There is no doubt that the evolution of feminist theories, frameworks and ideologies have been instrumental in reassessing, redefining and reconstructing the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women. Feminism’s rise and continuous growth in varying areas and communities paved the way for different movements which are readily geared toward emphasizing gender equality; asserting women’s rights and eventually abolishing the patriarchal hegemony. Indeed, the descendants of Eve are no longer confined into the oppressive realms of domestication and gender-based roles and stereotypes.
However, it cannot be denied that while feminism seems to encompass the experiences and reality scope of each and every woman, it cannot be denied that the constraints presented by cultural and geographical differentiation seem to hinder feminism from achieving a strong, cohesive and united stand. Basically, this particular problem has been the focus of the multicultural-feminist approach. From the term “multicultural,” it can be then argued that multicultural feminism gives feminism a new approach in terms of bridging the social and cultural gaps that prevent women from having consensus (Streitmatter, 1999).
Under this context, feminism is not merely focused on identifying women’s problems in general. It is also concerned on understanding the underlying the social and cultural situations wherein these problems emanate. To a certain extent, it is more specific, since issues of race and ethnicity are given much importance so as to further avoid discrimination and enable a dynamic participation among marginalized groups or sectors (Code, 2000). This is why collective representation proved to be important under this context.
But then again, while it is true that collective representation seems to be an efficient tool for spreading feminism, this action also presents some of the major problems confronted by the multicultural approach. Take for example the case of Chicana Feminism (Rotger, 2003). Its existence cannot be merely attributed to have a feminist movement in Latin America. From a critical perspective, it can be argued that the rise of Chicana Feminism is a reaction to the failure of multicultural feminism to express or articulate the needs of Latin American women.
The aim to bridge social and cultural gaps did not materialize and even cause further divisions and fragmentations. Once and for all, if one has to employ a multicultural approach, this requires a thorough and substantial understanding of the community or group’s experiences. The rampant utilization of western paradigms and frameworks may help, but this does not necessarily mean that it will eventually reflect the Latin American experience. Discussions that are drawn from an outsider’s point of view are very limiting as compared to those who have direct involvement with the matter.
Clearly, this situation tends to further aggravate divisions and fragmentations. From another angle, despite of the fact that Chicana Feminism is worthy of recognition because of its strong efforts to put focus on women’s issues in Latin America, this is nonetheless prone to suffering “identity politics (Kramarae & Splender, 2000). Kramarae and Splender (2000) explained that identity politics occur when group or collective members tend to disregard individuality when it comes to the pursuance of goals and objectives.
The two further added that this can result to internal conflicts wherein the legitimization of principles and ideologies becomes fully hierarchical. Although collective members may share similar sentiments regarding a particular issue, this does not necessarily mean that they will converge when it comes to the approaches and solutions to be employed. From an individualistic level, this can also vary. This therefore tends to weaken the collective. The arguments they present transform into a salvo of rhetorical debates. Collective representation is indeed a challenge to multicultural feminism.
Efforts should be continuously exerted so as to lessen the instances of marginalization and further subdivisions. A broad-minded perspective should be readily employed so as to reduce the chances of identity politics to be able to formulate appropriate and effective solutions.
References Code, L. (2000). Encylopedia of Feminist Theories. New York: Routledge Kramarae, C. and Splender, D. (2000). Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women. New York: Routledge Rotger, M. (2003). Battlegrounds and Crossroads. Netherlands: Rodopi Streitmatter, J. (1999). For Girls Only. New York: State University of New York Press
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