Blogging the Theoretical

Mohanty: Gender in Third World Countries (Final)

October 15, 2011 · No Comments

Mohanty: Gender in Third World Countries

Chandra Mohanty’s “Feminism without Borders,” makes the argument on how Western scholars and feminists fail to properly examine the “third world women” and critiques the many issues faced between U.S and Third World customs.  Mohanty challenges the idea of “women as a category of analysis” (Mohanty 22). Mohanty indicates, “…in any given piece of feminist analysis, women are characterized as a singular group on the basis of shared oppression. What binds women together is the sociological notion of the sameness of their oppression” (Mohanty 23). She argues that Third World women are theorized and categorized by gender. She furthers her argument by indicating that there is no singular or monolithic conception of gender, that there is no one type of “Third World Woman” or “First World Woman”. She adds on by saying, “This results in an assumption of women as an always ready constituted group, one that has been labeled powerless, exploited, sexually harassed, and so on…” (Mohanty 23). Mohanty clearly depicts the assumptions that many Western scholars and feminist make in regards of the third world women that all “women’s” life experiences are the same. However, every woman is shaped differently based on their unique experiences and that is what Mohanty is emphasizing.  Woman’s experience should be defined by the location, history and circumstances of her life. Mohanty addresses that the distinction of gendered experience has been ignored in Western Feminist writing on development which have produced a Third World Woman that is passive and in need of rescue from First World women. According to Mohanty,

“…As a Third World feminist teacher and activist for whom the psychic economy of “home” and of “work” has always been the space of contradiction and struggle; and as a woman whose middle-class struggles for self-definition and autonomy outside the definitions of daughter, wife, and mother mark an intellectual and political genealogy that has led me to this particular analysis of Third World women’s work” (Mohanty 141).

This quote clearly depicts the struggle that the ideology of “women’s work” and the fact that it has been a reoccurring theme that women are faced with makes the resistance to labor exploitation more difficult. Mohanty discusses her interpretation of theory and the importance of individual experiences. She says, “…Theory is a deepening of the political, not a moving away from it: a distillation of experience, and an intensification of the personal” (Mohanty 191). Mohanty emphasizes that people should never stray away from having knowledge of understanding based on the political historical content of one’s country, specifically in third world countries. She argues that western feminist and scholars have this preconceived notion that all “third world women” have a similar problem when it comes to gender equality based on an economic dilemma. What they fail to realize is that it is more than just the economy, it is political problem. Mohanty addresses the fact that among the women of the third world their history of the political makes them more than just objects.

Mohanty, Chandra. Feminism without Boarders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2003. Print.

 

Categories: Group One · Jennifer M



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