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Power (Mohanty) by Madeleine Lavelle

October 5th, 2011 · 1 Comment

In Chandra Mohanty’s piece, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity she discusses the theme of power and how it is critical for us to move away from the old definition of power that forces us into a binary mindset of powerless versus powerful. She suggests we do this by stopping the categorization women as a homogenous group, crossing borders to experience new cultures and obtain new perspectives on feminism as well as understanding the innovative concept of “relations of ruling” proposed by Dorothy Smith. Mohanty also illustrates how the images of Third World Women are sustained by First World discourse.

Mohanty explains how the major issue with the definition of power is that it cements struggles into binary structures, “processing power versus being powerless”. (39) She goes on to elaborates that since women are seen as powerless groups, their shift into power in terms of feminism discourse, would be dismantling all men and taking over. This would make men powerless and women powerful, but women as a group aren’t all powerful or all powerless. It is critical to acknowledge that “women are not a homogenous group or category (“the oppressed”), even though this is a common assumption in the Western World.” (39) Mohanty also describes the six ways that Third World women are viewed as powerless figures from the viewpoint of Western eyes: victims of male violence, dependent on their husbands, victims of colonial marriage process, obedient wife, or hardworking mother. (24-29) These images of powerless women are sustained by the way Western societies perpetuate theses hegemonic ideas, which set into motion a colonial discourse that uses power to maintain these lasting First/Third World connections. Mohanty believes that border crossing is necessary to change people’s perspectives on Third World women and that by decentering yourself you will become more humble and thus have a better understanding of feminism as a world issue. Also by crossing borders, it will shift the power away from the existing binary structures of examination because you will have more worldly knowledge.

In addition to border crossing, Mohanty highlights Dorothy Smith’s concept of relations of ruling, which is “a concept that grasps power, organization, direction and regulation as more pervasively structured that can be expressed in traditional concepts provided by the discourses of power.” (56) Mohanty thinks that this concept is progressive as it focuses on various intersections of power and highlights the fluid process of ruling not the concrete expression of it. This concept is in the step in the right direction that will move society away from the binary examination of gender, class and race.

Tags: Chandra Mohanty · Group Three · Maddy

Mohanty- Gender

October 5th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Mohanty’s book, Feminism Without Borders, examines the role of Third World women in the world and within feminist efforts. One of her largest and most universal critiques and complaints about how Third World women are conceptualized is that they are often placed together, based on their gender, as women without the acknowledgement of their different situations and histories. Thinking of Third World women as a universal group just because of their gender is very problematic for Mohanty. One of the groups that she is questioning is Western Feminists and the fact that they conceptualize the Western female gender much differently than the Third World female gender, and seem to group all Third World women together universally because it seems as though white privilege is what provides individualism. Mohanty does believe that change is possible but only when differences are acknowledged and explored so that there can be solidarity without universalism.

For Mohanty one of the largest critiques of Western Feminism and travesties for Third World women is that Western Feminists blur the line between the idea of Woman that is produced by hegemonic discourse and women as unique historical subjects. All different third world women become grouped together and thought of as one Third World Woman. They are defined by society’s conceptualization of a gender without looking at any of their differences or uniqueness. Third World women as a group are then characterized universally as powerless victims. “This is because descriptive gender differences are transformed into the division between men and women. Women are constituted as a group via dependency relationships vis-à-vis men, who are implicitly held responsible for those relationships.” (25) In this light there is a monolithic notion of sexual difference and the world is transformed into victims and oppressors – There is little room for individual histories. Western Feminists use this grouping of women as a category of analysis and try to make universal claims about male dominance because of their assumed “sameness” of oppression. They incorrectly analyze Third World Women and claim that they are all; victims of male violence, universally dependent, playing specific roles in familial structures, oppressed by religion and development, and that married women are victims of the colonial process. Even without knowing much about the topic and lacking research it seems absurd to me to believe that all women in the Third World are oppressed in all these ways. There must be differences based on individual locations and histories, and that is exactly Mohanty’s critique.

