Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Women’s Studies

Major Essay Wo workforce across the ara ca engross ch exclusivelyenges and incurs some(prenominal)(prenominal) as sexual activity curriculum inequation, subjection, struggle with identity, sexual wakening, womens objectification, various(prenominal)ized resi position, reliving womens hi accounting, female em motivement and etc. These be some of the themes that provide be addressed In this essay. These themes leave al hotshot be supported by womens liberationist short stories from books such(prenominal) as The Yellow W tot anyypaper and separate stories by Charlotte Perkins Gillian and The Bloody Chamber and some opposite stories by Angela Carter.Through the use of artistic texts, womens ch anyenges and experiences will be interpreted apply the themes in these stories. In the story The Yellow W all in allpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillian, focuses on women living In the nineteenth century where men hand over a high standing In the soci subject hierarchy that crush women, Gender plays a big graphic symbol In loving hierarchy. Even a rich fair sex discount non consumption the same rights and libertys as men would. Women were non given the same ploughsh atomic number 18akeity as men. Gillian focuses on the themes such as face-to-face declineance and womens history.As the fabricator in this story battles with err take psychological mind and the distant creation, she slowly falls into deep madness as her obsession grows with the lily-livered paper. To relief herself from going Insane, she keeps a Journal that exercises her creative mind as her husband prohibits It. This suffice of create verbally In her Journal Is alike equivalent to the movie, The Hours where the char kneader Virginia Wolf wrote cursory to keep herself sane in her confinement. The wallpaper represented her sanity and relinquishdom.As a show of resistance from her husband she divide the wallpaper, which made her feel free and bureauful. l wonder if they all pass out of that wallpaper as I did? (Gillian 34) shows her spaciousing of freedom and resistance. Women during this clipping period did non stupefy much value as they were arbiter to be precisely wives and mothers and crumbnot carry on other responsibilities. It Is so disapprove not to run through any advice and companionship most my work (Gillian 24) as her husband instructed her to stay in confinement and a focal point from writing.She has spent her age contain in a room where there is only a window to look at which eventually made her insane. As a wo homosexual living In the 19th century, the narrator had no check over over her let life and had let her husband dominate her. Women did not have the same opportunities as men did. The authors use of these themes gave the story a effective centre of women longing for freedom and equality in their society. In the story, If I Were A Man by Charlotte Perkins Gillian, focuses on a fair sex who fought genial boundaries and take risk to improve themselves and their material cast (Hoofers 36).As in this story, women were not ready for business besides Gillian challenged that. Gillian focuses on the themes such as sex activity Identity and empowerment, During this conviction period, womens roles were to stay confined In their gustation in sexual practice role was examined in this story, Gerald had already about that bill, over which she- as Mollie- was still crying at home (Gillian 39) shows how opposite the roles of men and women were. Women were the only subdue to be emotional who stayed at home firearm the men were the wizs who held themselves together with pride and dignity.Mollie Matheson finds herself to be riant when she becomes her husband Gerald go d suffer the path so erect and squ atomic number 18- shouldered (Gillian 35) as masculine as she batch ever be. The estimation of organismness a man gave Mollie a comprehend of pride and dignity compared to when sh e was a womanhood. In Mollies horse sense to have equality amongst men, she matte such freedom and still (Gillian 36) in becoming Gerald as she has all these privileges a woman would not have. potency became a big symbol once Mollie started to ingest coin and privileges only men would have had. She never had dreamed of how it felt to have pockets (Perkins 36) shows how she realizes that she is powerful having m stary and being equal to(p) to support herself without the subscribe to of having a man to rely on. The themes used in this story became an alter for women to r each(prenominal) higher and climb the social hierarchy to have equal opportunities as men do. In the story, The Cottage by Charlotte Perkins Gillian, focuses closely on how usanceal male and female roles are slowly evolving. In this story, condescension of the old believe in women serving as wives and housekeepers was challenged.Gillian focuses on themes such as sexual urge identity and status. Malta is expected to be postal code but a wife and housekeeper as what they care for nearly, after all, is domesticity What they want to connect is a home consumer (Gillian 55) according to her friend. This shows how inequality and lack of freedom plays along in customal roles f women. Also, Mammals lack of independence and longing for Fords grace shows how she follows the traditional role of a woman. l could cook. I could cook splendidly plainly if it was a question of pleasing Ford Mathews- (Gillian 56) as her aspiration was to please Ford and zippo but Ford.Women were expected to act civil and demure, as they do not want their status to be devalued. She ideal it would look break out if we had an older person with us (Gillian 57) shows how women are confined to act a certain representation and are not able to show who they truly are. Women are similarly analysen as trophies or objects a man rump have whenever he wishes, And woman? He will hold her, he will have her when he pleases (Gillian 100). Women were treat nothing equally as men but in this story, this concept was challenged.The themes in this story reminds us that women do have traditional roles but can always do something more than being a wife or housekeeper. In the story, The Bloody Chambers by Angela Carter focuses on sexual awakening and womens objectification by dint of fairytale storytelling. This challenges the typical fairytale story in which is unified as pleasant and happy into gory and violent. The heroine was blossoming into adulthood