Posted by: ghazzu | December 15, 2007

Radical Feminism-week 5

The standpoint that the Radical Feminists have taken is one that opposes the liberal one. It diasgrees on many issues but the one that stood a part the most for me as a reader was the one of reproduction.

Feminists such as Firestone believe that reproduction is the biggest cause and origin of the suppression of women and only when it will not be done naturally will this discrimination eradicate itself. As is said in the chapter: ” Firestone insisted nothing fundamental will change for women so long as natural reproduction remains the rule and artificial or assisted reproduction the exception.”

Interesting it is fairly directly written as Firestone says” Natural reproduction is the root of further evils”.

This standpoint is something that the radical feminists do not agree with. Their perspective on the natural reproduction process is that of liberation in a way and that of power. As Azizah-al-Hibari says in it” Technological reproduction does not equalize the natural reproductive power structure-it inverts it”.  She being a radical-cultural feminist believes that as do the others. Rich argues that the only way to maintain even the smallest amount of power that resides in the hands of women, they have to depend on natural reproduction.

Radical cultural feminists believed that artifical reproduction was the man’s way of ruling over the one thing that he can not do. This was then something that men would have power over. Natural reproduction should be used as a tool and a key against this power of men. The best way to conclude this is by what is said by Rowland has said in this chapter: ” The replacement of women’s childbearing capacity by male-controlled technology would, she said, leave women entirely vulnerable, “without a product” with which “to bargain” with men.

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Posted by: ghazzu | December 15, 2007

Week 9

Adrienne Rich in her chapter brings forth the key elements that are prevelant under every household, buried beneath the cloaks of political injustice. It is poetry that plays an important role in this chapter and also the experience in Vietnam. Furthermore, it is based on how cruelty effects women in ways that it does not on men.

The cruelty that is given the most space is that of rape because it is one of the primary acts of violence that is committed on women worldwide. When placed in Pakistan, one can see numerous cases of violence through rape that have been subjected solely on women. The injustice that women suffer is only added on by the one they have to then witness in the court. This form of dominance in one that is largely attributed to a patriarchy. This ‘practice’ is considered normal and natural. It is an aspect of the society everywhere that can not be done away with because women are considered weak and men strong. This oppression can only be done away with when the characteristics of women and men that have been assigned to them are moved away.

It is when the basis itself is stirred and a place for women is created. Especially in Third world countries, women are violated more strongly because they themselves are unaware of it. They have issues of poverty to deal with and hence more violence is committed on them through this ignorance.  Women are not catered to and that in itself is the biggest obstacle that is faced by them.

Posted by: ghazzu | December 15, 2007

Genders and Sexuality-week 6

This chapter of ‘How natural is normal?’ by Nivedita menon was by far one of the most interesting ones because it grips the readers into thinkining about something that is not a general topic to be studied. “How natural is normal?” This then from the inital stages challenges the society’s structure and framework. The definitions of natural and normal are uprooted and we as the readers are bound to think beyond the ones that have been so mechanically ingrained in our minds. These definitions are like most of the other aspects of our society- are under a patriarchy,

Both the chapters focus on the sexuality and the gendered nature of women. Women are like all the other discriminated minorities subjected to what can be considered one of the harshed realities- ignorance of their human existence. As is commonly said, Science itself is from a man’s perspective. Hence, when sexuality is exposed, it is only hetrosexuality that can be considered normal and natural. The role of hetrosexuality is constantly forced into the minds of women through the different processes of their life.  The questions that arise are, why is it normal for women to like men only? Why is it natural for women to subordinate to men?

The simply answer that can not be objected thorougly is that men are the gender in power. They dominate women and the sexuality of women is thus, natural and normal according to their perception. It is only in the 2nd chapter that the third gender is brought into the picture. The construction of this gender sets the previous two off balance and at times widens the gap between them.

Hence, matters of sexuality and gender are social constructed as has been said earlier on, but this social construction has been designed by men themselves. This era of patriarchy with the emergence of the third gender has to now answer the questions that will be hurled at it. It will have to answer soon.

Posted by: mavra | December 14, 2007

week 10-Tradition

The three readings by Wadud and Mernissi talk about the role of tradition in shaping gender as we see it today. Amina Wadud talks about the process of interpretation of the Koran and how many factors have to be considered and eliminated in order to reach a some what accurate and neutral conclusion about its teachings. She says, ” As such, our earthly existence transforms our perceptions of the text and is equally potentially transformed by the text.” (p.62) This shows that the process of interpretation cannot be a one dimensional process. She talks about analysing the Koran through a hermeneutics circle, which takes everything into account. Wadud goes on to illustrate, in a rational, logical process of inquiry, about how Koran and Islamic tradition says very little about the distinction between men and women. It focuses more on the differences between individuals on the basis of their loyalty to their faith. I believe as long as there is room for any form of distinction, be it in the form of degree of faith it will always be misinterpreted and used to suppress and control the weaker social group. This highly religious distinction will end being translated into a social one as well. Nevertheless, the point of emphasis for her is that social distinctions exist but these should be over-ridden by the religious notion of equality. Fatima Mernissi’s readings “A tradition of Misogyny”, take on a similar process of reinterpreting religious text. She particularly talks about Abu Bakra, one of the companions of the Prophet, and his contribution to the Sahih hadith collection. Mernissi too asks for a re-evaluation of the meanings found in his reported hadith, of the tradition which is thought to construct gender identity in Islam. Like Wadud she talks about keeping every factor in mind which would, in this case, lead us to conclude that the collection of hadith contributed by Abu Bakra are not valid and cannot be made the premise for the gender narrative in Islam as it is highly misleading. In the second half also, Mernissi tries to illustrate how gender can be negotiated in tradition as Islamic inquiry and text provides the individual the space to form an identity, replacing the social that creates stereotypes. However, it is a problematic process as a negotiation between religion and the social self is difficult. 

