Blogging the Theoretical

Feminism- Chandra Talapade Mohanty

October 12, 2011 · No Comments

Chandra Talapade Mohanty says that there’s an imagined community in which Third world women lie. This is convenient because it avoids the idea of Third World struggles, “Suggesting political rather than biological, or cultural bases for alliance” (Mohanty, 46). She explains that, the boundaries are not limited for these concepts and a coalition or union, a “community” exists.  Mohanty explains that gender is not singular. That it has been described as a domestic male/ female institution, but this is not true across all race and class. Institutions such as politics’ and police won’t stand in the way of what may be a domestic situation for a middle-class white couple, but this is not so for a poor African-American woman.

It is not gender that declares the lack of “Third World” feminism, but the distinct distance between the woman of color to the white man and the closeness of the white woman to the white man. It has been a privilege for the white woman in this relation when pertaining to representation in society. Western feminism has been developed off of this asis explaining why women of western countries cannot represent “Third World” women in a proper way without the lack of relation, experience, and historical context.

“The argument then is about a process of gender and race domination, rather than the content of “Third World.” Making Third World women workers visible in this gender, race, and class formation involves engaging a capitalist script of subordination and exploitation. But it also leads to thinking about the possibilities of emancipatory action on the basis of the reconceptualization of “Third World women” as agents rather than victims.” (Mohanty, 143)

Chandra Talapade Mohanty presents that we need to remove discourses presenting “third world” women workers as victims, and empower them with a sense of agency that legitimizes the vital role they play in local and
global economies. Capitalism should be the common theme around which feminists organize. The language of “progress” and “development” are assumed to “naturally” accompany the triumphal rise of global capitalism. We need new
world order and by assuming that these discourses automatically go along with
change in society will not create opportunity and change. Mohanty argues for a
socialist future that will deconstruct notions of “otherness” as defined by a
norm that perpetuates the inequalities of a capitalist system. Mobilization,
organization, and a feminist consciousness that supports Transnationality is
necessary for this transformation.

“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.”( Mohanty, 168).

Allow women power over their own lives, agency is the result of self-definition. Commonality can provide a way of “reading” and understanding the world though the lenses of class, race, and gender inequalities. This will foster a transnational feminist movement that moves away from the universality of experience and toward an acknowledgement of history, agency, and commonality (but commonality as a medium for solidarity); Also, to value women workers as individuals, so that they can make demands and receive monetary compensation. This will support their independence and legitimize their role within workspaces. “Third World” women shouldn’t be singular in society and the world of feminism, but recognized as an independent and unique equal contributor to what we understand feminism to be as a whole.


Mohanty, Chandra Talapade. Feminism Without Borders:
Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
.Durham: Duke University Press,
2003. Print.

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