as she experiences her sexual awakening upon to losing her virginity. Away from Paris, away from girlhood, away from the purity, enclosed tranquillity of my mothers apartment (Carter 7) shows her freedom from childhood and practice her sexual curiosity. She besides compares the act of A tender, delicious ecstasy of excitement (Carter 7) leading up to discourse as meet her husband. She longs and waits the moment when her husband deflowers women have been major targets of sexual stereotypical and detrimental orphaned (Adams and Fuller 7) and seen as sexual objects. marquess interpreted the heroine as a sexual object that he can wo(e) and violate. The heroine felt violated as Marquis in a way forced her to undress and deflower her like disrobing of the bride, a ritual from the whorehouse (Carter 15).The heroine is comparing the confounded of her virginity as a ritual from a bagnio depicts how disrespected and disgusted she felt term doing this act. Marquis was a power thirsty(p) who showed no respect to her brides. The heroine did not feel that losing her virginity was a special act but rather a aromatizing experiences as watched a dozen husbands lift me in a dozen mirrors (Carter 15). Although the story ended with a happy tone, the story still degrades women as the heroin was relieved that she was able to hatch her red mark as the blind piano tuner cannot see it T spares me shame (Carter 41). The themes port rayed in this story shows that fairytale stories exteriorize women and given women a littleer value then they should have. In the story, fathead in Boots by Angela Carter examines the role of violence in sex and woman objectification. The puppyish woman was predicted as a poor girl who was arced to conjoin a rich man. In this case, sexual activity and screen play a role in social status in this story. As signor Pantone symbolizes violence and sex for the young woman, as she wishes for sexual gratification she mustiness submit to violence. L gave her the customary tribute of a fewer firms thrusts of my stripe loins (Carter 70). As Signor Pantone was murdered and passed away, the young woman and Puss subdue proceeded with the act of intercourse despite having a dead corpse abutting to them. . Theyre at it, hammer and tongs, d have got on the carpet since the bed is pursue (Carter 04) shows the young womans absurd attraction of violence towards sex. It seems like the youn g woman is aroused by the acts of violence around her. Women were called unpleasant names and were treated as property by their masters or husbands.One of Signor Pantheons servants was being called a hag and described as someone who is very repulsive and useless. Also, Signor Pantaloon sees the young woman as property and a sense of please giver. She is as well as a prisoner of her own where she can only sit in a window for one hour and one hour only (Carter 101) shows how she doesnt have freedom and is being held captive by her own husband. The themes of violence in sex and womens objectification helped shaped the story poor mentality on womens value. In the story, The Tigers Bride by Angela Carter focuses on womens objectification and sexual awakening.The heroine is a watcher whose nonplus had a gambling addiction in which he had lost to the Beast. The heroine then was used as a operater for her father gambling addiction. My father lost me to The Beast at cards. (Carter 60) shows how devalued the heroine is. There is also patriarchy played in this story. As the father and the beast holds the heroine in incarceration and she has o voice in her own life. My father said he loved me yet he staked his daughter on a pass by of cards. (Carter 62) shows how helpless and out of control the heroines life is.She is being used as an object and nothing more but a value of money and not life itself. The heroines sexual awakening is measured when she transforms into a beast. This also signifies sex and birth as a way of her transformation. Losing her virginity lick the beat off me (Carter 69) she describes herself being reborn into a tigress. This act of rebirth signifies a mans reclaim in sex, as a man controls a woman during intercourse. This also ties in with violence in sex as she sheds pipeline during intercourse and sheds her own skin to become awaken.The themes delivered a powerful message of the pain and relief in finding ones awakening. Through the us e of womens liberationist themes and ideas, writers Charlotte Perkins Gillian and Angela Carter sent powerful messages in their short stories. Charlotte Perkins Gillian mostly used the womens rightist themes such as private resistance and gender identity to apologize the underlying meanings in her stories. Characters in Sailings writings were rebellious and did not conform to social norms. As they, freely expressed themselves in their own way with a positive ending.Contrary in Angel Carters writings, focused on themes such as womens objectification and sexual awakening. The male characters usually portrayed having some event of evil controlling the female character. The stories in Carters books are very tincture and sexual. Some descriptions in her writing almost have a sense of pornographic image. Both writers gave us a grasp on how themes powerfully send messages throughout the stories. Adams, Terrier M. , and Douglas B. Fuller. The Words Have Changed barely the Ideology body the Same Misogynistic Lyrics in Rap Music.Womens Studies gruesome Feminist conceit in the Matrix of Domination From Patricia Hill Collins, raw Feminist approximation Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Boston Unwin Hyman, 1990), pp. 221238 obscure womens rightist pattern demonstrates inkiness womens rising power as agents of knowledge. By portraying black women as self- pay backd, self-directed someones confronting race, gender, and class persecuteion, Afrocentric libber survey speaks to the grandeur that conquest, Afrocentric feminist legal opinion speaks to the wideness that knowledge plays in empowering laden expectant deal.One distinguishing feature of dense feminist image is its insistence that devil the counter ex mixed bagd cognisance of individuals and the social transformation of legatoal and frugal institutions pretend essential ingredients for social change. New knowledge is important for two dimensions of change. Knowledge is a vitally important part of the social dealings of domination and resistance. By objectifying black women and recasting our experiences to serve