Under Western Eyes by Mohanty

1381 Words 6 Pages
In this text Mohanty argues that contemporary western feminist writing on Third World women contributes to the reproduction of colonial discourses where women in the South are represented as an undifferentiated “other”. Mohanty examines how liberal and socialist feminist scholarship use analytics strategies that creates an essentialist construction of the category woman, universalist assumptions of sexist oppression and how this contributes to the perpetuation of colonialist relations between the north and south(Mohanty 1991:55). She criticises Western feminist discourse for constructing “the third world woman” as a homogeneous “powerless” and vulnerable group, while women in the North still represent the modern and liberated woman …show more content…
She makes an important point when trying to go beyond the female (otherness), by paying careful attention to differences among women themselves, and by putting emphasize on the multiple realties that women faces, and by that trying to uncover universalist interpretations (Parpart and Marchand 1995:6). She reveals the inadequacy of binary categories by showing us how power is defined in binary terms, between the people who have (men) and the people who do not (women). This is a consequence of seeing women as a homogenous group, and contributes to the reinforcement of the binary division between men and women (Mohanty 1991:64). By assuming that women are a already constituted group with the same experiences and interests, gender is looked upon as something that can be applied cross cultures (Mohanty 1991:54), and it also produces an assumption about the “average third world woman” as poor and uneducated, in contrast to the educated, modern Western women (Mohanty 1991:56). Implicit in the binary analytic lies the assumption that the third world woman only can be liberated through western rationality. Mohanty is making an important point when emphasising the need to challenge these objectifications (Udayagiri 1995:163).

Mohantys emphasis on historical, spatial and cultural specificity contributes to important insights on how different contexts influence on women’s lives, and challenges the fact that much of the discourse of
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