Under Western Eyes

male dominated culture comic

Well, after much re-reading and trying to hack through the extensive vocabulary used by Mohanty, I think I’ve got the just of it.

In this piece, Mohanty is attempting to criticize hegemonic feminist discourse for the assumption and therefore creation of a monolithic “third world woman”.  She is arguing that the use of monolithic terms and classifications by Western feminists creates an image of the “Third World woman” as “.. ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family-oriented, victimized, etc.” thus implicitly representing themselves as “.. educated, as modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities and the freedom to make their own decisions.” Mohanty focuses on the textual strategies that many feminist writers use that end up “Othering” anyone who is non-Western (as well as implicitly codifying themselves as Western).

This codification of Western and Third World women in feminist discourse totally ignores the historical, sociological context of women in both regions as well as ignores issues such as class, race, religion, and daily material practices.  Homogenization of these issues creates a false sense of commonality of struggle, oppression, and interests among all women globally, as well as perpetuating Western (feminist) hegemony.

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This piece left me thinking about Western privilege and language.  I honestly hadn’t really ever thought about Western scholarly and academic hegemony in terms of what is published, read, reviewed, and considered valuable in feminist discourse.  I also had never thought about the necessity of an extremely careful and in-depth nature of analyses of political, economic, cultural, religious systems present when studying people from non-Western societies.  It is too easy to ignore the Western privilege and make blanket statements about societies that perpetuate dominance and superiority.  I think that more scholars and academics should be called out when they make general statements such as some of the ones Mohanty critiques.

For example, Mohanty cites a quote from feminist Maria Cutrufelli’s book Women of Africa: Roots of Oppression, “My analysis will start by stating that all African women are politically and economically dependent” (Cutrufelli 1983, 13) and “Nevertheless, either overtly or covertly, prostitution is still the main if not the only source of work for African women” (Cutrufelli 1983, 33).  The main problem here is that Cutrufelli uses “women of Africa” as a group characterized by dependency and powerlessness. Because “women of Africa” is seen as a group who are generally dependent and oppressed, “analysis of specific historical differences becomes impossible, because reality is always apparently structured by divisions … the victims and the oppressors.”

I didn’t totally understand Mohanty’s descriptions of types of analyses, but I think her point is that when writing, analyzing, discussing, etc. about the “Other” (in this case, Third World women but this is also including a Third World woman writing about Western women or any combination of author/subject), Western feminists must be very careful in analyzing all of the institutions and systems that are present, to provide an accurate and “fair” context, and account for the implications of these systems.

I thought it was interesting that the piece is named “Under Western Eyes” .. this in itself implies that the Third World is below the Western world.  Though, I am sure Mohanty was aware of this when she titled it.

I think that privilege in all it’s forms (white, middle class, Western, Christian, thin, male, etc.) is something that all of us take for granted in some way, shape or form at some point, and it takes a lot of energy and courage to acknowledge.  As a feminist academic who writes scholarly articles, I think that taking in to consideration and implementing what Mohanty has presented is not only responsible, but admirable and has potential to change feminist discourse in a very positive way if adopted on a wider scale.

 

