The Masterís Tools and The Third Wave

After finishing the first Mars book, that I spoke about yesterday, I've ritually (twice makes a ritual) returned to my habit of coming to the basement of the library and sitting in front of the window until the battery on my iPod dies, whilst doing some of the reading for this week. This entry represents my study break. I'm almost sad that I finished Red Mars, which means I get to tear through two feminist volumes. Today (thus far) is this rather awesome collection of third wave essays for my feminisms class; I have another two thirds to go, and plenty of time to get it done. Then the second wave book, which is shorter, and for Sociology Class; thanks to modernism, it'll inevitably easier to understand and absorb.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the course guide will be out very soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, so I hope that it'll all work out right; though I have a triage plans if things don't work out well.

Anyway, the topic at hand…

In 1979 Andre Lorde wrote an essay called "The Master's Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master's House." Basically she says that if you want to affect change , you can't work within the system. The tools of oppression cannot be reversed in order to create positive change. I don't know, the title embodies the entire concept for me: feminists must approach the struggle for justice using fresh and unique approaches and methods to deconstruct patriarchy (and reconstruct social reality/theory). Lorde's more specific point was one of solidarity (as I remember). That one could not advocate for female liberation without arguing for gay and lesbian liberation; that one could not argue for racial equality without arguing for class equality, and that racial and class equality is very much a part of female liberation and feminism. I'd also add that transgender rights are integral in this struggle.

I would argue that we need, from the beginning, to integrate and resolve the contradictions between coalition/solidarity work and affinity work. But balance of disparate but necessarily interrelated struggles is often lost between the cracks, so I'll forgive it in this case.

Half of the post subject addressed, here's the meat of the issue.

One of the big issues of the third wave is the transnationalization of feminism. And everyone goes a long with this and keeps saying "what we need to work on is accepting all different kinds of feminisms and feminists. That feminism isn't about abortion, equal rights, economic freedom, and political parity, but it's about female empowerment in whatever issues are important to the individual feminist.

Ok, I can buy that. My issues aren't your issues, and your issues aren't mine; but because we're both working for the same thing, we should support each other and collaborate when our issues overlap. It works, again it's more affinity-esque and less coalition (but then I think affinity works better on a smaller scale, and the coalition works better for the large scale, but that's me. My feminism isn't your feminism; so maybe our struggle isn't one.) This will take some time to make sure it jives, because it doesn't fit completely, but I don't think that's the issue at the moment.

The form that this decentralized transnational feminism takes most often is the proliferation of non-governmental organizations providing services to the third world. The movement of money across borders as part of a global economy.

I don't know about you, but this seems a lot like the master's tools. In this context NGOs are empowering women yes, but mainly in terms of a western definition of power, which brings them into the global economy. What next? Bam! Right back where we started, because the cottage industry is just a new kind of dependence.

I think we need to find something a lot better before we dive head first into it.

There, one down. Next time (perhaps later tonight), as everyone is talking about the election that doesn't matter, I might just write something up about independent media and TealArt, as some of the other essays sort of relate to this subject that I've been pondering forever it seems. Anyway, cheers!

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