Understanding The Reshaping Of Womens Role Cultural Studies Essay

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What modern feminism articulates was already demonstrated by Mugo and Thomas in the early seventies through their poems interrogating patriarchal gender biases. Their poems depict women with rounded human attributes women who can weep and fight heartily and who can bow in deference even as they proceed to their goals. The poetic characters therefore demonstrate the complexity of women as subjects with empathy and assertiveness as they navigate the maze of multiple subjugations.

Micere Mugo [1] 's "From A Zulu Mother's Diary" is an antiapartheid poem in which the persona, a wife and mother, recounts the story of the dispossession of black Africans by the white South African regime, personified in the poem as bwana, the white man/master. Bwana entered into a pact with the black husband of the persona at a meeting in which the woman was excluded. The bwana "composed and dictated the fact they signed", but the treaty pushed the African to an inferior position where he became the servant or "boy" to bwana. The poem therefore is a poetic rendition of the colonization of Africans. What is presented as a friendly encounter between two races is shown to be a dubious pact of gender exclusion that turned into a sinister relationship of class and racial subjugation. Gender in the poem is totalizing and does not query the role of white women "as wives of colonizers and collaborators with colonialism".

Centering on gender, the lyric is rendered in the form of an address by a wife to her husband and reveals the woman's awareness of her marginalization by her husband, who excluded her from men's secret meetings. The arrangement of the pact was men's affair, as it did not involve black women or white women. Only the white man, his son, and the black husband participated in the brief action that had far-reaching consequences for women, as well as men, and the future represented by the woman's child. It is the injustice of jeopardizing the future that propels the woman's militancy.

Incarceration [2] of Africans has produced; and which can only be eradicated by liberty, when "the animal will be out of me/ For then I will be free." This indicates the seemingly contradictory connection of subjugation and insurgency cause and effect. This kind of link is often untold in texts of oppressors whose perspectives hardly implicate their actions in the counteractions such as liberation struggles or "insurgency." The poem suggests that the link of both-cause and effect-will lead to the birth of freedom. The poet's use of animal as a symbol is therefore appropriate in delineating the effect of subjugation on the persona's character. It is clear that the militancy of Thomas's persona results from the subjugation that she suffers, and not from love of chaos, because it is the caging of the animal that makes it tear the cage.

This kind of scenario is not only true of South Africa but also of other post independent African countries in which the governments try to suppress opposition. Indeed, the metaphor is not limited to Africa, but applies as well to the spread of new forms of postcolonial and global supremacys that give rise to insurgencies. The metaphor is transformed in "My Burden" as the "Stern man of law with red face/ Brass buttons and gold stripes on his coat of grey". The man of law has a "bloody" face that symbolizes death, and wears gold stripes which are a symbol of war, money, and militarism. This is a picture of an ugly capitalism that benefits from the blood of its victims.

This poetic picture of violence resonates in the reality of post apartheid writing such as Farida Karodia [3] 's 'Against an African Sky', which focuses on the dilemma of the new state faced with violence and insecurity. Privileged South Africans buy big houses, drive posh cars, and live in the twenty-first century while the majority still live in a warlike nightmare. According to Jahan, the hero of Farida's text, "The rules have changed, but the game goes on as before .The violence, which is confined mainly to the townships, is ignored by the white population, as long as it remains black-on-black violence". This kind of situation resonates in Zimbabwean literature. For example, Without a Name and under the Tongue by Yvonne Vera is a depiction of the insecurity, violence, and eclipse of values in the postwar landscape of Zimbabwe. This is similar, though not analogous, to the current Zimbabwean example described by Linndgreen as a situation in which there is strong cultural resistance of state violence that Chipungu connects with postcolonial contradictions and exclusions.

The point here is that the ugliness of today's Southern Africa sounds like an echo of the brutality that made the persona of "My Burden," resigns to sorrow because it focuses on the brutalization and supremacy of three generations of Africans by colonialists, and recounts the death of the great-grandfather in war against the colonials. In the second stanza, she dwells on slavery and the slave trade, represented by the sale of the grandfathers and their enslavement in "enemy land." The third stanza recalls the exclusion of the father from the affairs of his land. The fourth and last stanza concerns the offspring, who represents the present generation that refuses to succumb to the colonialist.