Julia H

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The End of Marriage

Sex and the CityAnne Hathaway

When I first dove into the article “Gage Relations: The End of Marriage” I was pretty sceptical about what I could find. Not being one to really pay attention to LGBT affairs, I do however find myself to be a supporter of gay marriage but through the reading of the said article, I found myself putting on a different pair of “lenses” and reaching a conclusion that I found to be quite to the contrary of what I thought and believed prior. As I mentioned before, I would be lying if told you that I spend a lot of time thinking in great detail about, or to go even further advocating for LGBT rights, but I do however think critically about the main theme of the article, that being marriage. I have always held a critical eye over marriage and the article really fuelled a new and alternative viewpoint about marriage that changed my opinion about whether or not gay marriage is the best solution for individuals to strive for.
At first I found it extremely strange that the author as well as many members of the LGBT community were grumpy about the notion of gay marriage. I figured that the majority would be all for the movement, but I was wrong. I found more and more through my reading that the argument was solely based around attaining freedom of love rather than marriage. This idea wasn’t completely novel to me considering I have never been the kind of girl to fantasise about the perfect wedding, but rather spent my time daydreaming about the ideal partner. This was the key to the articles argument- the distinction between a wedding/marriage and love. The fundamental difference between a wedding/marriage and love is that the first is a cultural and socially constructed institution, and the second is a basic human emotion. It is so common to equate the two together, but the article works to destruct the connection between them as they are far from the same.
From what I can understand, the whole basis of LGBT movements to reach equality, and I fully support that. We are all human beings and I believe strongly that we deserve equal rights and freedoms. However, I agree fully also with the article’s conclusion that the present version of marriage isn’t something LGBT individuals should be lining up to participate in because it is indeed flawed. The main point of the whole article is to expose what is wrong with marriage, and it is a very long list.
Marriage is an institution that is far more exclusive than inclusive, which is all too clear, and is problematic in the sense that it has been sensationalized into something that is the core, one and only life defining moment for all people. It has been moulded to be perceived as the gateway access to adequate healthcare, tax breaks, and putting material aspects behind us, as the only way to attain true happiness and success. It has been drilled into us that marriage has to be part of the normative timeline of our lives and that it is absolutely necessary, but this is wrong. The fact is, marriage (including the wedding) is a very tired cliché. We must work to exceed the marriage model that is proven to be far too simplistic and conditional to suit every individual’s needs. It is only valued if it fits certain criteria of race, class, and sexual orientation. Marriage is yet another forced agenda. Although we (including LGBT people) seek to be incorporated into pre-existing institutions such as marriage, the justice issues that need to be resolved are much more complicated that what the folds of marriage have to offer. “When gay people get married, keep in mind that they may well extend the institution of marriage but they do not change it. The institution is instable and like the wedding, marriage is overpriced, overvalued, overestimated, and maybe soon, simply over.” So here the institution of marriage stands, naked and revealed, replete with all of its disappointments and coercive aspects, and yes despite it all, we all still run open armed towards it. The point is that we all need to stop running to enter into the “mayhem and mishap of holy matrimony”. The creation of novel and all inclusive forms of human interactions is the solution. We are in great need of total and complete transformation.
And while it is great that Lady Gaga alongside many other celebrities support and advocate for LGBT affairs especially gay marriage, actions and words are two very different things, as words are ordinary yet what a person chooses to actually DO about something is what is extraordinary. Take Dory (played by the fabulous Ellen DeGeneres) from finding Nemo for example, as explored in the article. She literally “forgets about family, marriage, becoming a mother, and in the process opens herself up to a new way of being. I suggest we do the same”. The future of marriage, if it is continued on as is will come to an abrupt and well-deserved end.

– Brittany Marshall (110199)

Compulsory Heterosexuality

Reading Adrienne Richs compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence really got me thinking. I have never thought of heterosexuality as compulsory, nor have I ever thought that lesbian existence was a “direct or indirect attack on male right of access to women.” (292).  I guess I’ve just never really questioned why some women are attracted to men and some women are attracted to other women, I see nothing wrong with either choice. I think that at a young age girls are taught to like boys and boys to like girls, and that’s why “coming out of the closet” is so hard for people because it is seen as going against what is normal.

Adrienne Rich argues that “heterosexuality has been subliminally and forcibly imposed on women.” (294)  She says that our male dominated society insists on compulsory heterosexuality because men benefit from male-female relationships. I found that very interesting, saying that the way that our cultural assumptions about sexual identity erase lesbian and any non-heterosexual, sexual identity and perceive anything other than heterosexuality as not right.

Rich suggests that the idea of compulsory heterosexuality keeps women from exploring their sexual and emotional desires because the traditional relationships and marriages are a male and a female. She says that heterosexuality is often considered what women want, but it might actually be that our society is forcing these views and decisions on us.

On another note, compulsory heterosexuality punishes those who do not comply with it. This makes same-sex relationships disapproved and often, criminalized. yes criminalized, just for wanting to have a relationship with someone of the same sex! I think that’s crazy.  Although many places are starting to legalize same sex marriages we still have a long way to go. Furthermore Rich says that “lesbian existence is potentially liberating for all women”. We need to take control over the institution of heterosexuality and give women the power to determine the meaning and place of sexuality in their lives.

