend to be racialized more than white women and they also become more sexualized,” very intriguing, and I think this is something you should tease out because though it is implied by Hill Collins it is not a juxtaposition she examines in particular detail. I think you have pulled together some very important points and now my suggestion is to pick which of these points are most important to your analysis and focus on these to critically examine!

  •   bphess09 // Sep 18th 2011 at 7:52 pm


    Your post was a really nice interpretation of both Hill Collins and Nash but seeks a more concrete and centralized argument as Kate poses. I enjoyed your integration of controlling images and think it it is important to consider how these images function as an ideology. Why and how do they serve as normative discourses surrounding Black women?

    You did a nice job engaging in how these images parallel roles of Black women within society from past to present but look specifically on their direct influence on black feminist thought. You have a great basis for a powerful argument and did a really great job with textual support I think you should focus on the structure of your arguments surrounding societal roles and controlling images. The pieces are there it’s a matter of putting the puzzle together!


  •   ogmcma08 // Sep 18th 2011 at 10:09 pm


    You do a good job of integrating quotations into your piece, but as stated above I think your argument needs more development. As Brooke states above, I think you need to further examine these ides of controlling images, and maybe how they not only kept Black women bound under their respective roles, but also how they impacted the development of black feminism.

    You have a good start to a potentially powerful and brilliantly structured argument, but I would focus on one track and stick with it, really getting into the guts of Collins/Nash’s theory. Great start, and I’m looking forward to reading the next one on Friday!

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