the interests of elite black-and-blue men, much of the Eurocentric masculinist worldview fosters dumb womens subordination.But placing faint womens experiences at the center of depth psychology offers fresh insights on the prevailing concepts, paradigms, and epistemologies of this worldview and on its feminist and Afrocentric critiques. Viewing the world through a two/and conceptual lens of the simultaneity of race, class, and gender oppression and of the necessity for a humanist vision of community creates cutting possibilities for an empowering Afrocentric feminist knowledge. Many down in the mouth feminist intellectuals have long theme about the world in this way be make up this is the way we experience the world.Afrocentric feminist supposition offers two pregnant contributions toward furthering our understandi ng of the important connections among knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. First, minatory feminist conception fosters a fundamental paradigmatic dis presentment in how we think about oppression. By embracing a paradigm of race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression, contraband feminist design reconceptualises the social relations of domination and resistance.Second, shocking feminist vista addresses ongoing epistemological debates in feminist theory and in the sociology of knowledge concerning ways of assessing truth. Offering stamp down roots in the altogether knowledge about their own experiences can be empowering. But revealing new ways of subtile that allow subordinate root words to define their own reality has far greater implications. Reconceptualizing Race, Class, and Gender as meshing Systems of Oppression What I really feel is radical is movementing to make coalitions with the great unwashed who are different from yo u, maintains Barbara Smith. I feel it is radical to be dealing with race and sex and class and sexual identity all at one time. I think that is really radical because it has never been done before. scurrilous feminist thought fosters a fundamental paradigmatic shift that rejects one-dimensional accessiones to oppression. Instead of starting with gender and then adding in other variables such as age, sexual orientation, race, social class, and religion, dull feminist thought sees these distinctive systems of oppression as being part of one overarching structure of domination.Viewing relations of domination for stern women for any given sociohistorical scene as being coordinate via a system of interlocking race, class, and gender oppression expands the focus of analysis from merely describing the similarities and differences distinguishing these systems of oppression and focuses greater management on how they interconnect. Assuming that each system needs the others in arrang ement to function creates a distinct theoretical stance that stimulates the re intellection of basic social science concepts.Afrocentric feminist notions of family reflect this reconceptualization process. Black womens experiences as blood mothers, other mothers, and community other mothers reveal that the mythical norm of a heterosexual, marital couple, nuclear family with a nonworking spouse and a husband mastering a family wage is far from being natural, universal and preferred but instead is deep plant in specialize race and class formations.Placing African-American women in the center of analysis not only reveals much-needed information about Black womens experiences but also questions Eurocentric masculinist perspectives on family Black womens experiences and the Afrocentric feminist thought rearticulating them also challenge prevailing definitions of community. Black womens actions in the struggle or group survival suggest a vision of community that stands in opposition to that extant in the prevalent refinement.The definition of community covert in the market model sees community as arbitrary and fragile, structured fundamentally by competition and domination. In contrast, Afrocentric models of community stress connections, caring, and personal accountability. As cultural workers African-American women have rejected the infer political orientation of domination advanced by the plethoric group in rescript to conserve Afrocentric conceptualizations of community.Denied access to the podium, Black women have been unable to spend time theorizing about choice conceptualizations of community. Instead, through daily actions African-American women have created alternative communities that empower. This vision of community sustained by African-American women in connecter with African-American men addresses the larger issue of reconceptualizing power. The type of Black womens power discussed here does resemble feminist theories of power which empha size zipper and community.However, in contrast to this body of literature whose celebration of womens power is often come with by a lack of attention to the importance of power as domination, Black womens experiences as mothers, community other mothers, educators, church leaders, labor sum of money center-women, and community leaders seem to suggest that power as energy can be fostered by creative acts of resistance. The spheres of learn created and sustained by African-American women are not meant solely to provide a backup from oppressive smirchs or a retreat from their effects. alternatively, these Black female spheres of influence constitute potential sanctuaries where individual Black women and men are nurtured in order to confront oppressive social institutions. Power from this perspective is a creative power used for the good of the community, whether that community is conceptualized as ones family, church community, or the next generation of the communitys children. B y qualification the community bulletproofer, African-American women become authorize, and that same community can serve as a ancestor of support when Black women encounter race, gender, and class oppression. . . Approaches that assume that race, gender, and class are interconnected have immediate practical applications. For ex plenteous, African-American women stretch to be inadequately protected by prenomen VII of the cultivated Rights Act of 1964. The primordial coil purpose of the statute is to eradicate all aspects of discrimination. But judicial treatment of Black womens employment discrimination claims has encouraged Black women to identify race or sex as the so-called primary discrimination. To resolve the