Making it Perfectly Queer

I’ve admittedly only recently become interested in gender identity and sexuality politics, and by “recently” I mean “within the past year or so.” Growing up, I was taught that queer was a slur that I was never to use, but during the aforementioned past year or so I’ve met plenty of people who apply the word queer to themselves in place of a more concrete label. As a result, I’ve grown more comfortable with the word and no longer view it as an attack – although of course if someone is bothered by it, I’d understand completely and would refrain from using it in their presence. It implies inclusion and evolution, and if you’re young and not entirely certain of your identity yet, that inclusiveness can be incredibly comforting.

(Plus, it’s a lot easier to say “I’m queer” than “I’m a cisgendered panromantic asexual” because the majority of the population has no idea what those words even mean and likes to make jokes about asexual reproduction. Why, even as I type this, the words cisgendered and panromantic have little red squiggly lines under them and my computer is trying to tell me that I must actually mean engendered and unromantic. No, computer, that’s not what I’m trying to type. Stop being ignorant.)

Lisa Duggan’s argument is essentially that it’s problematic to try and force a unitary alternative identity – for example, if you’re not heterosexual, you must be homosexual, and that’s that. This approach doesn’t leave much room for the fluidity of identity that tends to come into play in actual practice, as sexuality can vary greatly and it’s not uncommon for someone to experiment and change their minds with time. To limit alternative identities to “gay and lesbian” as though those are the only possible ways one might not fit into societal norms isn’t very progressive. Especially if you’re trying to win people to your cause and encourage them to become politically active, the way Duggan describes the original purpose of “outing” to be.

Reading about outing was especially troubling and it was a relief to read that the paper the tactic originated in is now defunct. I didn’t look into it, but I’m going to pretend that it’s defunct specifically because someone called them out on what a terrible idea that is. Aside from the fact that outing someone could potentially be incredibly damaging to a their personal or professional life, it’s also presumptuous to assume that you know someone enough to dictate their identity for them. After all, a woman who loves a woman isn’t necessarily a lesbian. Maybe she’s bi and only happens to be dating a woman for now. Hell, maybe she’s homoromantic and just doesn’t like the implication of sexuality that “lesbian” carries. There’s no way to know for sure and it’s not your place to say.

Like Duggan says, “any gay politics based on the primacy of sexual identity defined as unitary and ‘essential,’ residing clearly, intelligibly, and unalterably in the body or psyche, and fixing desire in a gendered direction, ultimately represents the view from the subject position ‘twentieth-century Western white gay male.'” I won’t pretend to fully understand the politics behind this correlation, but I also won’t pretend that it isn’t true. For whatever reason, the majority of people I’ve met who seem to believe that you can either be gay or straight and that it’s impossible to vary or be somewhere in-between have been cisgendered white men. That’s an incredibly limited viewpoint and we need to move past that if we want to make any sort of progress when it comes to queer rights. We need to start looking at it from the perspectives of women, both cis and trans, as well as transmen and everything else because to try and list a bunch of labels would kind of go against the entire point of my blog post here.

Like I said before, identity is fluid and there are infinite variations. That’s why I like the word queer. It leaves room for the malleability or even non-existence of desire and gender and enables you to explore and come to your own conclusions at your own pace. It doesn’t try and tell you that you have to fit into some random, overly-specific category to be involved, it simply says “you’re allowed to be whoever you want to be, and if you want to be something else later on, that’s okay too.” And I think I’ve now gone over the recommended word limit so I’ll stop now.

– Shaylyn

Judged on What You Want!

It seems like everyone already pretty much said the basics of week 8. In my opinion everyone is judged no matter what you do. You have an unplanned pregnancy your a slut, a whore..you name it a girls been called it. If you are having a baby your being told to stay home, he’s keeping you home so you don’t go out..or your whipped..most common thing I hear these days are its for the money. You don’t necessarily have to a slut to get an abortion and you don’t necessarily have to be with a partner to get inseminated you can just want a baby. That is like saying you can’t have sex ever its a huge mistake, meanwhile everyone and everybody is doing it. Women get raped they get pregnant they want an abortion because some women want a baby with a man of their choice and other women don’t want to destroy a child’s life. Therefore abortions aren’t for sluts.