For Mohanty gender is important on two fronts. Firstly, she is critical of the reality that Third World women are grouped as one based purely on their gender without examining any of their uniqueness and secondly, it is important to note that for Monhanty there is a large difference between the conceptualization of Woman in the third world vs. the Woman in the Western world. Western Feminists discourse gains power from the systemizational oppression of Third World women. Mohanty believes that change will occur only when we start to acknowledge the different realities women from around the world and stop trying to group them together and study them universally. The focus should then be on real shared oppressions like how labor roles are defined and Third World women are exploited within these roles. This will lead to solidarity in the cause without the troubles caused by using only one conceptualization of the female gender for Third World women.

-Violet Batcha

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

Tags: Group Three · Violet

Revised Post

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

In this paper I will talk about what feminism is according to Patrica Hill Collins.In Hill Collins theory of feminism, Black Feminism to be exact she argues that Black Feminist Theory itself is based on knowledge or experience rather than text because black women historically were not allowed to be educated in a formal setting or even allowed to be educated. Although, many of the ideals surrounding this theory were not formulated in a classroom does not mean that it is not knowledge, other scholars and intellectuals would beg to differ. Hill Collins argues that all controlling images contribute to the “new” racism in the same way because they are perceived in the same way. The main point that this paper will focus on is one aspect of controlling images which is porn.

A matrix of domination describes this overall social organization within which intersecting oppressions originate, develop, and are contained. Social institutions regulate the actual patterns of intersecting oppressions that Black women encounter (Hill Collins 246). The display of Sarah Baartman’s body was only the beginning of the humiliating search for “biological indicators” between black and white women and because the dominant group (elite white men) controls schools, media, and other social institutions that legitimate what counts as truth (Hill Collins 248). Similarly, the sexual politics of black womanhood that shaped black woman’s experiences with pornography, prostitution, and rape relied upon racist, sexist, and hetero-sexist ideologies to construct black woman’s sexualities as deviant. Intersecting oppressions also shape the experiences of other groups as well (Hill Collins 245). Inter-sectional paradigms make an important contribution to untangle the relationships between knowledge and empowerment (Hill Collins 246). Anti-pornography feminists are saying that if porn were to be taken away that it would truly demystify the “imagined beliefs” of difference between black and white women. Eliminating porn would not only be for the greater good of all women not just black women. For Patricia Hill Collins, the controlling images served a social purpose which is to provide a justification for the state’s continued disciplining of the black female body (Nash 57). There is a structured system in place so that black women cannot move up the social ladder argues Collins.

 

Hill Collins theory is more closely related to the dialectical relationship between conditions (political economy, segregation, and ideology) and everyday life, in other words, the structural versus the individual. Hill Collins believes that that the key to moving away from controlling images (ideologies) is self-representation. She says it is important to realize that these conditions in which we live create a different understanding dependent on where you are positioned within and because these conditions are human creations, they can change. Nash questions if “self- representation” would do anything in helping to take back the negativity surrounding black women’s supposedly deviant sexuality. Since self-representation would still be effected by “racial or social institution” how could it truly be a self- representation when someone else dictates how you should represent yourself and thus would further oppress black women.

There is a huge difference between anti-pornography feminism implicated in Nash’s essay and Black feminism described by Patricia Hill Collins. Anti-pornography feminists feel as though pornography was debauched and degraded all women. Whereas in Black Feminism especially from Patricia Hill Collins point of view she focused more on “the ways” in which Black Women in particular were portrayed and degraded more than every other woman especially when it came to bondage and domination. Black Feminists such as Hill Collins views black women’s struggles as a wider struggle for human dignity and social justice not just for the advancement of Black women (Hill Collins 294). Black women’s experiences challenge U.S. Class ideologies claiming that individual merit is all that matters in determining social rewards. The sexual politics of Black womanhood reveals the fallacy that gender affects all women in the same way-race and class matter greatly (Hill Collins 246). However, Nash is arguing that Black Feminist always only use the Sarah Baartman aka the Hottentot Venus idea and re-tell this story without looking at the new ways in which these imaginary/ fictitious sexual differences are portrayed. Nash is saying that we no longer live in that time period so it is time to expand our intellectual horizon. The biggest contrast between Patricia Hill Collins and Jennifer Nash is that Nash believes that not all images are perceived in the same fashion. It is not always the white man audience glued with his eyes to the television “eye- raping” the black woman. What about the black man that’s watching porn? Nash would argue that Hill Collins was not taking this into account. Nash also argues that not all women are depicted in porn the same way either. While some are depicted as being subordinate, others are empowered and take charge of their sexuality. Hill Collins argues not only are all black women degraded in the same way in porn but their images are also perceived in the same way by all viewer(s). There is “assumed” to be only one consumer of porn which is the elite dominant white male.

