“Weekly Blog Post”: Week #6: Local, Transnational, Global
Women of the World
Despite the obvious week 6 theme being “Local, Transnational, Global,” I would argue that the theme should have been, “Overload of Information.” I really, strongly feel that I learned a TON this week. It might even be possible that I learned more this week than I learned any other week of this course. I gained new knowledge on how other societies may view our (American) ideologies, the meanings and connotations of some different terms that are used to identify or describe women, and ideas on the subordination of women.
My newfound knowledge on how other societies may view our ideologies came from Abu-Lughod. The statement from this reading that resonated with me the most was: “My point is to remind us to be aware of differences, respectful of other paths toward social change that might give women better lives. Can there be a liberation that is Islamic? And, beyond this, is liberation even a goal for which all women or people strive? Are emancipation, equality, and rights part of a universal language we must use?” (Abu-Lughod 788) I really, specifically enjoy discovering new ways to think about things and this situation fits that description perfectly. I had never thought about my society viewing Islamic societies and judging their treatment of women as “wrong.” Islamic societies very well may also view our (Americans) society’s treatment of women as being “wrong.” Even if these societies have just as strong of opinions on the subject as we do, it may be argued fairly strongly that these societies do not try to impress their beliefs on us as much as we do on them. This is a fairly basic thought, yet it fascinated me because it was something that I had never thought of or had been brought to my attention before.
Next, I learned about the meanings and connotations of some different terms that are used to identify or describe women. This came up in the discussion of “sex workers” and their “central issues.” “Identity, rights, working conditions, decriminalization, and legitimacy have been central issues collectively addressed by prostitutes for many years. Through these struggles the notion of the sex worker has emerged as a counterpoint to traditionally derogatory names, under the broad banner of a prostitutes’ rights movement, with some parts recovering and valorizing the name and identity of “whore”” (Kempadoo 4).
I learned about different ideas in regards to the subordination of women in society. Mohanty stated that, “…concepts like reproduction, the sexual division of labour, the family, marriage, household, patriarchy, etc., are often used without their specification in local cultural and historical contexts. These concepts are used by feminists in providing explanations for women’s subordination, apparently assuming their universal applicability. For instance, how is it possible to refer to ‘the’ sexual division of labour when the content of this division changes radically from one environment to the next, and from one historical juncture to another? ” (Mohanty 15-16) The last part of this quote is what really stuck with me. I don’t even know where to begin to answer such a question. Although I can’t answer that question, the point has been made: Women’s role in society, being a subordinate figure, may be exemplified around the world.
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2002. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others.” American Anthropologist 104(1):783-90.
Mohanty, Chandra. 1988. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Feminist Review 30:61-88.
Kempadoo, Kamala. 1998. “Globalizing Sex Workers’ Rights.” Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 22(3/4):143-50.