Blogging the Theoretical

Mohanty and Feminism

October 7, 2011 · 4 Comments

Within her book, Mohanty chooses to express and highlight some problems in which she finds crucial. She argues that the problematic point is that women in third world countries are misrepresented because of the “Third world difference”. She goes onto to explain the context behind difference and that they rely on the relationship between being a ‘woman’ and ‘women’. Being a woman is the cultural and ideological composite which is constructed through the representations of the discourse. When it comes to women, they are real, historical subjects. These images are constructed but carried through the Western discourse. However, these distinctive representations of woman and women that shape them in society are not only the problem. The problem is that women, especially ‘third world women’, are seen as a powerless group, often victimized by particular socioeconomic systems. These examples can be seen in the ways women are represented in the workforce and how they are provided with educational opportunities.

Women have been always been in the workforce but “the fact of being women with particular racial, ethnic, cultural, sexual, and geographical histories has everything to do with our definitions and identities as workers” (142). This given due to the fact that            even though the power gap division that stands between women and men in these ‘third world countries’ is centralized, there is still a domination and exploitation in terms of race and gender. “Work becomes an extension of familial roles and loyalties and draws upon cultural and ethnic/racial ideologies of womanhood, domesticity, and entrepreneurship to consolidate patriarchal dependencies” (159); women’s identity as workers is secondary to their familial roles. This reflects the displayal of women as they concentrate more on domestic, housewife roles that are supposed to benefit the family and not really them. It shows how there is still an oppression of choice for the ‘Third World woman’ who has to reflect two roles, worker and housewife, instead of one. The role in society for ‘Third World women’ is to stay under the subordination of men and masculinity because the need for them to work doesn’t necessarily create their identity. It is the “identity of women as housewives, wives, and mothers that is assumed to provide the basis for women’s survival and growth” (160).

Another factor that plays a role in the feminist outlook is the issue of educational opportunity. With the constant growth of industries and the attempts to maintain poverty within a certain level, it is the reason behind many controversial issues that have affected those who are least opportunistic. “If American higher education is in the process of undergoing a fundamental restructuring such that yet again it is women and people of color who are at risk…” (186). This economic cycle of limiting opportunities for those who are less likely to surpass their class status has circulated the mainstream economic system for quite a while. If we compare the education accessible in ‘Third World’ countries to the educational opportunities sustained in the U.S today, once can notion that it is still women and people of color who are less likely to attend prestigious schools where they can get a ‘well balanced supplemental education’ or any education for that matter.

These forms of oppression make us question whether or not the evolution of women oppression has surpassed throughout geographical locations. Do women of ‘Third World’ countries and the U.S. differ? Are they not both oppressed and limited to opportunities that are more available to men and the dominate norm? These limitations reflected onto women due to certain limitations, enables the construction of ideologies that enable us to keep considering possibilities outside of the norm and helps us challenge them.

Categories: Group Two · Jennifer R

4 responses so far ↓

  •   bphess09 // Oct 8th 2011 at 10:54 am


    Nice post! Your opening paragraph centralized around the identity of “women” in comparison to “woman” was well done. Continue to develop that idea with more textual support because I really like the direction you’re going as you start the preceding paragraph further describing the identity of Third World women through the lens of the working woman.

    Looking towards your next post I would be interested to see if you can incorporate the identity of transnational feminism (start to scratch the surface in your last paragraph!)Lastly, make sure at the beginning to state the name of Mohanty’s book because an outside reader would have no idea what “her book” was. I think you have a really nice basis and would just like you to consider a few things when revising your next post, good work!


  •   emseav09 // Oct 8th 2011 at 9:03 pm


    Always a pleasure reading your posts. Your introductory paragraph is a great way to introduce what you are saying. It did a great job of luring me in to what you are going to say.

    I really enjoyed what you were saying about the women having two roles of being a worker and a housewife. I think you pose a great argument, but would be interested to see how you could connect what Mohanty is saying about these duel roles of third world women and tying it back to how men and women are seen in these societies.

    Overall great groundwork and I would like to see you expand on your ideas a bit and add textual support to further explain your amazing points!

    Great Job!!


  •   kaasel09 // Oct 9th 2011 at 9:39 pm

    This is a great post about the role of feminism in rewriting controlling images of women in the Third World. I thought you picked excellent quotes in your paragraph concerning women in the workforce, You also provide a really interesting discussion of the difference between being defined as “women” or “woman,” but I think you can tease this out even further to make your analysis stronger. Additionally, I might add something in closing about Mohanty’s plan for solidarity across feminist borders.
    Hope this helps!

  •   ogmcma08 // Oct 9th 2011 at 11:27 pm


    Your opening paragraph is excellent, and I really enoyed your disucssion of the differing definitions of woman vs. Women. You have a nice transition into your discussion of women in the workforce, but I think you could expand your argument with some examples (Possible of the lace workers, and their situated identities).

    In addition, I think you could expand your discussion of restrictions of a changing higher education. You could include education statistics of third world women with women here, which would help beef up your argument.

    Also you raise some very good questions at the end, and they give a nice ending to your thoughts!

    Good job


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