Personally, what ever makes you happy and feel good about yourself then it shouldn’t matter what anyone has to say about a choice you made about your body. Whether its having an unplanned pregnancy or getting inseminated.

I know quite a bit of people who can’t have kids and cant afford procedures to be able to have a baby and are currently on a waiting list for adoption. Makes you wonder why girls get abortions on a daily basis. Not me. Sex is a totally normal thing and so are mistakes along with choices. If you chose to have sex and make a baby then why not go to a doctor and get inseminated? your still able to get pregnant.

Political views disgrace everyone and deprives them of their right to do what they want to do. Whether its making an abortion illegal or raising the price of wanting to bear a child. The government has so much to say and they have never really been in anyone else’s life or even heard of it. So much possibilities and so little choices.

Anyway, point being your going to be judged on what you want to do with your body…whatever makes you feel good about something do it, why care what anyone else has to think? No one has the right to tell you anything regarding your personal self or choice…by all means.

-Lacy

COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY AND LESBIAN EXISTENCE

There are some circumstances in which you might find yourself ; where there is no body to talk with, to confide in. But guess what?? you may find answers and overcome your personal obstacles. This book of ADRIENNE RICH is writing to solve social personal problems in the world and the principle of life as feminists.

Heterosexuality, is according to Rich a violent political institution in which male’s right, physical, economical and emotional access  to women. Women should direct their energies to women rather than men, and portrays lesbianism as an extension of feminism. She is making her point of  view clear to women that they should not depend on men and understand the meaning of lesbian experience. In order to gain this physical, economical, and emotional access to women, Rich lays a framework developed by KATHLEEN GOUGH who listed eight characteristics of male power, dominance in the contemporary societies such as: denying women their own sexuality, forcing male sexuality upon women, exploiting their labor to control, have control over their children, confinement, male transaction, cramp women’s creativeness, men withholding knowledge which shows that the society has forgotten to include women in both public or private spheres. It is clear that these characteristics show how the denial of sexuality for women is a means to control and suppress any transition, creativeness, and economic advancement of women. she argues again that if women are neglected, denied or though less it hundred per cent responsible although, they find heterosexuality imposed on them. They no choice than to manage. Rich is proposing to all the women that if they find it really difficult to choose between heterosexuality and lesbian existence, let them separate first of all from men and engage themselves in lesbian relationships because the opinion she has on compulsory heterosexuality is that it denies women of their own sexuality and comfortability in exploring their bodies and those of others as if it is writing somewhere that only men can satisfy them!!

In my own understanding, power is meant to dominate over nature not over human beings. Therefore, women should rise and make their choices in order to be important in the society. After all, they have the power to control men. we must make them understand that we are all equal and have the same right.

Chioma

Angela Davis and Sterilization by Amy Johnson

Having yourself permanently sterilized by your own personal choice is one thing, but having your chance of bearing children ripped away from you to help cut down on population size and the amount of “unfit” individuals is quite another. When I read Angela Davis: Reproductive Rights I think the only word that I could use to describe it that would be remotely appropriate for the content would have to be MORTIFYING! I don’t understand how anyone in their right mind could justify taking away someone’s ability to bear a child all because you want to cut down on the population a little. Like seriously WTF!?!?
In this article Angela Davis discusses how permanent sterilization was abused during the 1930’s-1970’s. Teenagers as young as 12-years-old were being permanently sterilized “Minnie Lee, who was 12 years old, and Mary Alice, who was 14, had been unsuspectingly carted into an operating room, where surgeons irrevocably robbed them of their capacity to bear children.” The first issue I have with this is that they’re children, I don’t care what colour they are they’re children. The second issue I have with this is that their mother couldn’t read the document she was signing, she was misled into believing she was signing something else, that to me sounds like something that should have been illegal to say the least. The amount of illiterate people who were taken advantage of because they couldn’t read the document they were signing is just completely unfair and wrong. The federal government had actually FUNDED 100,000-200,000 sterilizations in just a year. I agree with the wording used “genocide” because I don’t know how else you could describe that. In 1964 alone 65% of these women sterilized were of colour. I think I can see a double standard here, as it was even put in the article “the domestic population policy of the U.S definitely has an undeniably racist edge”.
The events taking place in this article were unreal, you hear about this kind of stuff happening in stories but it’s scary to think that it happened in real life not even 100 years ago. How the government ever had the political right or just the fucking audacity to strip women of their reproductive rights is beyond me.