inequities that confront Black women, counsels Scarborough, the courts must first correctly conceptualize them as Black women, a distinct class protected by Title VII. Such a shift, from protected categories to protected classes of mountain whose Title VII claims might be based on more than two discriminations, would work to alter the entire basis of current antidiscrimination efforts. Reconceptualizing phenomena such as the rapid growth of female-headed households in African-American communities would also benefit from a race-, class-, and gender-inclusive analysis.Case studies of Black women heading households must be attentive to racially section local labor markets and community patterns, to changes in local political economies specific to a given city or region, and to established racial and gender ideology for a given location. This approach would go far to deconstruct Eurocentric, masculinist analyses that implicitly rely on controlling images of the matriarch or the well-being mother as guiding conceptual premises. . . Black feminist thought that rearticulates experiences such as these fosters an enhanced theoretical understanding of how race, gender, and class oppression are part of a single, historically created system. The Matri x of Domination analogue models of oppression are firmly grow in the either/or dichotomous thinking of Eurocentric, masculinist thought. One must be either Black or white in such thought systemspersons of ambiguous racial and ethnic identity constantly battle with questions such as what are your, anyway? This emphasis on quantification and categorization occurs in conjunction with the sentiment that either/or categories must be ranked. The search for certainty of this physique requires that one side of a dichotomy be privileged bit its other is denigrated. Privilege becomes defined in relation to its other. Replacing additive models of oppression with interlocking ones creates possibilities for new paradigms.The significance of seeing race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression is that such an approach fosters a paradigmatic shift of thinking inclusively about other oppressions, such as age, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity. Race, class, and gender r epresent the three systems of oppression that most heavily affect African-American women. But these systems and the economical, political, and ideological conditions that support them whitethorn not be the most fundamental oppressions, and they certainly affect many more groups than Black women.Other people of discolour, Jews, the poor white women, and gays and lesbians have all had similar ideological justifications offered for their subordination. any categories of humans labeled Others have been equated to one another(prenominal), to animals, and to nature. Placing African-American women and other excluded groups in the center of analysis opens up possibilities for a two/and conceptual stance, one in which all groups possess varying amounts of penalty and privilege in one historically created system. In this system, for example, white women are penalized by their gender but privileged by their race.Depending on the s jazz, an individual whitethorn be an oppressor, a member o f an oppressed group, or simultaneously oppressor and oppressed. Adhering to a both/and conceptual stance does not mean that race, class, and gender oppression are interchangeable. For example, whereas race, class, and gender oppression operate on the social structural train of institutions, gender oppression seems better able to annex the basic power of the erotic and intrude in personal relationships via family dynamics and within individual consciousness.This whitethorn be because racial oppression has fostered historically cover communities among African-Americans and other racial/ethnic groups. These communities have stimulated cultures of resistance. art object these communities segregate Blacks from whites, they simultaneously provide counter-institutional buffers that subordinate groups such as African-Americans use to resist the ideas and institutions of prevalent groups. Social class may be similarly structured.Traditionally conceptualized as a relationship of individ ual employees to their employers, social class might be better viewed as a relationship of communities to capitalist political economies. Moreover, significant cooccur exists between racial and social class oppression when viewing them through the collective lens of family and community. Existing community structures provide a primary line of resistance against racial and class oppression. But because gender cross-cuts these structures, it finds less comparable institutional bases to foster resistance.Embracing a both/and conceptual stance moves us from additive, separate systems approaches to oppression and toward what I now see as the more fundamental issue of the social relations of domination. Race, class, and gender constitute axes of oppression that characterize Black womens experiences within a more generalized matrix of domination. Other groups may encounter different dimensions of the matrix, such as sexual orientation, religion, and age, but the overarching relationship is one of domination and the types of activism it finds.Bell Hooks labels this matrix a politic of domination and describes how it operates along interlocking axes of race, class, and gender oppression. This politic of domination refers to the ideological ground that they share, which is a belief in domination, and a belief in the notions of superior and inferior, which are components of all of those systems. For me its like a house, they share the foundation, but the foundation is the ideological beliefs around which notions of domination are constructed.Johnella Butler claims that new methodologies maturation from this new paradigm would be non-hierarchical and would slump primacy to either race, class, gender, or ethnicity, demanding instead a recognition of their matrix-like interaction. Race, class, and gender may not be the most fundamental or important systems of oppression, but they have most profoundly affected African-American women. One significant dimension of Black feminist thought is its potential to reveal insights about the social relations of domination organized along other axes such as religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age.Investigating Black womens occurrence experiences thusly promises to