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The Solution- Mohany Final ahvang08

October 12, 2011 · No Comments

In order to understand Chandra Mohanty’s goal for feminism you must be able to understand her vision. In the opening chapter she explains the two projects that need to be addressed by feminist: “the internal critique of hegemonic Western feminisms and the formulation of autonomous feminist concerns and strategies that are geographically, historically, and culturally grounded (Mohanty, 17).” By this she means the distinction between Western feminism and Third World feminism needs to be blurred. She discusses further that the deconstruction and dismantling of this Western feminist notion will help to solidify feminism as a whole.  The second project she mentions is the formulation of autonomous feminist concerns and strategies, which basically means that there isn’t one solution to solve oppression of women everywhere, that each problem should be addressed independently and in context of who the people are.  However, Mohanty does emphasize the importance of transnational feminist solidarity, because if Western feminist feel superior to Third World women it just continues the oppression cycle and capitalist domination. “The hegemony of the idea of the superiority of the West produces a corresponding set of universal images of the Third World woman, images such as the veiled woman, the powerful mother, the chaste virgin, the obedient wife and so on (Mohanty, 41). This can be tied back with Collins theory of the matrix of domination. The oppressor typically constructs these ideas of the oppressed that continuously reinstate power over them. The idea of colonial superiority of Third World countries is instilled historically, universally and culturally into our society and the only way to breakdown these notions is to create a sense of solidarity between the First and Third Worlds.

The world has turned in to a capitalist economy, establishing producer and consumer discourses that continuously oppress those who are unable to fall into either or. The producer commonly recognized as the Third World and the consumers are the people of the West. But it  is the exploitation of the Third World workers that creates the issue of domination. In our contemporary economy women’s work is formed by domesticity, femininity and race (Mohanty, 158).  Mohanty explains that women’s work has always been central to the development, consolidation and reproduction of capitalism in the United States and elsewhere (Mohanty, 146). It is women workers who do the brunt of labor that no one else wants to do; it’s the agriculture, and the factory work in both large and small scale manufacturing industries that they are typically involved in. It is the work of these women that create the capitalist producer and consumer discourses. Women who work in these jobs are made to believe that they have to work with lower pay, less job security, and poor working conditions. Mohanty explains that what needs to change within racialized capitalist patriarchies are the very concept of work/labor, as well as the naturalization of heterosexual masculinity in the definition of “the worker (148).”

By addressing the issues in Third World women’s work, feminist will be able to breakdown the capitalist ideology that continues to oppress women. Mohanty believes the solution for resolving the oppression of Third World women is the ability to mobilize, organize, and solidify transnationally (140). A quote by Irma, a worker in the Silicon Valley, really resonates with Mohanty’s focus and that is, “Tell them it may take time the people think they don’t have, but they have to organize!…Because the only way to get a little measure of power over your own life is to do it collectively, with the support of other people who share your needs (139).” However, one cannot go and push for Western Feminist thinking in an area that isn’t dealing with the same issues. Feminist should strive to decolonize the educational system, to demystify the ideology of the masculinized worker, and to have an active, oppositional, and collective voice that comes as a result of one’s location (Mohanty, 216).  It is important to individualize the issues, but come together to support one another as a whole. She explains the greatest challenge feminist face is the task to recognize and undoing the ways in which we colonize and objectify our different histories and cultures, thus colluding with hegemonic processes of domination and rule (125).

 

Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2004) Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Categories: Abby · Chandra Mohanty · Group One



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