However, there are no other challenging images other than Sarah Baartman. She seems to be the only staring place. Hill Collins argues that all viewing and representations are the same while Nash argues that there is a multiplicity and not everyone views the same images in the same way therefore they can have different thoughts and interpretations. Black Feminist uses the Sarah Baartman story as the foundational groundwork for the “hidden racism” in contemporary pornography today. Hill Collins is saying that contemporary porn re-enacts the ideologies that a black woman’s sexuality so deviant. Inter-sectional paradigms make two important contributions to understanding the connections between knowledge and empowerment. African Americans confinement to domestic work revealed how race and gender influenced black women’s social class experiences.

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1st Feminism Post

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

Both Jennifer Nash and Patricia Hill Collins are feminists whom have very contradicting view points on Black Feminist thought and theory. Hill Collins theory is more closely related to the dialectical relationship between conditions (political economy, segregation, and ideology) and everyday life, in other words, the structural versus the individual. Hill Collins believes that that the key to moving away from controlling images (ideologies) is self-representation. She says it is important to realize that these conditions in which we live create a different understanding dependent on where you are positioned within and because these conditions are human creations, they can change. Nash questions if “self- representation” would do anything in helping to take back the negativity surrounding black women’s supposedly deviant sexuality. Since self-representation would still be effected by “race/ a social institution” how could it truly be a self- representation when someone else dictates how you should represent yourself and thus would further oppress black woman because of the demand of visual proof of difference. Hill Collins would also argue that all “cultural production” by black women is theoretical production while Nash would argue that it is not. Nash would also argue that racial iconography is to blame for the ideologies that still exist today.

There is a huge difference between anti-pornography feminism implicated in Nash’s essay and Black feminism described by Patricia Hill Collins. Anti-pornography feminists feel as though pornography was debauched and degraded all women. Whereas in Black Feminism especially from Patricia Hill Collins point of view she focused more on “the ways” in which Black Women in particular were portrayed and degraded more than every other woman especially when it came to bondage and domination. Black Feminists such as Hill Collins views black women’s struggles as a wider struggle for human dignity and social justice not just for the advancement of Black women (Hill Collins 294). Black women’s experiences challenge U.S. Class ideologies claiming that individual merit is all that matters in determining social rewards. The sexual politics of Black womanhood reveals the fallacy that gender affects all women in the same way-race and class matter greatly (Hill Collins 246). However, Nash is arguing that Black Feminist always only use the Sarah Baartman aka the Hottentot Venus idea and re-tell this story without looking at the new ways in which these imaginary/ fictitious sexual differences are portrayed. Nash is saying that we no longer live in that time period so it is time to expand our intellectual horizon. However, there are no other challenging images other than Sarah Baartman. She seems to be the only staring place. Hill Collins argues that all viewing and representations are the same while Nash argues that there is a multiplicity and not everyone views the same images in the same way therefore they can have different thoughts and interpretations. Black Feminist uses the Sarah Baartman story as the foundational groundwork for the “hidden racism” in contemporary pornography today. Hill Collins is saying that contemporary porn re-enacts the ideologies that a black woman’s sexuality so deviant. Intersectional paradigms make two important contributions to understanding the connections between knowledge and empowerment. African Americans confinement to domestic work revealed how race and gender influenced black women’s social class experiences. Similarly, the sexual politics of black womanhood that shaped black woman’s experiences with pornography, prostitution, and rape relied upon racist, sexist, and heterosexist ideologies to construct black woman’s sexualities as deviant. Intersecting oppressions also shape the experiences of other groups as well (Hill Collins 245). Intersectional paradigms make an important contribution to untangle the relationships between knowledge and empowerment (Hill Collins 246). Anti-pornography feminists are saying that if porn were to be taken away that it would truly demystify the “imagined beliefs” of difference between black and white women. Eliminating porn would not only be for the greater good of all women not just black women. For Patricia Hill Collins, the controlling images served a social purpose which is to provide a justification for the state’s continued disciplining of the black female body (Nash 57).  There is a structured system in place so that black women cannot move up the social ladder argues Collins. A matrix of domination describes this overall social organization within which intersecting oppressions originate, develop, and are contained. Social institutions regulate the actual patterns of intersecting oppressions that Black women encounter (Hill Collins 246).The display of Sarah Baartman’s body was only the beginning of the humiliating search for “biological indicators” between black and white women and because the dominant group (elite white men) controls schools, media, and other social institutions that legitimate what counts as truth (Hill Collins 248).