reveal much about the more universal process of domination. Multiple Levels of Domination In addition to being structured along axes such as race, gender, and social class, the matrix of domination is structured on several levels. People experience and resist oppression on three levels the level of personal autobiography the group or community level of the cultural context created by race, class, and gender and the systemic level of social institutions.Black feminist thought emphasizes all three levels as sites of domination and as potential sites of resistance. Each individual has a unique personal biography made up of concrete experiences, values, motivations, and emotions. No two individuals occupy the same social length thus no tw o biographies are identical. Human ties can be acquittance and empowering, as is the case with Black womens heterosexual love relationships or in the power of motherhood in African-American families and communities. Human ties can also be confining and oppressive.Situations of domestic violence and convolute or cases in which controlling images foster Black womens internalized oppression represent domination on the personal level. The same situation can look quite different depending on the consciousness one brings to interpret it. This level of individual consciousness is a fundamental area where new knowledge can generate change. Traditional accounts assume that power as domination operates from the top down by forcing and controlling unwilling victims to bend to the will of more powerful superiors.But these accounts fail to account for questions concerning why, for example, women stay with abusive men even with ample opportunity to leave or why slaves did not kill their owners more often. The willingness of the victim to collude in her or his own victimization becomes lost. They also fail to account for sustained resistance by victims, even when chances for advantage appear remote. By emphasizing the power of self-definition and the necessity of a free mind, Black feminist thought speaks to the importance African-American women thinkers place on consciousness as a sphere of freedom.Black women intellectuals realize that domination operates not only by structuring power from the top down but by simultaneously annexing the power as energy of those on the bottom for its own ends. In their efforts to rearticulate the rack of African-American women as a group, Black feminist thinkers offer individual African-American women the conceptual tools to resist oppression. The cultural context formed by those experiences and ideas that are shared with other members of a group or community which give meaning to individual biographies constitutes a indorsement level at which domination is experienced and resisted.Each individual biography is rooted in several overlapping cultural contextsfor example, groups defined by race, social class, age, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. The cultural component contributes, among other things, the concepts used in thinking and acting, group validation of an individuals interpretation of concepts, the thought models used in the erudition of knowledge, and standards used to evaluate individual thought and behavior. The most cohesive cultural contexts are those with identifiable histories, geographic locations, and social institutions.For Black women African-American communities have provided the location for an Afrocentric group perspective to endure. Subjugated knowledges, such as a Black womens culture of resistance, develop in cultural contexts controlled by oppressed groups. Dominant groups aim to replace subjugated knowledge with their own specialized thought because they realize that gaining co ntrol over this dimension of subordinate groups lives simplifies control. While efforts to nfluence this dimension of an oppressed groups experiences can be partial(p)ly successful, this level is more difficult to control than superior groups would have us believe. For example, adhering to externally derived standards of beauty leads many African-American women to dislike their skin color or hairs-breadth texture. Similarly, internalizing Eurocentric gender ideology leads some Black men to abuse Black women. These are cases of the successful infusion of the dominant groups specialized thought into the everyday cultural context of African-Americans.But the long-standing population of a Black womens culture of resistance as expressed through Black womens relationships with one another, the Black womens blues tradition, and the voices of contemporary African-American women writers all attest to the difficulty of eliminating the cultural context as a fundamental site of resistance. Domination is also experienced and resisted on the third level of social institutions controlled by the dominant group namely, schools, churches, the media, and other formal organizations.These institutions expose individuals to the specialized thought representing the dominant groups bandstand and interests. While such institutions offer the promise of both literacy and other skills that can be used for individual empowerment and social transformation, they simultaneously require docility and passivity. Such institutions would have us believe that the theorizing of elites constitutes the whole of theory.The existence of African-American women thinkers such as Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, and Fannie Lou Hamer who, though excluded from and/or marginalized within such institutions, continued to score theory effectively opposes this hegemonic view. Moreover, the more new-made resurgence of Black feminist thought within these institutions, the case of the lad der of contemporary Black feminist thought in history and literature, at a time challenges the Eurocentric masculinist thought pervading these institutions.Resisting the Matrix of Domination Domination operates by seducing, pressuring, or forcing African-American women and members of subordinated groups to replace individual and cultural ways of knowing with the dominant groups specialized thought. As a result, suggests Audre Lorde, the true focus of transmutationary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is plant deep within each of us. Or as Toni Cade Bambara succinctly states, revolution begins with the self, in the self. Lorde and Bambaras suppositions raise an important issue for Black feminist intellectuals and for all scholars and activists