The mime dramatizes the slave trade and enslavement of Africans in America. It provides a basis for the armed struggle dramatized in the play, showing that the African freedom fighters are not terrorists, but people that are reacting to centuries of bondage and colonial violence. This view, which is shared by many Africans, is contrary to the perspective of the colonialists Nwokeji [4] . Similarly, the provision of the background of conquest and enslavement in the poem "Rhodesia" offers a justification for the present conflict and fuels the determination of the fighters.

A complex kind of empathy, attraction, inquisitiveness, and identification, compel many African writers from the privileged class to use or include the voices of traditional Africans in their writings. Mugo speaks of women who gird wrappers rather than Western suits and gowns, while Thomas talks about women with djambo. The characters are at the center of the ecosystem involving their children, men, women, and their environment and who are therefore appropriate voices through which to delineate the conflict.

Writing at a time when most African writers largely used male voices to speak for women, the poets provide the African women's voice in modern poetry. Their characters engage in a double-edged war in which they fight colonialism while at the same time query of gender. The focus on colonialism and apartheid is so pervasive that it supports the sustained portrayal of the militant persona, and raises gender questions as important teasers that connect with current debates on post colonialism, sisterhood and bonding, patriarchal exclusion, feminisms, and difference.

These are pressing issues that need more poetic attention, because of their centrality in women's lives that are inextricably bound with men's and children's lives. The poets' postcolonial gender engagement shows that they are influenced by an African humanism that encourages inclusive rather than exclusive gender liberation, because their female characters are not interested in narrow individualism and the feminism of exclusion but rather tackle the multi headed bull-hog, that is, multiple repressions from gender, class, race, and colonialism. The poets are, therefore, in the vanguard of writers who dispel the idea of African women as silent and docile victims.

They combine the domestic roles with public tasks and act as commanders, military strategists, and directors of operation. While we note the peculiar nature of Southern African women's experience of traditional gender suppression heightened by racial, colonial and class suppression, and so do not want to "level subjugation" of women in patriarchy, it is necessary to note an intersection analogy, of the militant woman's experience with the American super-mom syndrome. The militant woman is operating under an emergency situation, combining tasks in order to meet the exigencies of the situation, and so becomes the "super woman" of liberation struggle at the forefront of domestic, public, and in-between spheres.

The way many American women try to excel at both the public and domestic spheres has led to the "super-mom" syndrome, which connotes the effort of women who try to balance career and families. It is a situation that many women increasingly find problematic because of its unhealthy issues, but it nevertheless intersects with that of the majority of women in many parts of the world where women do a "double shift" by covering household chores, family, and childcare in addition to other jobs in the public sphere. The poetic personality of this discussion represents women who are more than super-moms because of their strategic positional in embattled settings and the heroic stance they take.

Black feminist notion exhibit Black women's budding power as representative of knowledge. By representing Afro-American women as self-sufficient, self-reliant individuals tackling race, gender, and class supremacy, Afro-centric feminist consideration speaks to the importance that supremacy, Afro-centric feminist consideration talks about the significance that knowledge plays in making powerful the subjugated people. One distinctive attribute of Black feminist notion is its assertion that both the altered perception of individuals and the social revolution of political and economic organizations constitute essential items for social change. New knowledge is critical for both dimensions to change.

Knowledge is a fundamentally important part of the societal relations of supremacy and confrontation. By objectifying Afro-American women and recasting our understanding to cater to the interests of privileged white men, greatly of the Euro-centric masculinist worldview promotes Black women's subjugation. But keeping in view the Black women's experiences at the core of analysis offers unmarked insights on the existing conceptions, notions, and epistemologies of this worldview and on its feminist and Afro-centric critiques. Screening the world through an intangible lens of the simultaneity of race, category, and gender supremacy and of the requirement for a humanist visualization of community creates new potential for an empowering Afro centric feminist knowledge. Many Black feminist scholars have long consideration about the world in this way for the reason that this is the way we understand the world.

