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Patricia Hill Collins' Views On Feminism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2005 words Published: 12th May 2017

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As a standpoint feminist, Patricia Hill Collins continuously argues that feminist studies should be practiced from the standpoint of women or particular groups of women who are not as egocentric to think they understand certain aspects of the world. Because of the differences that women have, many standpoint feminist now recognize this division of women and how it is impossible to claim one universal experience for women. Sexism occurs so miraculously that it is important to view it in relation to other systems of domination and analyze how it interacts with other classes in Collins “matrix of domination”. Collins does this through the thought of black feminist point of view.

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Collins is embedded in this idea that despite long standing claims by aristocrats; women, African Americans, Latinos, and other downgraded groups in America remain incapable of producing the type of analytical thought that is labeled as a feminist theory. People with powerful knowledge of resistance trampled former social structures of social and cultural inequality abandon this view. Members of these downgraded groups do in fact theorize and our critical social theory has been central to political empowerment and the search for justice. This led to Collins publishing Black Feminist Thought. Collins is above all concerned with the relationship among empowerment, knowledge, and self-definition with a primary focus on black women. It is the oppression with which she is most personally familiar. But Collins is also one of the few Standpoint and Social thinkers who are able to rise above their own experience. She challenges us with a significant view of oppression and other views that not only has the possibility of changing the world but also of opening up the likelihood of continuous change. To her, for change to be continuous, it can’t be exclusively focused on one social group. In other words, to be continuous, a social movement that is only concerned with racial inequality will end its influence once equality for that group is achieved. Collins gives us a way of transcending specific politics that is based upon Black Feminist Epistemology. Her intent is to place black women’s experiences in the center of analysis without privileging those experiences. Basically we can learn from black women’s knowledge.

There are so many major trends that influence her to do so much of her work. She has sociological significance in a few different areas of which the content of her ideas has been influenced by on-going dialogue in many sociological societies. This has showed that in some way women are gaining more of a voice. For instance in her popular book From Black Power to Hip-Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism, this examines the debated spaces of racism, feminism, nationalism, and popular culture in an attempt to expand the struggle for a truly democratic society for the whole universe. She highlights specific themes to truly hint the struggle of place in society. The book is divided into 3 parts: Race, Family, and the US; Ethnicity, Culture, and Black Nationalist politics; and Feminism, Nationalism, and African American women. She is careful with words, she reclaims the term Black women for its globalizing potential to include more than America women of African descent. She redefines the group, she states, “…a unifying language that women of African descent and women who are rendered socially Black [in and outside the US] can use to describe their needs as racial and ethnic women” (Collins 23). With this said early on in the book, one anticipates a broader view to reframe black feminist thought in the global eye. Not necessarily to analyze everything but to at least rethink the effects of transnational migration on urban environments in America. Collins highlights these shifts in black identity, in ways of how we discuss black experience, race relations, and how contemporary feminist redefine themselves as “women of color”. In spite of that, Collins sticks closely to the familiar ground of African American urban communities and their related feminist theories and practices. She is concerned with the development of contemporary black feminist thought into social movement and its expansion into multiracial collective identity politics. Hip Hop is the dominant cultural expression in many black women’s lives, but it is just one part in the complex of her “matrix of domination”. Because of our influence of Hip-Hop and other trends of society she tries to influence us to put into practice the collective identity of politics. She tries to influence into creating a group base identity while avoiding group based essentialism. She wants us to detach ourselves from this intricate and worldwide place of domination without falling into more temptation.

It doesn’t seem like she has many forerunners that truly influence her to do all of what she has done. She is more influenced by herself. She gives her opinion of what she thinks females (mostly black females) need to achieve and prove, and how others should understand and learn. As mention before she operates on the “Matrix of Domination”. This is a sociological theory that explains issues of oppression that deal with race, gender, and class. Even though these issues are classified differently they all are connected in a way. Other forms such as age, sex, gender, and religion apply to this too. Collins introduces this in her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and Politics of Empowerment. Many feminist have contributed a great deal of research to help her in an advantage. Although, it seems Collins has had a little bit of help from Alice Walker and her view of black women and feminism, in which she changes to “Womanism”.

