Gender Oppression within Feminism (RELS 348)

In her article “Reimagining feminism on International Women’s Day” (March 4, 2015), Harsha Walia speaks about feminism that states that we need to end violence against gender through “equality” does not effectively challenge the “economic and political structures of power” (Walia, 2015) that are at play. In fact, many anti-violence movements rely on the state and state funding which is problematic because the state, in many ways, is perpetuating colonial and imperial discourses. According to Walia, Liberal feminism, for example, ‘others’ communities of women who are coloured or who do not fit their definition of what is considered female. In these instances, many women are stripped of their agency rather than being empowered. Western, liberal feminism, according to the author, is aiding in the status quo perpetuated by repressive state apparatuses. Walia believes that settler-colonialism also perpetuates the ‘othering’ of aboriginals. Its very foundation is one of violence. Aboriginal women’s bodies are treated differently than women’s bodies of other races. This gives evidence that there is a plurality of feminisms, not all of which are devoid of colonial violence.

The author asserts that the most relevant and useful forms of feminism include “subversions of the state, capitol interests, gendered relations, and the policing of gender and sexual binaries” (Walia 2015). The author further points out that these subversions will directly challenge liberal feminism by “embracing a multitude of feminisms” in order to “diversify our understandings of how coercion and oppression is experienced a well as resisted”. The author is criticising liberal feminism because it perpetuates colonial violence.

Harsha Walia suggests that we embrace many other types of feminisms in order to open up discussions of oppression. It is important to discuss more than one type of feminism when speaking about women oppression, however, I believe she excluded issues of inconsistencies within the subgroups themselves. Walia does not address that other feminisms can still be in conflict with one another. There are reasons for different branches of feminisms in that each can hold different ideas. Walia doesn’t propose negotiations between these groups which could be problematic. She also should have outlines the ideal female that she spoke about. What would the definition of female be? What comes to my mind is how Uwe Siemon-Netto, in his novel Triumph of the Absurd: A Reporter’s love for the Abandoned people of Vietnam looks at women by giving them fragile and delicate qualities creating a power construction himself.




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