Afro-centric feminist consideration offers two important contributions toward tethering our understanding of the significant connections among awareness, consciousness, and the political affairs of empowerment. First, Black feminist notion cultivates an elementary paradigmatic shift in how we perceive subjugation. By accepting a paradigm of race, category, and gender as intertwining systems of subjugation, Black feminist idea re conceptualizes the social relations of supremacy and opposition. Second, Black feminist notion addresses continuing epistemological discussions in feminist theory and in the sociology of information pertaining to ways of assessing "truth." Offering secondary groups new awareness about their experiences can be empowering. But illuminating new ways of knowing that permit lower groups to define their own actuality has far better proposition.

Viewing relations of supremacy for Black women for any given socio historical circumstance as being prepared via a system of intertwining race, category, and gender subjugation expands the focal point of analysis from simply describing the resemblance and differences distinguishing these schemes of subjugation and emphasize more on how they interconnect. Assume that each organization needs the others in order to function makes a discrete theoretical standpoint that stimulates the re analysis of basic social science concepts.

Afro-centric feminist notions of family echo this reconceptualization procedure. Black women's experiences as blood mothers, other mothers, and community other mothers expose that the imaginary norm of a heterosexual, wedded couple, nuclear family with a nonworking spouse and a husband earning a "family wage" is distant from being natural, universal and preferred but instead is totally rooted in specific race and class construction. A Plasma Afro-American woman in the focal point of analysis not only discloses much-needed knowledge about Black women's experiences but also inquires Eurocentric masculinity viewpoint on family.

Black women's understanding and the Afro-centric feminist consideration rearticulating them also challenge existing meaning of community. Black women's dealings in the struggle imply a idea of community that stands in disagreement to that existing in the dominant culture. The explanation of community implied in the market model perceives community as random and fragile, organized fundamentally by competition and supremacy.

On the other hand, Afro-centric models of community pressure connections, caring, and personal responsibility. As cultural workforce Afro-American women have abandoned the generalized ideology of supremacy advanced by the governing group in order to conserve Afro-centric conceptualizations of community. Deprived of access to the podium, Black women have not able to expend time theorizing about substitute conceptualizations of community. As an alternative, through daily dealings Afro-American women have shaped substitute communities that empower.

On the other hand, in dissimilarity to this body of literature whose remembrance of women's power is frequently accompanied by a shortage of attention to the significance of power as supremacy, Black women's experiences as mothers, community other mothers, educators, church leaders, labor union center-women, and community leaders appear to suggest that authority as energy can be encouraged by creative acts of confrontation.

The spheres of authority created and sustained by Afro-American women are not only to offer relief from domineering circumstances or a retreat from their outcome. Rather, these Black female orbs of power constitute potential sanctuaries where Black women and men are raised in order to face harsh social institutions. Power from this point of view is an innovative power used for the betterment of the community, whether that community is considered as one's family, church community, or the next generation of the community's children.

By making the society stronger, Afro-American women develop into empowered, and that same community can offer as a source of backup when Black women come across race, gender, and class supremacy. Approaches that presuppose that race, gender, and class are interrelated have immediate practical appliance. For instance, Afro-American women continue to be inefficiently protected by Rights Act of 1964. The most important purpose of the statute is to exterminate all aspects of discrimination. But judicial dealing of Black women's employment inequity claims has encouraged Black women to recognize race or sex as the primary bias. "To resolve the inequity that Black women face," counsels Scarborough, the courts must first properly conceptualize them as 'Black women,' a discrete class protected." Such a shift, from secluded categories to protected classes of group whose title claims might be banking upon more than two inequities, would work to amend the entire basis of present antidiscrimination efforts.

Reconceptualizing process such as the rapid increase of female-headed households in Afro-American society would also profit from a race-, class-, and gender-inclusive investigation. Case studies of Black women leaded households must be attentive to ethnically segmented local labor marketplace and community patterns, to alterations in local political economies specific to a certain city or region, and to conservative racial and gender ideology for a given place. This advance would go far to deconstruct Eurocentric, masculinity analyses that totally rely on controlling images of the matriarch or the welfare mother as guiding conceptual premises. Black feminist thinking that reshape experiences such as these cultivate an enhanced theoretical perception of how race, gender, and class supremacy are part of a coalesced previously created system.

Additive model of supremacy are firmly embedded in the either or dichotomous judgment of Eurocentric, masculinity conception. An individual should be a white or a black in such thought systems - persons of uncertain racial and ethnic individuality constantly battle with issues such as "what are your, anyway?" This importance on quantification and categorization arise in conjunction with the conviction that either categories must be ranked. The hunt for certainty of this sort necessitates that one side of a dichotomy is advantaged while its other is denigrated. Privilege becomes definite in relation to its other.