 

Categories: Group Three

3 responses so far ↓

  • vsbatc08 // Sep 18th 2011 at 2:23 pm (Edit)

    This blog does a good job incorporating the views of Nash about feminism for comparison. I think using more direct quotes instead of always paraphrasing could be useful if you can find some of relevance.

    Since this is a blog that’s primary focus is to discuss the term “feminism” in regards to Hill Collins I think it could be beneficial to frame how Hill Collins defines feminism in the beginning. The structure is a little jumbled so it becomes unclear what the main topic you are discussing is.

  • esmarv09 // Sep 19th 2011 at 10:58 pm (Edit)

    I got very lost in the transition from Collins to Nash in the beginning- I didn’t realize which one you were talking about. I think your comparisons throughout the paper were good but could be structured a bit better to be clearer. If you could incorporate another Nash quote I think that would help support your argument for her. You did a good job of showing both Collins’ and Nash’s arguments for each aspect of your paper.

  • jeshul08 // Sep 21st 2011 at 5:30 pm (Edit)

    When I first started reading this I thought I was with you on who you were talking about when but then realized I was completely off. I would just make sure that when you are transitioning for person to person you make it very clear.

    I thought you did a good job at outlining both Collins’ and Nash”s arguments. I would have to agree with Violet I would like to see another quote from Collins that helps to frame her definition of feminism in the beginning.

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Knowledge (Final) by Emily Marvin

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

Epistemology is a consistent subject matter throughout Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought as the theory of knowledge created by a particular group to incorporate their standpoint and values based on their experience and beliefs. Collins argues that knowledge is frequently influenced by the politics of race and gender. She supports a common theme throughout the book that Black feminist thinkers are a single group consisting of individuals wanting to maintain their social theory, which “reflects the interests and standpoint of its creators” (Collins 269). Historically, what Black women know has not been considered knowledgeable because of the power relations and their control over who is believed in society and why. Collins looks into this subjugated epistemology and the validation process that must exist for a powerful group to be overcome in our society. African American women spent decades waiting for an epistemology that included their own beliefs until the arrival of Black feminist theory. This theory is a result of their collective treatment by political economies, as a segregated unit with a different ideology.

In her book, Collins discusses the differences between group knowledge and collective identity and its relation to epistemology. She makes a clear point to distinguish these two subjects and their relation to Black feminist theory. She argues that epistemologies are built upon experiences rather than learned positions, which is why many Black feminist thinkers support the theory based on their own knowledge and experiences. However, there is a particular strain in this standpoint. In discussing the common challenges, Collins says, “despite the fact that U.S. Black women face common challenges, this neither means that individual African-American women have all had the same experience nor that we agree on the significance of our experience” (Collins 29). These experiences, both similar and different from each other, have shaped how Black feminist thinkers view and understand the world. These individuals have shaped their claims based on their encounters and treatment while building this particular standpoint, which furthermore structures their knowledge. However, in order to convince others that Black feminist theory is justifiable, the convincing must come from a group other than Black females themselves who may have emotional or moral connections. This deals with the epistemology of the group, how their knowledge is conceptualized as “different”, and how individuality within Black feminist thinkers should cease to exist.

In order to influence empowerment, Black feminist thinkers have created their own way of thinking through dialectical and dialogical relationships. The dialectical relationship “link[s] oppression and activism [while] a dialogical relationship characterizes Black women’s collective experiences and group knowledge” (Collins 34). These particular types of knowledge influence Black feminists and their individual understanding of the knowledge surrounding their unique epistemology. They also pay attention to the ethics of caring and personal accountability and their impact on Black feminist theory.