I’m very highly pro-choice, I believe once you can understand the choice you’re making to go on birth control, have an abortion, be permanently sterilized, etc. then you should definitely be able to do it! But no one should be able to make those kind of choices for you, ever, whether you’re an adult or child. You should be able to ‘choose your choice’ no matter what race, gender, or class you are.

ABORTIONS ARE FOR SLUTS?

When I think about abortions, the first word that comes to mind sure isn’t “murderer.” Jessica Valenti does a great job on discussing many abortion issues that woman are faced with every day, all over the world. In her book, Full Frontal Feminism, two of her chapters discuss abortion rights, and the expectations that are put on women to become mothers, whether they want to, or not.

In my opinion, everybody should have the right to their own bodies, and no one should be able to take any of those rights away from you. On page 85 and 86 in If These Uterine Walls Could Talk, Jessica Valenti talks about a bill in Arizona and Texas, where Republicans tried to pass a bill which allowed doctors to lie to women about their prenatal test results. They wanted to make sure that women wouldn’t get abortions if their pregnancies were in danger. Messed up right? In Canada that would be extremely illegal, so let’s all be glad we live in Canada and not the US.

Sex is a pretty normal thing. Everybody has it in some way or another, at some point in their lives. You shouldn’t be punished for engaging in a natural activity, because if sex was never discovered, none of us would be here today. Everybody makes mistakes, and getting pregnant when you’re not planning it, is a very common one. Not every baby is planned, and the people who decide to keep their unwanted pregnancies are probably either forced to, they have no other option to, or they are in a stable enough position in life to have one. What about all the younger kids out there who are still in school? The ones who aren’t financially stable to raise a child of their own because they are still a child themselves? Those are the people who should have every right to get their pregnancy aborted. Another point Jessica brought up was what happens if you were to get raped by your father? Having the child would be incest, so aborting it would be the best thing for not only you, but for the child as well. Taking these rights away from people is so wrong is so many ways. So again, how is it selfish to get an abortion? Most woman choose to get them because they know its right for them, AND their child’s future. When thinking about abortions, not many people think about it from the male’s point of view. What happens when you have a random hook up at a party, and the girl gets pregnant? Do you think the guy is going to want to pay child support for the rest of his life? Abortion rights also impact men, which not a lot of people put into consideration.

Jessica Valenti states that 99 percent of woman will use birth control at some point in their lives. On page 91 and 92, she talks about how women have gone to their local pharmacy to fill a prescription of birth control, and the pharmacist refused to give it to them if they weren’t married, or if they weren’t using it to regulate their period. How insane is that? Just because they have a certain view on premarital sex, that shouldn’t take away your freedom to take a pill to prevent you from becoming pregnant! Thirteen states now have the law where pharmacists and other health care professionals are allowed to refuse any medications that go against any of their moral and religious beliefs, ect. If someone was taking the pill to prevent pregnancy, to help acne, or to regulate their period, it shouldn’t be any ones business but their own. This absolutely blows my mind!

Moral of my blog is that there are a lot of messed up issues going on all around us, everyday. Again, we should all be extremely thankful that we live in Canada so that we don’t have to worry about our freedom to have sex taken away from us. Not just having sex, but some of the downfalls there are behind having sex. So ladies, keep taking your pill, get an abortion if you think its right, and don’t let anybodies views of sex, keep you from having it!

-Danielle

Stop Forced Sterilizations

sterilImagine being robbed of the chance of ever bearing children of your own and forced into an agreement by the government which would limit your chance of acquiring proper health care, resources or support. Well according to Angela Davis: Reproductive Rights, that was the reality for many women during 1930’s to the 1970’s. The practice of eugenics were widely accepted by political views and practiced through the United States which was adopted from “The Nazis Hereditary Health Law,” this practice created a new method of birth control. I understand and accept the use of birth control but to the extreme levels of leaving a woman infertile I don’t accept. What’s wrong with the government to place a high number of women at risk of infections, infertility and potential death?

