Third World Women

1523 Words 6 Pages
In today’s society, the reduction of cultural diversity through the popularization and diffusion of a wide array of cultural symbols has disallowed an honest conversation between African and Western feminists because Western feminists tend to take the position of superiority. Western women have a tendency to believe that they are more liberated than non-Western women, and therefore have the responsibility to ensure that other women can achieve a similar liberation. For instance, in the remarkable works of Obioma Nnaemeka, Bringing African Women into the Classroom: Rethinking Pedagogy and Epistemology, the author explains that when she teaches clitorectomy in her class, she does so “in tandem with teaching abuses of the female body in other …show more content…
Women of Middle Eastern background, especially Algerian, have been classified “less-than-neutral labels of ‘Muslim women,’ ‘Arab women,’ […] giving them an identity that may not be theirs” (Lazreg 2005, 68). The label “Third World Women” defines a woman based on her religion and ethnicity. According to Lazreg, “the language of race belongs to the history of social segregation. To argue that minority and third World women have adopted the term “women of color” as a liberating means to assert their difference and escape a homogenizing Anglo-American feminist discourse begs the question” (Lazreg 2005, 69). It is not “women of color” whom has the authority to force the meaning of race but the women who implicitly claim to have no color and the need to measure the standard difference. Western feminism comes to function as the norm against which the Third World is judged. If Third World women 's issues are analyzed in detail within the precise social relations in which they occur, then more complex pictures emerge. The impact of American feminism on Third World women has been …show more content…
In Yorùbá society “gender was not an organizing principle prior to colonization by the West” (Oyěwùmí 2005, 99). The physical body is always linked to the social body which influences participation and contribution to cultural symbolization. In the Yorùbá society, instead of the visual logic informing social division and hierarchy, through structures such as gender, sexuality, race and class, Oyewumi argues that, it is in fact seniority that orders and divides the Yoruba society” (Oyěwùmí 2005, 108). Seniority is not just a matter of receiving benefits in everyday life, instead it is a matter of responsibility. However, seniority also refers to an agent’s positioning within the kinship structure. In Yorùbá, the prefixes obínrin and okùnrin are used to specify one’s body by anatomy, unlike the terms woman and man, which are used to determine gender or sex. “Thus, the distinction between obínrin and okùnrin is actually one of reproduction, not one of sexuality or gender, the emphasis being the fact that the two categories play distinct roles in the reproductive process” (Oyěwùmí 2005, 103). In the Yorùbá society, “the social categories ‘men’ and ‘women’ were nonexistent, and hence no gender system was in place” (Oyěwùmí 2005, 99). Oyewumi’s claim for the absence of gender in Yoruba culture and the centrality of seniority as an organizing principle is based on two

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