Comps Notes: Modes of Feminism

male-dominated-cultureTransnational Feminism  seeks to create feminist solidarity across national and cultural borders in order to fight systems of oppression, but without losing cultural and historical specificity. It promotes an understanding that gender is socially constructed and does not function in isolation from other identities such as race, ethnicity, religion, class, nation, or sexual orientation. Therefore, in order to understand and fight the oppression of women, one must understand the way that femininity and power are constructed and deployed within specific times and places. Transnational feminism is also interested in the ways that systems of economic and political power move across national borders, as in the case of global capitalism. Solidarity is thus constituted by like political agenda rather than by a shared identity based on gender, race, class, etc.

In Feminism without Borders, Chandra Talpade Mohanty writes, “this is a vision of the world that is pro-sex and -woman, a world where women and men are free to live creative lives, in security and with bodily health and integrity, where they are free to choose whom they love, and whom they set up house with, and whether they want to have or not have children; a world where pleasure rather than just duty and drudgery determine our choices, where free and imaginative exploration of the mind is a fundamental right; a vision in which economic stability, ecological sustainability, racial equality, and redistribution of wealth form the material basis of people’s well-being” (3) Her politics are thus based on decolonization, anticapitalist critique, and solidarity.

She also likens transnational feminist communities to imagined communities, “‘imagined’ not because it is not ‘real’ but because it suggests potential alliances and collaborations across divisive boundaries, and ‘community’  because in spite of internal hierarchies within Third World contexts, it nevertheless suggests a significant, deep commitment to what Benedict Anderson, in referring to the nation, calls ‘horizontal comradeship.'” (46) In other words, rather than relying on reductionist or essentialist ideas of what constitutes a woman, solidarity in transnational feminism is derived from the members of the community imagining commonality amongst themselves and investing in the good of the community over and against actual political and economic inequalities that may exist between members of the community.

Global Feminism on the other hand, tries to organize feminist coalitions under one consistent feminist ideology. These discourses often rely on a notion of sisterhood that constructs women as oppressed by systems of patriarchy everywhere and aim to dismantle the predominant systems of global patriarch, i.e. global capitalism, domestic violence, etc.

Postcolonial Feminism responds to “Western” feminist traditions that have neglected to take non-Western perspectives into account, especially as Western feminists hold relative cultural privilege through their socioeconomic status and position within certain empires. Therefore, postcolonial feminism demands a closer look at the intersections between gender and colonial power, race, and class. It is closely allied with black feminism, Third World feminism, and Chicana feminism.

Multicultural Feminism, again, emphasizes differences among women (based on race, ethnicity, class, and so on) and focuses on coalition-building among different groups of women. Unlike transnational feminism, this might occur within a specific national context, for example just in the United States.

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