Blogging the Theoretical

Gender – a point of oppression in the matrix of domination

September 16, 2011 · 2 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. In the U.S. the different oppressions that can intersect to build even greater oppression are race, class, sexuality, citizenship, religion, and gender. 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.

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

-Violet Batcha

Categories: Group Three · Patricia Hill Collins · Violet

2 responses so far ↓

  •   esmarv09 // Sep 18th 2011 at 9:56 pm

    The introduction and immediate inclusion of the matrix of domination were great. I thought you did a great job of using quotes and specific examples from the reading. I would see if you could find specific examples from other parts of the reading as well (only because the majority of your quotes were from the same page) but if those support your argument the best, then stick with them.

    I also wish that you had expanded on the ending a bit more- it seemed abrupt.. maybe try bringing the matrix of domination back into it?? (This might be good because it is a part of your title and not specifically mentioned after the beginning).

    Overall, I thought it was really well written and you made a clear point- good job!

  •   sjack10 // Sep 18th 2011 at 11:04 pm

    This is my second time reading this and I think that overall, this is beautifully written. However, in your conclusion paragraph the last few sentences confused me, I felt like you were trying to say something but were lost for the right words which makes the last sentence unclear. I also think that you should include more of the matrix of domination towards the conclusion as to wrap up your thoughts. Overall, it was a very easy read and you were very clear and precise.

    Excellent Job!

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