The presence and importance of wisdom and knowledge is shown throughout Collins work, especially when she says, “living life as Black women requires wisdom because knowledge about the dynamics of intersecting oppressions has been essential to U.S. Black women’s survival” (Collins 275). She discusses the value of wisdom and how “being an academic and an intellectual are not necessarily the same thing” (Collins 19). The shared experience of oppression can lead to a source of familiar resistance. Collins makes a point that many Black women’s experiences cannot be solely measured by empirical means. It is based from the institutionalized racism they have faced from slavery to our contemporary system of inequality. These types of relationship are what form Black feminist theory and give Black women their own way of thinking to create knowledge.

 

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. Routledge, 2009. Print.

Tags: Emily · Group Three

Gender – a point of oppression in the matrix of domination- final

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought is centered on the idea of gender and gender differences because it is a study of black women’s feminism.  For Collins, the term “gender” has a specific role in the construction of black feminist thought. She puts forth the convincing argument that everyone has an individual standpoint on the world based on his or her specific place in the “matrix of domination”. Collins says; “U.S. black women encounter a distinctive set of social practices that accompany our particular history within a unique matrix of domination characterized by intersecting oppression.” (Collins, 26) What she means by this is that no two black women experience the exact same oppression but because all American black women share intersecting oppressions they can build a collective standpoint. The intersectionality of the matrix of domination implies that all of the different oppressions are linked to each other and build off each other. In the U.S. the different oppressions that can intersect to build even greater oppression are race, class, sexuality, citizenship, religion, and gender. A lower class black female is never thought of as being a woman alone without the other oppressions. For Collins and the construction of black feminist thought the two most important and disadvantaging oppressions that all black women share are race and gender and it is based on these intersecting oppressions that a collective group standpoint is built.

Collins brings up some important distinctions between what it means to be white and female versus black and female and notes that gender construction is different for different races. Historically black women have never been able to split the spheres of their public and private lives because starting during slavery they have had a history of their privacy being violated. This poses a problem for black women and their gender ideology because “the public/private binary separating the family households from paid labor market is fundamental in explaining U.S. gender ideology.” (Collins, 53) It is generally assumed in our society “that real men work and real women take care of families.” (Collins, 53) This causes black women to be thought of as less feminine because they have to work outside their homes and are often the primary breadwinners for their families making their construction of the female gender different. “Framed through this prism of an imagined traditional family ideal, U.S. Black women’s experience and those of other women of color are typically deemed deficient.” (Collins, 53) What Collins is getting at is that of Black women’s sense of the female gender is forced to be constructed differently because of their shared intersecting oppressions of race and gender. This construction of what it means to be a black female is widely accepted and perpetuated by controlling images of black women that were created and are still used by the media to create a completely hegemonic cultural view of black women.

For Collins what the black female gender is conceptualized as comes from a historic inability to split the public and private sphere and is perpetuated by the medias controlling images. This creates a shared intersection of oppression for all black women that puts them in a unique standpoint in the matrix of domination. Black feminists have had a long history of resisting the power the matrix of domination creates against them. It is believed that the only way to get rid of the oppressions of the matrix of domination is to transform the unjust social institutions that that perpetuate the different oppressions. Maybe a start could be to remove the controlling images that help perpetuate the difference of black female vs. white female from the media, one of our unjust social institutions.

Patricia Hill Collins (2008) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge

-Violet Batcha

Tags: Group Three · Violet

Power by Maddy Lavelle

September 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

In Patricia Hill Collins’ piece, Black Feminist Thought she discusses the role of power in relation to Black feminism in today’s world. In Chapter 12 she introduces two approaches to power, the dialectical approach and the individual approach. Collins also presents the four domains of power that any matrix of domination is organized with, and how these approaches and domains influence Black feminism of today’s’ society.

The first approach to power is the dialectical approach links oppression and activism together, when groups that have more power than others use their power to oppress institutions with less power than them. The change that results from this approach comes from people’s ability and freedom to do so. (292) The dialectical approach emphasizes the significance of knowledge in developing self-defined, group-based standpoints that, in turn, can foster the type of group solidarity necessary for resisting oppressions.” (293) The other approach Hill Collins’ describes is the individual approach. This approach is an “intangible entity that circulates within a particular matrix of domination and to which individuals stand in varying relationships.” (292) This emphasizes how individuals’ subjectivity influences their actions within various matrixes of domination. As each Black woman changes her ideas and viewpoints, the shape of power also changes with her. Over time the “individual self-definitions and behaviors shift in tandem with a changed consciousness concerning everyday lived experiences” which exemplifies the individual approach. (293) Together these two approaches work to help create a well-rounded sense of Black women’s identities.

