So Thursday we got around to discussing Audre Lourde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” It begs some interesting questions, especially in terms of how to effectively do feminist scholarship. Lourde makes the point that, “It is particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians.” Unfortunately I’ve noticed that in the fight for any kind of equal rights, a given group will unite under one cause that doesn’t say much about the diversity of the unit as a collection of individuals. For the Civil Rights Movement it was, of course, racial equality. For the feminist movement it was gender rights but each of these groups always seem to have left of a marginal group, who would still remain oppressed while sacrificing their needs to the good of the movement. Real revolution, as Lourde states, comes when women can recognize one another’s differences and use their nurturing power to genuinely come together for complete change. It begs the question whether, to some degree, the strides of feminist theory have been busy work. Has it been like making a long list of things to do and marking some things off but leaving the larger issues for later. It makes one feel accomplished but you still have a lot to do.
An important facet of oppression in that it doesn’t affect one area of life it is intersectional. However intersectionality recognizes that, although all black people may be affected by the race issue, women have a different narrative than men and homosexuals from heterosexuals. I agree with Lourde when she says that, “It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.” Structures don’t change very much once they’re in place, but people change and they become more knowledgeable. Autonomy is something that has become an important part of American being ( I’ll limit it to American, until I’ve had the opportunity to further observe our international brethren and sistren), and thus folks are always trying to separate themselves. Even in organizations we all want our own niche, if you will, but it does such a great job of keeping us apart that it masks deeper issues that would come out if we interacted. There’s a lot of inter-verbs in life guys: interact, international, interdependent, intersectional, interfaith. This, I feel, is the structure of the master’s house. Divide and conquer which Lourde talks about in terms of feminist theory, “The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”
Well there you have it folks. I think this statement has such broader implications to other issues but the point is we have to get around the campfire and get to know one another so that we can tear down the master’s house with our tools. Peace, Love and Unity. Viva la revolución!