working for social change. Although most individuals have little difficulty identifying their own victimization within some major system of oppressionwhether it b e by race, social class, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or genderthey typically fail to see how their thoughts and actions uphold someone elses subordination. Thus white feminists routinely point with confidence to their oppression as women but resist seeing how much their white skin privileges them.African-Americans who possess eloquent analyses of racial discrimination often persist in viewing poor white women as symbols of white power. The radical left fares little better. If only people of color and women could see their true class interests, they argue, class solidarity would eliminate racism and sexism. In essence, each group identifies the oppression with which it feels most comfortable as being fundamental and classifies all others as being of lesser importance. Oppression is modify with such contradictions because these approaches fail to recognize that a matrix of domination contains few pure victims or oppressors.Each individual derives varying amounts of penalty and privilege from the twofold systems of oppression which frame everyones lives. A broader focus stresses the interlocking nature of oppressions that are structured on eight-fold levels, from the individual to the social structural, and which are part of a larger matrix of domination. Adhering to this inclusive model provides the conceptual space needed for each individual to see that she or he is both a member of multiple dominant groups and a member of multiple subordinate groups.Shifting the analysis to investigating how the matrix of domination is structured along certain axesrace, gender, and class being the axes of investigation for AfricanAmerican womenreveals that different systems of oppression may rely in varying degrees on systemic versus interpersonal mechanisms of domination. Empowerment involves rejecting the dimensions of knowledge, whether personal, cultural, or institutional, that perpetuate objectification and dehumanization.African-Am erican women and other individuals in subordinate groups become empowered when we understand and use those dimensions of our individual, group, and disciplinary ways of knowing that foster our benignity as fully human subjects. This is the case when Black women value our self-definitions, infix in a Black womens activist tradition, invoke an Afrocentric feminist epistemology as central to our worldview, and view the skills gained in schools as part of a focused education for Black community development. C.Wright Mills identifies this holistic epistemology as the sociological imagination and identifies its task and its promise as a way of knowing that enables individuals to grasp the relations between history and biography within society. using ones standpoint to reside the sociological imagination can empower the individual. My fullest niggardliness of energy is available to me, Audre Lorde maintains, only when I integrate all the split of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and off freely through all my different selves, without the restriction of externally impose definition. Black Women as Agents of Knowledge Living life as an African-American woman is a necessary prerequisite for producing Black feminist thought because within Black womens communities thought is vali projectd and publishd with reference to a particular set of historical, material, and epistemological conditions. African-American women who adhere to the idea that claims about Black women must be substantiated by Black womens sense of our own experiences and who strand our knowledge claims in an Afrocentric feminist epistemology have produced a rich tradition of Black feminist thought.Traditionally such women were blues singers, poets, autobiographers, storytellers, and orators validated by everyday Black women as experts on a Black womens standpoint. Only a few unusual African-American feminist scholars have been able to bear Eurocent ric masculinist epistemologies and explicitly embrace an Afrocentric feminist epistemology. Consider Alice Walkers description of Zora Neal Hurston In my mind, Zora Neale Hurston, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith form a sort of unholy trinity.Zora belongs in the tradition of black women singers, rather than among the literati. . . . Like Billie and Jessie she followed her own road, believed in her own gods act her own dreams, and refused to separate herself from common people. Zora Neal Hurston is an exception for prior to 1950, few African-American women earned advanced degrees and most of those who did complied with Eurocentric masculinist epistemologies.Although these women worked on behalf of Black women, they did so within the confines of pervasive race and gender oppression. Black women scholars were in a position to see the exclusion of African-American women from scholarly discourse, and the thematic content of their work often reflected their interest in examining a Black womens standpoint. However, their tenuous status in academic institutions led them to adhere to Eurocentric masculinist epistemologies so that their work would be accepted as scholarly.As a result, while they produced Black feminist thought, those African-American women most likely to gain academic credentials were often least likely to produce Black feminist thought that used an Afrocentric feminist epistemology. An ongoing tension exists for Black women as agents of knowledge, a tension rooted in the sometimes conflicting demands of Afrocentricity and feminism. Those Black women who are feminists are critical of how Black culture and many of its traditions oppress women.For example, the strong pronatal beliefs in African-American communities that foster early motherhood among childlike girls, the lack of self-actualization that can accompany the double-day of paid employment and work in the home, and the emotional and physical abuse that many Black women experience from their fa thers, lovers, and husbands all reflect practices opposed by African-American women who are feminists. But these same women may have a parallel desire as members of an oppressed racial group to affirm the value of that same culture and traditions.Thus strong Black mothers appear in Black womens literature, Black womens economic contributions to families is lauded, and a curious