A review of Mohanty’s Under Western Eye: Feminist ...
A review of Mohanty’s Under Western Eye: Feminist and Scott’s
Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Anal
Under Western Eye:
The essay is the opening chapter of
Feminism without boundaries by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, a significant
contributor to the feminist transnational and postcolonial studies. The primary
purpose of the essay was to critically analyze the presentation of women in
various sectors of the society by numerous researchers in the particular
subject. The criticism was particularly on those scholars trained and
introduced in western feminism scholarship. She was critical towards the
discursive presentation of ‘Third World Woman’ in all writings pertaining
Gender and Development that tended to eliminate the geographical and historical
difference between women. She also draws the reader’s attention to various
effects of textual strategies used by individual writers to codify themselves
as western and the others as non-western.
The author gives the implications of
assuming that women are a cohesive group in which economic, political or social
acts enable the production of work that engages more seriously with the knowledge
production. She begins by indicating that even if the colonization process may
appear like it is sophisticated, it has a downside where it is a suppression of
heterogeneity subjects. She also considered that even the political practice
and the western feminist are not singular and homogenous. Throughout the essay,
the author exposes various presentations of a singular category of ‘Third World
Woman’ which according to her is ‘deconstructing and dismantling.' Reason being
that it creates a discursive systemization and homogenization of oppressed
women in the third word. She points out the attention of western feminism
towards the third world women is commendable. However, the third world remains
inferior to the West in levels of technological development, scientific
development, and economic wealth. Mohanty proposes careful approach not to
replicate inequality in power between the first world and third world.
The author builds the argument by
presenting various examples from different sources. The examples are from
various books by different authors on the issue of feminism. Reduction approach
by Juliette Minces is one of the books. From this Mohanty brings forth the
argument by Minces that a Muslim woman only acquires a title of a sister, wife
or mother since family and tribe are the only social structure this woman gets
to know about. Mohanty criticizes this since it assumes that the effecting
factor of oppression of women is the singular kinship system. The assumption
also fails to consider other factors such as cultural differences between the
societies and also the class difference. The worldwide victimization of Muslim
women undermines their struggles, their efforts and the achievements they have
made. Another book presented is women of Africa; Roots of Oppression by Maria
Rosa Cutrufelli. The book generalizes all women from Africa dependent, and
their main source of income is prostitution. The main issue is the
generalization of women according to categories, and Mohanty has explained this
using various authors throughout the article.
The author has achieved criticizing
various written material throughout the article, presenting various arguments
like the issue of black and Vietnamese women being victims of male violence,
difference in classification on third world and first world women which are
based on the race and treatment of women on the veiling issue which is based on
religion. However, the author has failed to give a clear solution to the
problems since she did not want to appear us being judgmental.
Gender: A Useful
Category of Historical Analysis
The article is based on the question of
the meaning of gender. Scott starts by dismissing the notion that gender is a
natural distinction between male and female and instead she points out that
gender is a system of distinction or a way of classifying phenomena that are
socially agreed upon. The author, therefore, tries to explain the issue on gender
in order to be able to identify the source of inequality in the society that is
based upon the societal definition of gender. She suggests that people should
change their belief on social power because according to her power lies and is
enabled by an existence of unequal organizations or relationships. She believes
that it is only by analyzing the concepts of gender that people can be able to
understand the history of inequity and be able to deal with the problem.
Through feminist history, Scott tries to critically understand how history
works as a place of the production of general and gender knowledge. Through the
analysis, she hoped to influence historians to abandon a single-cause
explanation of historical changes after recognizing the multivalent and created
nature of the society.
The author builds on her argument
through a social constructionist point of view where she argues that meanings
are political and that they are agreed upon or disputed and that they do not
occur naturally. This is the same way she approaches on other concepts like
race and class. Her reasoning on the issue is mainly influenced by the
post-structuralist school of thoughts which proposes that meanings are
communicated by directly or indirectly contrast through internal
differentiation. Therefore, she suggests the need to examine entirely by
context and consider historical phenomenon and their transformation over time.
The process involves reanalyzing the situations completely and asking how the
society was organized on sexual basis resulting to power inequalities.
definition of gender is broken down into various elements which are:
A constructed element of social
relationships based on perceived differences in sexes.
The created element involves four other
interrelated aspects which are; nominative concept, culturally available
symbol, the subjectivity of identity and gender restrictions. The nominative
concept is the set interpretations the meaning of various symbols which may
tend to limit their metaphoric possibilities. The ideas are expressed in
education, science, law, religion, political ideologies and many more. Culturally
available symbols typically evoke many and contradictory representations. The
subjectivity of identity is where gender identities are contracted and relate
to a broad range of activities historical specific cultural representation and
social organizations. Gender restriction, on the other hand, is where a gender
is not restricted to household or kinship systems. Gender is created through
kinship but not exclusively and comprises of the economy and polity which
operates mostly independently on kinship.
Gender as a way of showing relationships
Through this definition of gender, it is
defined as the main field in which power is articulated. Concepts of gender are
structured through the perception, and established as the objective set to
reference the symbolic and concrete organization of social life.
The author’s comprehension of the gender
also affects all the historical discipline due to her theory revolving around
meanings and truth are not discovered but made. The author, however, has
achieved in convincing the reader that knowledge is the way of life, and it is
inseparable with the social organization since it functions through knowledge.
She believes that the process she has used to analyze gender can also be used
to analyze other issues like social processes, race, religion, and ethnicity
meaning it is a useful category of historical analysis.