The use of “compulsory sterilization as a means of eliminating the “unfit” sectors of the population” sounds more like a dramatic movie, oh wait that’s right the Hungry Games is similar to this historical event that eliminated many potential lives. I don’t agree with this method of birth control, an act of genocide or extermination of people, call it whatever you want to call it. In reality it’s a political act of power to perverse the “acceptable” and “loyal” followers and to “prevent the reproduction of mentally deficient persons,” what gives the government the right to choose who lives or dies? Angela Davis gives evidence on historical events that had stripped women of the right to bear children, The Relf sister’s were age 12 and 14 that underwent the operation, there other sister was 16 years old,  with all together around 100,000 to 200,000 sterilizations had occurred during this process of population control.

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare had funded, encouraged and ordered the dsc_08204sterilization for many cases of youth and women within the welfare system. Abusing the right to act on behalf of a person, controls wither or not that person is capable or wealthy enough to have a child is unacceptable. Early white feminists should have looked at the intersectional analysis of the lower-class women within the systems; I could understand how angry the women of color would have been in this situation. Population control or not, this just pisses me off, I could relate because I have a child and although abortion was not my option it may be for others but to be placed in this position by the government is plain out wrong. I am pro-choice because I believe women should be able to make that decision, who said the government is the BOSS of our bodies.

There is a big difference between none-colored women and women of color that had been sterilized; 65 percent of sterilized women were black, 35 percent were white and by 1976 , 24 percent were Native. Some of the colored women hardly spoke English or no English at all, many of the women were poor, of color or mentally challenged and determined by the government unfit to have children. Racism within the reproduction rights argument that Angela Davis is examining is true, I agree with her article that women of color faced a higher risk of being practiced on. One out of four Native women within the Indian Health Services Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma would be sterilized while giving birth, is that normal? What gives the right for the Doctors to operate on their patients in exchange for services of the sterilization? You would think for all the discrimination, racism and genocide Native people have endured they would be exempted from this practice but apparently not.

                  Dr. Clovis Pierce had made his future patients with two or more children “submit” to the sterilization if they wanted his services and to deliver their babies, the women on welfare would be selected to this process. He said “tired of people running around and having babies and paying for them with my taxes” but all while forcing the patient to want proper health services or to place themselves and the child at danger. Clearly high professional ranking positions would be in a man’s power, such a Doctor right? If there were more female Doctors during this period in history do you think the percentage of sterilization would decrease? It was obvious of the first wave feminist movement when white women were given the right to vote that they held power but how much did the government grant to them? I think this period of sterilization in the 1930’s was just another distraction towards females to keep their minds, thoughts and actions on other issues, oppressions and practices.akhbaar-0071

                What really captured my attention within the article were the stories of women, the statistics of colored women chosen for this medical method and the notion of a perfect picture family for native people who were suggested the proper family dynamitic within a pamphlet. A racist claim that children bring poverty and without them wealth could be reached through a sketch of a family with many children and one horse versus a family with one child and many horses. The population policy the U.S government practiced was clearly racist but this still did not justify the fact of the outcomes and all the lives of women they disrupted. All the attention is aimed at women within this sterilization abuse theory, where were the entire male’s focus in this policy? Is there even any? Or is it suggested that it’s the women’s responsibilities and that women should be the only primary focus?

Angela Davis article was a great read, every few sentences I was getting more heatenative pic class blogd about the issues around reproductive rights. I never really thought about it as being an issued or had a concern about what practices were or are out there. The education and knowledge of knowing was not a concern till now, I know there is something wrong with the big picture when I would be getting mad at the evidence within this article. And just to think they are still providing the sterilization to those women who can’t afford an abortion, this practice is still being encouraged to women in low-classes and essentially women of color feel the backlash of the propaganda of this ridiculous medical method. Ugh I can go on and on about the many issues related to the sterilization abuse, this is one heated topic for feminist to think about and act upon.

“Sterilization abuse must be ended”- Angela Davis

-B. Chartrand