Category: Analysis Essay
Contemporary feminism activists


Today people of the Western culture are used to the idea that women have the same rights and equalities as men. Females, who belong to this form of society, find that it is their obligation to spread the idea of gender equality to the females of other cultures with different social structures and orders. The analysis of the works presented by writers, who belong to non-Western or Third World states, demonstrates that contemporary feminism activists should revise their approach concerning the spread of their ideas since it is difficult for women of other cultures to accept their concepts and views on the role of females in society.

Narayan in her work Dislocating Cultures claims that the perception of feminism in her native country is grounded on the Indian cultural dynamics dictated by her family life, which has surrounded her as a child. The author states that her grandmother used to torment her mother since she was her daughter-in-law (Narayan, 1997, p.7). Simultaneously, her father did not interfere since it was inappropriate for a son to tell his parents what to do. This fact offered him an excuse, although he possessed a Westernized education and understood that it would be right for him to protect his wife. Nonetheless, women in India confront Western feminism. Therefore, the author tries to explain and remind women that they are undergoing a variety of troubles and rather often painful experiences.

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Narayan claims that the rapport of the Indian women with their mothers reminds their relationship with native lands and mother cultures because both of them give Indian women rather contradictive messages. On the one hand, they encourage women to be confident, with high self-esteem; however, on the other hand, they confront feminism (Narayan, 1997, p.8). For example, the author states that her mother, simply like many other women of specific middle-class castes, believed that education is an important thing for a young woman. Thus, they supported economically the studies of their daughters. At the same time, these females, who wanted their daughters to study and get a degree, criticized the effects and results of the education they previously supported. Many women in India believe that some ideas from the books will poison young girls, preventing them from being a good wife (Narayan, 1997, p.8). Consequently, the general opinion claimed that education would destroy the image of the good Indian wife.

Narayan states that the main difficulty for women of the Third World to correctly perceive the Western concepts of feminism lies in a great number of cultural differences between the two worlds. The author claims that contemporary Third World states were created on the basis of the past colonies (Narayan, 1997, p.13). Thereby, there are a number of distinctions between the cultural values. Since the Western civilization featured such notions as equality or liberty, it was usual to present the Western culture as superior and colonized cultures and territories as the victims of the static past, which were not ready to change their traditions, caste system, and customs. One of such traditions, which were hard to change, was the position of a woman in the society.

Since many colonial territories struggled for their independence, and thus did not accept the Western culture and traditions, many women joined the nationalist views that national culture was much better than any culture imposed by the Western powers. Thus, regardless of the fact that the West was able to implement some positive change in Indian society, the latter rejected this opportunity. The author claims that women of the Victorian period believed that they had to save the poor Indian females (Narayan, 1997, p.16). Moreover, in their struggle with the colonial order, even Indian men claimed that one of their goals was to improve the status of the Indian women; though, in general, the male-dominated colonial governments and political movements usually obscured the fact that women were the second-class citizens. Nonetheless, Indian women saw their roles as the carriers of the national spiritual essence (Narayan, 1997, p.17). Thus, it was very hard to develop and spread the concepts of feminism in the territory of the Third World states.

Narayan believes that it is important for the contemporary feminist ideologists to take into consideration the factor of nationalism and national traditions as well as customs when developing feminist concepts. It becomes evident that national contexts are crucial for understanding the instruments needed for successful struggles in some specific territories. Moreover, the author concludes that modern transnational economic systems negatively affect distinct groups of people, including women. Accordingly, an increasing feminist cooperation is required to reach some positive change.

Kandiyoti in the article Bargaining with Patriarchy argues that the analysis of the contemporary females strategies and coping mechanisms aids in understanding the nature of specific patriarchal systems and makes it possible to remove the existing abstract notion of patriarchy, which can be found in the modern feminist theory. A close systematic examination of the womens attempts to understand the patriarchal social system gives the possibility to simultaneously capture and analyze specific features of the patriarchal systems as well as to evaluate how men and women try to cooperate, resist, and adapt to each other in their attempts to reach and possess specific resources, rights, or duties. In addition, such analysis is valuable because it reveals distinct features of the relations between the representatives of some class or race and reveals the strategies used by the conflicting sides and shaped by some social constrains.

The author states that women usually use strategies that bargain with patriarchal structures. These strategies are the scripts that limit, determine, and affect the womens domestic and market options (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.284). Usually, women negotiate the male dominance so that such patriarchal bargains demonstrate females ability to make rational choices, but similarly they show that women usually unconsciously accept their gendered subjectivity. This idea becomes more evident after narrow analysis of patriarchal bargains. For example, the changes in sexual imagery of the Western culture demonstrates that widely shared and spread concepts or ideas concerning sexuality turn into cultural paradigms with time. Simultaneously, these paradigms transform into the rules of normality, which become very hard to fight and change.

However, the author claims that such rules as the sexual paradigms cannot become fully accepted as the rightful laws of social existence, unless they are a part of a bargain. Moreover, the author discovered that patriarchal bargains have two phases, namely the normal phase and the crisis phase (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.285). This discovery is very important for the understanding of how the society actually works. For example, during the normal phase of the classically structured patriarchy, there existed a great number of females, who were facing significant economic troubles. Such category of women included infertile females, who were forced to be divorced, left without any resources, and unprotected because they had no sons. Nonetheless, the community perceived such women as accidental results of the work of the existing social system. Similarly, today the contemporary ideas concerning marriage and divorce, the way of managing household, and division of the duties make it possible to see that the relations between males and females lie within distinct socio-economic systems. Consequently, rather often, the political and economic systems of a specific country dictate the new forms of consciousness and perception of the roles of males and females in society.

Saar in the article Lonely in Your Firm Grip argues that Palestinian women in Israel need to permanently balance between their powers and weaknesses. This issue similarly makes them isolated and lonely participants of the society. The author believes that such necessities are grounded on the familial codes of commitment, which are masculine; thus, they do not take into consideration the needs of the females (Saar, 2001, p.725). This phenomenon uncovers the fact that the codes of familial commitment aimed to satisfy the purposes of the masculine part of society since they had to correspond to patrilineal kin groups. Therefore, the two contradictory values of individualism and loyalty to a particular group concerned only men. While it is possible for a man to be loyal to some group, he can also simultaneously struggle to fight over power with his brothers.

Women, on the contrary, have no ability to identify themselves with their kin group. Officially, the community perceives females as important elements of their families. Nonetheless, the marriage of a woman features a form of abandonment (Saar, 2001, p.731). This fact simultaneously facilitates the abandonment of their brothers and any other relatives. Accordingly, although the familial group must protect its women, the main goal of the former is to reinforce its honor. Thus, the position of women in such type of society, where their interests hold inferior status, is very unstable and fragile. In addition, this makes them very isolated because women in the Middle East lack solidarity, as mothers do not support their daughters, and sisters do not support each other. Evidently, the author states that if women want to gain a significant role in the society they should develop a strong sense of solidarity among them. Thereafter, males would start respecting them and really want to protect them within their groups.

To conclude, contemporary concepts of feminism are not applicable for any type of society and culture. The analysis of the works of the foreign authors demonstrates that there are many social factors that influence the perception of feminism by both men and women in non-Western and Third World states. It becomes obvious that not only the perception of both genders but also distinct political and economic aspects of everyday life define the way women can fight for their rights and equalities. Modern feminist activists need to revise their ideas in order to make them helpful not only for the women of the Western culture but also for females of other cultures.

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