Walker’s construction of “Womanism” was an attempt to establish the true black woman in history and culture and to change the negative and inaccurate stereotypes that are given to black women. Walker lists the “black woman” as a thinking subject who is always seeking knowledge. She interrogates the epistemological exclusions she endures in intellectual life and general and feminist intelligence. Walker also highlights the black woman’s strength, capability, and independence. Opposed to feminism, “Womanism” presents an alternative for black women by framing their survival through men and women. In Black Feminist Thought, Collins states, “Many black women view feminism as a movement that at best is exclusively for women, and, at worst, dedicated to attacking or eliminating men… Womanism seemingly supplies a way for black women to address gender-oppression without attacking black men” (Collins 11). Collins seems agreeable in this case of “Womanism” and seems to be that Alice Walker is a versatile influence upon her. Collins goes into a lot of depth about “Womanism” in her book, a great impact on the “Matrix of Domination”.

Patricia Hill Collins outlined America Black Feminism through the expression in music, fiction, poetry, and oral history. She continuously saw and pointed out three themes. The oppressions are interconnected greatly through the different points. Black women create alternative world views for self-definition and self determination. Black women also have often incorporated imposed and restraining definitions of who they are. They especially do this by revitalizing concepts of beauty, skin color, and physical body notions. Collins also points to areas that have been overlooked many times. Gender roles within family and work, politics, violence, and homophobia all need to be revitalized also.

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Collins draws on black women’s experiences and voices to explain concepts that have been obscured institutionally and ideologically. Her interdisciplinary methodology engages an analytical approach to domination and subordination. She rejects defensive thought because “either/or” thinking categorizes people, things, and ideas in terms of their differences from each other. She stresses the “both/and” analysis because it could transform the way in which we think about the claims in knowledge. Her work has made Afro-centric and feminist thought more liable, broader in view, and more essential. She forces her readers to think differently and to reexamine the way in which truth and knowledge are thought to be, produced, and approved. This helps us to realize the importance of our gender society. This is some knowledge of why she seems to be an important figure in the evolution of gender studies. She gives her opinion with valuable information to back it up.

Collins largely devotes a significant amount of work to present intellectual ideas mixed with everyday life ideas in an accessible way. This gives more of an encouragement for black females and other races to say what they feel, to give their opinion straightforward as can be. Her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment seems to be one of the most contributing books that she has published for the general public, but with a focus for black women. She reanalyzes race, gender, and class as an interlocking system of oppression. She talks about the lack of women’s experiences as “blood-mothers” and “other-mothers”. The community reveals that there is a norm of a heterosexual, married couple, with a husband earning the money. This is far from being natural, universal, and preferred but instead is deeply embedded in specific race and class formations. Placing African American women in the center of analysis not only reveals much needed information about black women’s experiences but also questions what perspective we give them. Black women’s actions in group survival suggest a vision of community that stands in opposition to that extent in the dominant culture. This community is seen as arbitrary and fragile, structured accordingly by competition and domination. Afro-centric models of community stress connections, caring, and personal accountability. As cultural workers African American women have rejected the generalized ideology of domination in order to safeguard the conceptualizations of the community. According to Collins, black women have been unable to spend time theorizing about alternative conceptualizations of community. Instead, through daily actions black women have strongly created alternative communities that truly empower themselves. Experiences as mothers, “other-mothers”, educators, labor women, and community leaders seem to suggest that power as energy can be encouraged by resistance. In Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice, Collins states, “The spheres of influence created and sustained by African American women are not mean to solely to provide a respite from oppressive situations or a retreat from their effects. Rather, these black female spheres of influence constitute potential sanctuaries where individual black women and men are nurtured in order to confront oppressive social institutions (Collins 56).

Collins explores an astonishing range of ideas and images through history, sociology, and popular culture. Rather than debate the dominance of race versus sex in the history of social injustice to black women and other races; Collins offers a theory of “Intersectionality”, viewing race, gender, and sexuality together. She explores the social and personal implications of historical images and more current concerns about the influence of urban culture and how it’s glorified. Demonstrating how the politics of race has traditionally neglected concerns about gender and sexual orientation, Collins explores a range of issues, advocating certain aspects of cultural situations.


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