Substituting additive models of subjugation with interconnecting ones creates potential for new paradigms. The importance of seeing race, class, and gender as interconnecting systems of subjugation is that such an approach cultivates a exemplary shift of thinking about other subjugations, such as age, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Race, class, and gender symbolize the three systems of subjugation that most heavily affect Afro-American women. But these systems and the political, economic, and ideological circumstances that sustain them may not be the most fundamental subjugations, and they certainly influence many other groups than Black women. Other people such as Jews, people of color, gays, poor white women, and the lesbians have all had similar ideological explanation offered for their subordination. All kinds of humans labeled Others have been compared to one another, to animals, and to nature.

Placing Afro-American women and other not included groups in the center of analysis opens up potential for a conceptual stance, one in which all groups have varying amounts of punishment and privilege in one previously created system. In this system, for instance, white women are punished by their gender but advantaged by their race. Depending on the situation, an individual may be an oppressor, oppresses or both at the same time.

Sticking to a both and conceptual standpoint does not mean that gender, race and category are subjugation are interchangeable. For example, whereas race, category, and gender subjugation operate on the societal structural level of institutions, gender subjugation seems better able to take control of the basic power of the erotic and interrupt in personal relationships via family dynamics and inside individual realization.

This may be because racial subjugation has cultivated historically solid communities among Afro-Americans and other racial ethnic groups. These groups have stirred cultures of resistance. While these communities separate out Blacks from whites, they at the same time provide counter-institutional cushion that subordinate groups such as Afro-Americans use to resist the ideas and institutions of leading groups. Social class may be equally structured. Conventionally conceptualized as a relationship of an individual to their employers, social class might be more appropriately viewed as a relationship of communities to capitalist political economies. In addition, noteworthy overlap exists between racial and social class subjugation when viewing them via the combined lens of family and community. Existing community composition provide a primary line of confrontations against racial and class subjugation. But because gender cross-cuts these formations, it finds fewer comparable institutional bases to promote conflict.

taking up a both and conceptual standpoint moves us from collectivec, separate systems approaches to subjugation and toward what I now see as the more fundamental issue of the social relations of supremacy. Race, class, and gender constitute axis of subjugation that characterize Black women's experiences inside a more generalized matrix of supremacy. Other groups may come across different dimensions of the matrix, namely sexual orientation, religion, and age, but the predominant relationship is one of supremacy and the types of activism it generates. This politic of supremacy refers to the ideological position that they share, which is a trust in supremacy, and a confidence in the notions of higher and lower, which are constituents of all those systems. For me it's like a house, where they share the establishment, but the groundwork is the ideological beliefs around which ideas of supremacy are constructed.

Johnella Butler [5] declare that new methodologies budding from this new archetype would be "non-hierarchical" and would also "refuse dominance to race, category, gender, or ethnicity, demanding instead an identification of their matrix-like interaction." Race, category, and gender possibly will not be the most elementary or important systems of subjugation, but they have most strongly affected Afro-American women. One important dimension of Black feminist ideology is its potential to expose insights about the social relations of supremacy organized along other axes such as religion, traditions, sexual orientation, and age. Examining Black women's particular experiences thus assure to reveal much about the more worldwide process of supremacy.

Despite being prepared on axis such as race, gender, and social class, the prevailing conditions of supremacy is structured on many levels. People experience and resist subjugation on three levels: the level of personal memoirs; community of the cultural context which is created by race, category, and gender; and the universal level of social institutions. Black feminist ideology highlights all three levels as sites of dominance and as potential sites of confrontation.

Each individual has a distinct personal biography made up of solid experiences, values, inspirations, and finer humane emotions. No two individuals share the same social space; and hence no two biographies are similar. Human ties can be freeing and empowering, as is the scenario with Black women's heterosexual love associations or in the power of motherhood in Afro-American families and societies. Human ties can also be imprisoning and oppressive. Circumstances of domestic violence and exploitation or cases in which controlling images promote Black women's internalized subjugation represent supremacy on the personal level.

