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What Is The Real In The Girl Effect-Polishekian Fantasy?

Decent Essays
According to Caron and Margolin programs like The Girl Effect are a Žižekian fantasy. The "Žižek concept of fantasy works to construct realities in a way that disallows individuals from recognizing the ‘Real’, understood as a traumatic realization"(Caron and Margolin 2). In this case the 'Real' is the fact that women and girls are systematically and economically disadvantaged, which is a traumatic realization for society about the reach and influence of patriarchy and sexism. In order to avoid coming to that traumatic realization people "construct fantasies or ‘less traumatic problems’ to focus their efforts on in order to divert attention away from the Real issue at hand" (Caron and Margolin 2). The development projects like The Girl Effect…show more content…
First, I agree with Gosser and van der Gaag that a cow cannot lead to structural change. These programs rely too greatly on the myth of the " individual women" who will become the catalyst of change after being fixed (Grosser and van de Gaag 77). Education is normally the solution provided to fix women. If one woman could change the world so easily by going to school why hasn't she already? The very basis of The Girl Effect, which says that westerners need to go to the Third World and promote girl's potential, illustrates that the issues is not that girls do not possess potential, but that society ignores it. Therefore development cannot come from a simple, practical fix like keeping a girl in school, but must derive from cultural paradigm shift. A further support for this idea is that even with more education the pay gap between girls and boys isn't decreasing (Grosser and van der Gaag 78). Moreover, Grosser and van de Gaag illustrate that the "individual woman" fix is not new, but another old development practice recreated to fit this fantasy. Second, the fantasy critique illustrates most clearly how women are still used as a tool for the development and betterment of others. Both Caron and Margolin, and Gosser and van de Gaag emphasize how such girl-based programs are just reinvented versions of the efficiency argument. The idea that a woman's value is derived from her ability to create…show more content…
This is not to undermine that women should be the subjects of aid, but to examine the ways fantasy aid actually leads to increasingly detrimental inter-gender relations. Many of these programs use the language of empowerment, but it is really empowerment lite, which does not benefit women. According to Grosser and van de Gaag " without a focus on boys as well as girls, programs may train girls, giving them skills and confidence, but this can in turn put them in danger of backlash from those around them who see their new self-esteem as a threat" (79). This is the same idea as fixing a girl by giving her a cow, what does training truly do to unravel systems of oppression and domination, if only half the population is trained? Grosser and van de Gaag's article further highlights that creating powerful changes in a society requires working with the powerful in order to insure their participation in the future (Grosser and van de Gaag 79). Just how ignoring women in the past hurt development programs, ignoring men will not help the new initiatives. The vital element in my opinion is to empower men but not masculinity, by dismantling the oppressive ways patriarchy has affected their interactions with themselves and society. Programs focused on male empowerment, where they denounce the importance of violence and domination to gain power, are vital as a counterpart to the
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