The first domain of power is structural; it involves how social institutions are organized overtime to subordinate Black women. For example, the schools and education system, housing and media have worked as structural institutions to belittle Black women and keep them at a disadvantage. “These overlapping social institutions have relied on multiple forms of segregation by race, class, and gender to produce these unjust results.” (295) These structural institutions have worked to oppress Black women and prevent social change. Hill Collins uses the example of life post World War II, and how African American women got jobs and obtained positions that they otherwise would not have been able to. On the flip side, the organizations and companies who hired these women sought out new ways to suppress them. (299)

The second domain is disciplinary, which means when laws force schools, industries, hospitals and banks to stop discriminating against Black women, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the organizations will follow through. “The disciplinary domain of power has increased in importance with the growing significance of bureaucracy as a mode of modern social organization.” (299) This has resulted in bureaucracy controlling the race, and gender of these organizations to prevent social change that they feel is unacceptable. So, even though laws may order institutions to stop discriminating, the buercratics of those industries will find ways around it so they can continue their mission.

The hegemonic domain of power is the third domain Collins’ touches upon, and she explains that the “hegemonic” ideology of the dominant class is what is important and is what is put forth as the “right thing.”  This being said, the hegemonic ideology is consistent with white males, and looks to oppress anyone or anything this is unlike them. This belief system makes it impossible for Black women to rise above and move up socially.

The final domain of power Collins’ puts forth is the interpersonal domain. This domain shows that intersecting oppressions has victimized African-American women and that by portraying them as passive victims creates the idea that they can’t rise above their current situation. But on the other hand, painting them as strong women shows people that they can handle what is being thrown their way, which results in others continuing to oppress them.

In conclusion, the two approaches that Collins’ highlights, the dialectical and the individual, show her audience how Black women organize their consciousness and different views of their empowerment as Black females. Also, the four domains of power each matrix of domination is organized with are seen as interconnected categories. These approaches and domains show the complexity of Black feminine power and how over time it can shift and transform into a new entity depending on the society and culture that influences the matrixes of domination

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The Solution(take 2)-Jillian

September 21st, 2011 · No Comments

According to Patricia Hill Collins, any oppressed group such as black women have a common goal they want empowerment. In order to achieve their solution black women must rethink feminism as a social justice project with a complex notion of empowerment through the use of knowledge.  Hill Collins notes that there is no clear answer to the issue regarding black women’s oppression. In Black Feminist Thought, Collins states that our society keeps reinforcing and reaffirming highly problematic ideologies that we soon come to see them as natural. She believes that through self-definition and recognition, black women can begin deconstruct the normative ideologies that can then spark change within social institutions. “Historically, U.S. Black women’s activism demonstrates that becoming empowered requires more than changing the consciousness of the individual black women via black community development strategies” (Collins p 291).  In saying this Collins believes that empowerment is not enough to evoke change. Since we are all multipli- positioned it is crucial that black women redefine themselves and challenge unjust social practices.

“As each individual African-American woman changes her ideas and actions, so does the overall shape of power itself change. In the absence of Black feminist thought and other comparable oppositional knowledges, these micro-changes may remain invisible to individual women. Yet collectively, they can have a profound impact” (Collins, 293). As we read in Black Feminist Thought, black women need to focus on individual change before they can change as a whole. The only way in which an oppressed group can change is through collective action but in order for collection action to happen, individual empowerment must occur first. As noted by Hill Collins, when black women focus on the individual change it helps to shape change on a collective front. “Dialectic approaches emphasize the significance of knowledge in developing self-defined, group-based standpoints that, in turn, can foster group solidarity necessary for resisting oppressions” (Collins 293). Without resistance black women will be forced to remain at the bottom of the hegemonic domain. The way in which black women can become empowered is through new knowledge about their experiences (Collins p 292).  In Black Feminist Thought, Hill Collins believes that if black women do not understand the history of their experiences how can they expect to move forward. Change ultimately can only come from a unified front, but that front has to start with individual empowerment.

 

Reference:

 

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics, 2009.