silence exists concerning domestic abuse. As more African-American women earn advanced degrees, the range of Black feminist scholarship is expanding. Increasing numbers of African-American women scholars are explicitly choosing to ground their work in Black womens experiences, and, by doing so, they implicitly adhere to an Afrocentric feminist epistemology.Rather than being restrained by their both/and status of marginality, these women make creative use of their outsider-within status and produce innovative Afrocentric feminist thought. The difficulties these women face lie less in demonstrating that they h ave mastered white male epistemologies than in resisting the hegemonic nature of these patterns of thought in order to see, value, and use existing alternative Afrocentric feminist ways of knowing. In establishing the legitimacy of their knowledge claims, Black women scholars who want to develop Afrocentric feminist thought may encounter the often conflicting standards of three key groups.First, Black feminist thought must be validated by ordinary bicycle Atrican-American women who, in the words of Hannah Nelson, grow to womanhood in a world where the saner you are, the madder you are made to appear. To be credible in the eye of this group, scholars must be personal advocates for their material, be accountable for the consequences of their work, have lived or experienced their material in some fashion, and be willing to engage in confabulations about their findings with ordinary, everyday people. Second, Black feminist thought also must be accepted by the community of Black women scholars.These scholars place varying amounts of importance on rearticulating a Black womens standpoint using an Afrocentric feminist epistemology. Third, Afrocentric feminist thought within academia must be prepared to confront Eurocentric masculinist political and epistemological requirements. The dilemma cladding Black women scholars engaged in creating Black feminist thought is that a knowledge claim that meets the criteria of adequacy for one group and thus is judged to be an acceptable knowledge claim may not be translatable into the terms of a different group.Using the example of Black English, June Jordan illustrates the difficulty of woful among epistemologies You cannot translate instances of Standard English preoccupied with abstraction or with nothing/nobody evidently alive into Black English. That would warp the language into uses antithetic to the guiding perspective of its community of users. Rather you must first change those Standard English sentences, themselve s, into ideas consistent with the person-centered assumptions of Black English.Although both worldviews share a common vocabulary, the ideas themselves defy direct edition. For Black women who are agents of knowledge, the marginality that accompanies outsider-within status can be the source of both frustration and creativity. In an attempt to pick at the differences between the cultural context of African-American communities and the expectations of social institutions, some women assort their behavior and become two different people. Over time, the strain of doing this can be enormous.Others reject their cultural context and work against their own outdo interests by enforcing the dominant groups specialized thought. Still others manage to inhabit both contexts but do so critically, using their outsider-within perspectives as a source of insights and ideas. But while outsiders within can make substantial personal cost. Eventually it comes to you, observes Lorraine Hansberry, the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely. Once Black feminist scholars face the notion that, on certain dimensions of a Black womens standpoint, it may be fruitless to try and translate ideas from an Afrocentric feminist epistemology into a Eurocentric masculinist framework, then other choices emerge. Rather than trying to uncover universal knowledge claims that can withstand the translation from one epistemology to another (initially, at least), Black women intellectuals might find efforts to rearticulate a Black womens standpoint especially fruitful.Rearticulating a Black womens standpoint refashions the concrete and reveals the more universal human dimensions of Black womens everyday lives. I date all my work, notes Nikki Giovanni, because I think poetry, or any writing, is but a reflection of the moment. The universal comes from the particular. Bell Hooks maintains, my goal as a feminist thinker and theorist is to t ake that abstraction and articulate it in a language that renders it accessiblenot less complex or rigorousbut simply more accessible. The complexity exists interpreting it remains the unfulfilled challenge for Black women intellectuals.Situated Knowledge, Subjugated Knowledge, and Partial Perspectives My life seems to be an increasing revelation of the intimate trace of universal struggle, claims June Jordan You begin with your family and the kids on the block, and next you open your eyes to what you call your people and that leads you into land renew into Black English into Angola leads you back to your own bed where you lie by yourself wondering if you deserve to be peaceful, or trusted or desire or left to the freedom of your own unfaltering heart. And the scale shrinks to the use of a skull your own interior cage.Lorraine Hansberry expresses a similar idea I believe that one of the most sound ideas in dramatic writing is that in order to create the universal, you must pay v ery great attention to the specific. Universality, I think, emerges from the truthful identity of what is. Jordan and Hansberrys insights that universal struggle and truth may wear a particularistic, intimate face suggest a new epistemological stance concerning how we negotiate competing knowledge claims and identify truth. The context in which African-American womens ideas are nurtured or suppressed matters.Understanding the content and epistemology of Black womens ideas as specialized knowledge requires attending to the context from which those ideas emerge. While produced by individuals, Black feminist thought as situated knowledge is embedded in the communities in which African-American women find ourselves. A Black womens standpoint and those of other oppressed groups is not only embedded in a context but exists in a situation characterized by domination. Because Black womens ideas have been suppressed, this suppression has stimulated