– Mavra

Posted by: mavra | December 14, 2007

week 9-War, violence and politics

Adrienne Rich talks about her experience with the American Poetry Review and her eventual indifference with this association. This indifference found its root in the issue of the female voice being absent from the literary canon and discourse. Same was the case with the American Poetry review as it selectively Incorporated writing which did not politicise of aggravate current issues. Based on her personal struggle, Rich talks about the importance of reinventing space for the female perspective. she says that the space has to be created for the female perspective as it is usually pushed to the sidelines in a male dominated society.

In her column, Rich writes on the topic of Vietnam and the enormity of the violence that took place there. In her discussion she comes to equating all kinds of political and social violence with sexual violence as both are products of the male created and controlled structure. she goes on to discuss how some violent atrocities are just considered to occur naturally, a permanent existence of deviance which cannot be done away with. Rape is one such act that is considered to exist everywhere since the beginning of organized societies. It is an act which will continue to exist as it is something considered to be part of the male frame of mind “naturally” and therefore a natural part of the societal framework as well. Only recently have efforts been made to illustrate how such a violent act exists in its various manifestation, as a means to assert power over women.

Rape is an act of enormity and consequence. It robs woman of her identity, her position in society and reduces her form a status of an equal individual to one with no rights. Similar issues of a limited attitude and response towards rape exists in Pakistan. Rape cases especially domestic ones are kept hidden, with the belief that it is in man’s nature to be sexually violent. Women also take it as a given that if they enter the public sphere they are automatically making themselves vulnerable to such violence.

Rich gives the example of the two Pablo Neruda poems and illustrates how literature produced by men, seeks to reinforce the role of men and women and the romantic struggle between the genders. The struggle may be romanticized but it is exactly this role allotting which creates space for sexual violence Rich further uses the metaphor of war for rape as a displacement of reality at a time of social crises also makes it natural for soldiers to cross the boundaries of the moral.

The second reading deals with the concept of identity and how socio-political factors cut across religious ones, creating new symbols and new identities. It talks about the question of hijab and discusses how religious choice became a national issue in Gaza. In order for the Islamic Resistance Movement to have influence it was important for them to distinguish themselves as a different social force. This reading highlights, how in such a situation an issue as private as personal attire and lifestyle becomes politicized and a symbol which is thrust upon women without their choice. This shows how women are considered to be a non entity in the dynamic of political and social power struggle.

-Mavra

Posted by: ghazzu | December 14, 2007

Who are we?

If only this question was as simple as the three words it can be said in. This is one of the most fundamental question that needs answering but at the same time is the most misunderstood.We, what is we? For that a certain amount of unity and solidarity is required and furthermore, even some form of a common ground. If we differentiate only our ownselves, the ones who do have a comfortable life, have had proper education and some kind of ‘exposure’, then we become the ‘other women’. Women who are not like us than happen to make up almost all of Pakistan. We then align ourselves to be heartless people. Women from all stratas combined, women from lower classes voicing their problems and advantaged women helping them. That is when a we will be formulated.Hence, just as Feminism itself needed to go back to the history, the root cause of everything, so do we. We need to start with the family level. That is the first form of socialization. That is where beliefs and values need to be established in a more open minded way. A son needs to be taught the importance of respecting women at a young age so that later on rather than exploiting and abusing women, he can proudly stand with women, rather than against them.More basic issues should be addressed and women have to be a collective force. The stereotyping of women has to be erased. To figure out we, we ourselves wont be able to achieve the answer. We will short live our struggle but if we do achieve some form of self realization as a whole, we will outlive our own selves.Ghazzu

Posted by: ghazzu | December 14, 2007

Components of feminist theory

Mies, Maria exquisitely packs her entire thought of the chapter in a few lines saying, ‘ the battle is not between particular groups with common interests or political goals and some external enemy, but takes place within women and men and between women and men’.   The most intriguing facet of her chapter is how she strongly propogands the internal struggle for women that is predominately structured between women and women. Feminism had to at it’s heart be a collective phenomenon, however, what was not foreseen was the opposition that would be encountered by the different spectrum of women spread around the arena.  Mies, Maria expediates by constantly reaverting to the word ‘Freminism’ as it was the term that was considered Western and bad. Feminists were looked down upon by other stratas of women because it was seen as an off shoot of colonialism. Feminism has to still face it’s biggest enemy that is the derogatory connotation of the term ‘other women’. It is this struggle between the ‘other’ and the ’self’. Where as women from the third world countries sought to personally disassociate themselves from the ‘other women’ and furthered themselves away from this western branch of thought.The women from the third world were concerned with issues related more to the heart; those of poverty and graver in nature. Their battle is a more necessity based one and a more internal one. But, that is what the feminists tried stripping away, this notion of feminism not being just as important an issue to be dealt with. They needed to be a collective force to be an effective one and thus they sought to achieve some common ground.  However, women from the Third world had issues of survival at stake, not of men.That is what Bulbeck introduces by differentiating between the First world and third world. Her introductory chapter is then focused more on the history of history itself.   Therefore, Feminism can not only be seen as a theory alone, it has to be understood in the structures and history that it is born and cultivated in. 

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