The same circumstances can look quite diverse depending on the perception one brings to understand it. This degree of individual consciousness is an elementary area where new awareness can generate change. Conventional accounts assume that power as domination operates in the direction from top to bottom by forcing and controlling disinclined victims to bend to the force of more influential superiors. But these accounts are unsuccessful to account for all the issues concerning why, for example, the women would still stay with abusive men even when they have enormous opportunity to leave or why is that slaves do not resort to killing their own owner more often. The compliance of the victim to be a part in her or his own victimization is lost. They also do not succeed to account for sustained opposition by victims, even when likelihood for victory appears remote. By highlighting the potential of self-definition and the importance of a free mind, Black feminist ideology speaks to the significance Afro-American women thinkers place on self realization as a sphere of freedom. Black women thinkers realize that dominance operates not only by forcing power from the top to the bottom but by simultaneously taking control of the power if those at the bottom for their own benifit. In their efforts to reshape the standpoint of Afro-American women as a community, Black feminist scholars offer individual Afro-American women the abstract tools to resist subjugation.

The cultural framework formed by those experiences and ideas which when are shared with the remaining members of a group or community in turn end up giving meaning to individual biographies which comprise of a second level at which domination is experienced and opposed. Each unique biography is embedded in many overlapping cultural contexts, for instance, communities defined by race, social category, age, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. The cultural attribute add to among other things, the conception utilized in thinking and acting accordingly, group confirmation of an individual analysis of concepts, the "thought models" used in the attainment of knowledge, and principles used to evaluate individual perception and behavior.

The subjugated knowledge is gathered and developed under the control of dominated communities in the cultural context, such as a Black women's culture of resistance. The more dominant and powerful groups intend to modify the subjugated knowledge with their own thoughts and believes as they recognize that controlling the subordinate group will be simplified if they can gain control over this dimension of the oppressed groups. While the efforts to achieve the goal of influencing the dimension of an oppressed group's experiences can be partially successful, this level is even more complex to have power over than dominant groups would have us believe. For instance, sticking to extrinsically derivative standard of beauty lead many Afro-American women to unlike their own hair and attributes of skin color. At the same time, the Eurocentric gender notion caused some of the Black men to abuse Black women. The incidents such as above the proofs of the successful infusion of the dominant group's ulterior belief into the everyday cultural perspective of Afro-Americans. But the very old survival of a Black women's culture of confrontation as expressed through Black women's associations with one another, the Black women's blues tradition, and the voices of contemporary Afro-American women writers all attest to the difficulty of eliminating the cultural context as a fundamental site of resistance.

Supremacy 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 group's standpoint 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 Afro-American women thinkers such as Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston [6] , and Fannie Lou Hamer who, though excluded from and or marginalized within such institutions, continued to produce theory effectively opposes this hegemonic view. Moreover, the more recent resurgence of Black feminist thought within these institutions, the case of the outpouring of contemporary Black feminist thought in history and literature, directly challenges the Eurocentric masculinist thought pervading these institutions.

Lorde and Bambara's 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 subjugation--whether it be by race, social class, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or gender--they typically fail to see how their thoughts and actions uphold someone else's subordination. Thus white feminists routinely point with confidence to their subjugation as women but resist seeing how much their white skin privileges them. Afro-Americans who possess eloquent analyses of racism 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 subjugation with which it feels most comfortable as being fundamental and classifies all others as being of lesser importance. Subjugation is filled with such contradictions because these approaches fail to recognize that a matrix of supremacy contains few pure victims or oppressors. Each individual derives varying amounts of penalty and privilege from the multiple systems of subjugation which frame everyone's lives.

A broader focus stresses the interconnecting nature of subjugations that are structured on multiple levels, from the individual to the social structural, and which are part of a larger matrix of supremacy. 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 supremacy is structured along certain axes--race, gender, and class being the axes of investigation for African American women--reveals that different systems of subjugation may rely in varying degrees on systemic versus interpersonal mechanisms of supremacy.

Empowerment involves rejecting the dimensions of knowledge, whether personal, cultural, or institutional, that perpetuate objectification and dehumanization. Afro-American 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 cultivate our humanity as fully human subjects. This is the case when Black women value our self-definitions, participate in a Black women's activist tradition, invoke an Afro centric feminist epistemology as central to our worldview, and view the skills gained in schools as part of a focused education for Black community development.