Blogging the Theoretical

Feminism without Borders Repost

October 12, 2011 · No Comments

Feminism without Borders Repost by Star-Quana Jackson


This blog post will talk about how aspects of our everyday life are impacted especially by gender and racial ideologies. We have come to learn that there isn’t one singular form of feminism, and in this blog I will discuss feminism through the lenses of Chandra Mohanty. Mohanty’s vision of feminism includes; the importance of location (how where we are from or reside shapes our understanding of the world) and border crossing; the fact that there is no singular experience of being woman (third world or otherwise). Mohanty also emphasizes capitalism as the common theme feminists should focus on and she critiques of the changing nature of higher education.

Gender and race is even more crucial when you are from a third country living in the United States. You are an alien, a foreigner, an immigrant and will always be one no matter how long you reside here. Questions always seem to arise as to when you are “going home”.  Mohanty then argues can anyone particularly third world women even have a home and if so, where is it? Where do they belong? Is home where you were born, or is home where you reside? “Home, community, and identity all fit somewhere between the histories of and experiences we inherit and the political choices we make through alliances, solidarities and friendships” (Feminism without Borders136). Mohanty argues that where you are and who you are (genealogy and location) play a vital role in what people think of you as. She fought this very battle herself and still does today. Dependent upon where she lived in the United States she was associated with being Black, Native, and even Latina From her experiences, Mohanty learns that knowledge is not just what is produced in an education setting but that learning is also experiential.  Arising from her experiences also came the understanding of the structure of the United States. She argues that the formations of genealogies are necessary, but fluid and through the formation of your own genealogy we produce knowledge on ourselves and others. Race plays an important role in how one is perceived in society and most importantly the “power” that one could achieve (attain) in his or her life time.

Chandra Mohanty would argue that the economic system that we live in today called capitalism is to blame for the many false ideologies that came about and that we still live in today. Capitalism is all about money and the constant accumulation of wealth. Cheaper labor plus racism equals the “Other” (formed from ideologies) which equals profit. Why do you think woman get stuck doing the worst jobs? Why are there woman they work 18 hours or more in a factory. Not because their hands are smaller and better fit to use the machines. It is because of these so called gender ideologies that are in place and because women are taught at an early age to be subordinate to men. Most women have a fear of men and that is why it is ideal to have women working in those factories or in domesticated jobs because the men know these women are too afraid to stand up for themselves or to revolt. Do you not find it strange that only men are the supervisors of these factories?  Due to the fact that an ideology of gendered labor exists for third world women it has often times worked to exclude the definition of what they are doing as labor and thus make it harder to organize. Work is defined within a hetero-normative, patriarchal structure and women’s work is given a feminine value which allows it to be degraded by a system that locates power and agency within the masculine realm (Feminism without Borders).

Due to the capitalist economy; the material, cultural, and political effects of the processes of domination and exploitation that sustain what is called the new world order are devastating for the vast majority of people in the world most especially for impoverished and Third World women (Feminism without Borders 146). Women’s labor has always been central to the development, consolidation, and reproduction in the U.S. and elsewhere and women of different races, ethnicities, and social classes have profoundly different but interconnected experiences of work in the economic development from 19th century economic and social practices (Feminism without Borders 147). Third World women need to be valued as not only workers but as individuals so they can make demands and receive monetary compensation which would then support their independence and legitimize their role within the work space. The world has been divided into two groups in the capitalist economy and that is consumers and producers. The values, power and meanings attached to being either a consumer or a producer/worker vary enormously on where and who we happen to be in an unequal global system.  In order for any of this to change we need to have self-empowerment and understanding of the struggles not only of the individual self but of women as a collective (whole). There needs to be a crossing of borders; engagement in a particular society not practical assumption of what is taking place through the lenses of a Western world woman or man.

Categories: Chandra Mohanty · Group Three · Star

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