 

Tags: Group Three · Jillian

The Solution- Jillian

September 21st, 2011 · No Comments

According to Patricia Hill Collins, any oppressed group such as black women have a common goal they want empowerment. In order to achieve this goal black women must rethink feminism as a social justice project with a complex notion of empowerment. As discussed in Black Feminist Thought, this can be accomplished by analyzing the domains of power.

The four domains of power include, structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal. “Structural domain of power encompasses how social institutions are organized to reproduce Black women’s subordination over time” (Collins p 295). These institutions have become conditioned to oppress black women for decades; everyday ideologies are taking for granted because we believe they are natural. Hill Collins states, “structural forms of injustice that permeate the entire society yield only grudgingly to change” (Collins p 296).  What she means by this is even though black women have made many advancements, discrimination and oppression has not gone away just the face of it has change with the time. The second domain of power is disciplinary which manages within organizations. As we read in Black Feminist Thought, “disciplinary domain of power has increased in importance with the growing significance of bureaucracy as a mode of modern social organization” (Collins p 299). This form of power allows for the institutions to reproduce oppressions as well as mask their effects. According to Collins, she believes that resistance from black women within these bureaucracies is the main strategy for changing this domain (Collins p 300).  Hegemonic power is the third domain covered in Black Feminist Thought. “Hegemonic domain of power deals with ideologies, culture, and consciousness” (Collins p 302). In order for the dominant groups to remain in power they create social stereotypes and ideologies about an oppressed group, which are then reinforced by popular media and help to legitimize the dominant groups rule. Hill Collins states that black women need to focus on self-definition and reclaiming the “power of the mind” as an important way of demonstrating their resistance (Collins p 304). The fourth and final power of domain is the interpersonal. Interpersonal domain of power gives into the dominant groups hegemonic ideologies and makes the oppressed groups forget their own culture and ways of knowing (Collins p 306). As we read in Black Feminist Thought, black women and oppressed groups need to focus on individual change before they can change as a whole. The only way in which an oppressed group can change is through collective action but in order for collection action to happen, individual empowerment must occur first.

 

 

Tags: Group Three · Jillian

Knowledge by Emily Marvin

September 21st, 2011 · No Comments

Epistemology is a consistent subject matter throughout Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought. Collins argues that knowledge is frequently influenced by the politics of race and gender. She supports a common theme throughout the book that Black feminist thinkers are alone in maintaining their social theory, which “reflects the interests and standpoint of its creators” (Collins 269). Historically, what Black women know has not been considered knowledgeable because of the power relations and their control over who is believed in society and why. Collins looks into the subjugated epistemology and the validation process that must exist for a powerful group to be overcome in our society. African American women spent decades waiting for an epistemology that included their own beliefs until the arrival of Black feminist theory.

In her book, Collins discusses the differences between group knowledge and collective identity and its relation to epistemology. She makes a clear point to distinguish these two subjects and their relation to Black feminist theory. She argues that epistemologies are built upon experiences rather than learned positions, which is why many Black feminist thinkers support the theory based on their own knowledge and experiences. However, there is a particular strain in this standpoint. In discussing the common challenges, Collins says, “despite the fact that U.S. Black women face common challenges, this neither means that individual African-American women have all had the same experience nor that we agree on the significance of our experience” (Collins 29). However, in order to convince others that Black feminist theory is justifiable, the convincing must come from a group other than Black females themselves who may have emotional or moral connections.

In order to influence empowerment, Black feminist thinkers have created their own way of thinking through dialectical and dialogical relationships. The dialectical relationship “link[s] oppression and activism [while] a dialogical relationship characterizes Black women’s collective experiences and group knowledge” (Collins 34). These particular types of knowledge influence Black feminists and their individual understanding of the knowledge surrounding their unique epistemology. They also pay attention to the ethics of caring and personal accountability and their impact on Black feminist theory.

The presence and importance of wisdom and knowledge is shown throughout Collins work, especially when she says, “living life as Black women requires wisdom because knowledge about the dynamics of intersecting oppressions has been essential to U.S. Black women’s survival” (Collins 275). The shared experience of oppression can lead to a source of familiar resistance. Collins makes a point that many Black women’s experiences cannot be solely measured by empirical means. It is based from the institutionalized racism they have faced from slavery to our contemporary system of inequality. These types of relationship are what form Black feminist theory and give Black women their own way of thinking to create knowledge.

 

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. Routledge, 2009. Print.

Tags: Emily · Group Three