African-American women to create knowledg e that empowers people to resist domination.Thus Afrocentric feminist thought represents a subjugated knowledge. A Black womens standpoint may provide a preferred stance from which to view the matrix of domination because, in principle, Black feminist thought as specialized thought is less likely than the specialized knowledge produced by dominant groups to deny the connection between ideas and the vested interests of their creators. However, Black feminist thought as subjugated knowledge is not exempt from critical analysis, because conquest is not grounds for an epistemology.Despite African-American womens potential power to reveal new insights about the matrix of domination, a Black womens standpoint is only one cant of vision. Thus Black feminist thought represents a partial perspective. The overarching matrix of domination houses multiple groups, each with varying experiences with penalty and privilege that produce corresponding partial perspectives, situated knowledges, and, for clearly identifiable subordinate groups, subjugated knowledges. No one group has a clear angle of vision.No one group possesses the theory or methodology that allows it to discover the authoritative truth or, worse yet, proclaim its theories and methodologies as the universal norm evaluating other groups experiences. Given that groups are unequal in power in making themselves heard, dominant groups have a vested interest in suppressing the knowledge produced by subordinate groups. Given the existence of multiple and competing knowledge claims to truth produced by groups with partial perspectives, what epistemological approach offers the most promise? Dialogue and EmpathyWestern social and political thought contains two alternative approaches to ascertaining truth. The first, reflected in electropositive science, has long claimed that absolute truths exist and that the task of scholarship is to develop objective, unbiased tools of science to measure these truths. . . . Relati vism, the second approach, has been forwarded as the antithesis of and inevitable outcome of rejecting a positivist science. From a relativist perspective all groups produce specialized thought and each groups thought is equally valid. No group can claim to have a better interpretation of the truth than another.In a sense, relativism represents the opposite of scientific ideologies of objectivity. As epistemological stances, both positivist science and relativism minimize the importance of specific location in influencing a groups knowledge claims, the power inequities among groups that produce subjugated knowledges, and the strengths and limitations of partial perspective. The existence of Black feminist thought suggests another alternative to the ostensibly objective norms of science and to relativisms claims that groups with competing knowledge claims are equal. . . This approach to Afrocentric feminist thought allows African-American women to bring a Black womens standpoint to l arger epistemological dialogues concerning the nature of the matrix of domination. Eventually such dialogues may get us to a point at which, claims Elsa Barkley Brown, all people can learn to center in another experience, validate it, and judge it by its own standards without need of comparison or need to larn that framework as their own. In such dialogues, one has no need to decenter anyone in order to center someone else one has only to constantly, appropriately, rowlock the center. Those ideas that are validated as true by African-American women, African-American men, Latina lesbians, Asian-American women, Puerto Rican men, and other groups with distinctive standpoints, with each group using the epistemological approaches growing from its unique standpoint, thus become the most objective truths. Each group speaks from its own standpoint and shares its own partial, situated knowledge.But because each group perceives its own truth as partial, its knowledge is unfinished. Each g roup becomes better able to consider other groups standpoints without relinquishing the uniqueness of its own standpoint or suppressing other groups partial perspectives. What is always needed in the appreciation of art, or life, maintains Alice Walker, is the larger perspective. Connections made, or at least attempted, where none existed before, the straining to espouse in ones glance at the varied world the common thread, the unifying(a) theme through immense diversity. Partiality and not universality is the condition of being heard individuals and groups forwarding knowledge claims without owning their position are deemed less credible than those who do. Dialogue is critical to the success of this epistemological approach, the type of dialogue long extant in the Afrocentric call-and-response tradition whereby power dynamics are fluid, everyone has a voice, but everyone must listen and respond to other voices in order to be allowed to remain in the community.Sharing a common cau se fosters dialogue and encourages groups to transcend their differences. . . . African-American women have been victimized by race, gender, and class oppression. But portraying Black women solely as passive, unfortunate recipients of racial and sexual abuse stifles notions that Black women can actively work to change our circumstances and bring about changes in our lives.Similarly, presenting African-American women solely as heroic figures who easily engage in resisting oppression on all fronts minimizes the very real costs of oppression and can foster the percept that Black women need no help because we can take it. Black feminist thoughts emphasis on the ongoing interplay between Black womens oppression and Black womens activism presents the matrix of domination as responsive to human agency.Such thought views the world as a dynamic place where the goal is not merely to survive or to fit in or to cope rather, it becomes a place where we feel ownership and accountability. The exi stence of Afrocentric feminist thought suggests that there is always choice, and power to act, no matter how bleak the situation may appear to be. Viewing the world as one in the making raises the issue of individual responsibility for bringing about change. It also shows that while individual empowerment is key, only collective action can effectively generate lasting social transformation of political and economic institutions.

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