Sunday, May 2, 2010

The "Other" Problem

The word “other” has come up in many of the essays we have read this semester. I first began to have an issue with the use of this word in my German 242 class, the Holocaust in text, image, and memory. Here the word “other was used to describe the Jewish people. The Jews were seen as everything the “norm” was not or did not want to be. For example, if the norm was to be sharing, the Jewish person was portrayed as selfish. Since hearing this, the word other used to describe people who are not what is deemed the norm has a very negative connotation to me. In the male dominated world, men are the strong, rational, hardworking men who provide for himself or his family. Women on the other hand, are weak, emotionally unstable, and should stay at home and take care of the husband and children, basically the things men see as being below themselves. I believe this is what the feminist movement as well as any movement that attempts to overcome oppression is trying to do, they are trying to eliminate the concept of “other.” The goal is to acknowledge that people are different, but try to unite on some common ground. However, I do not believe that the feminist movement will ever be truly successful until it corrects the “other” problem within the female order. Most feminist do not think in terms of the poor or of women of different ethnicities. This is where conflict within the oppressed group starts.

The feminist movement will forever be in a push/pull dynamic as long as there is an ongoing push/pull within the group. “Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between and individual and her oppression…community does not mean a shedding of differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” (Lorde 50) Ignoring the problem never makes it go away. For middle class, upper class, and rich white women to pretending that everything is on equal playing ground and that all women are fighting against the same inequalities is a stone waiting to drop in a glass house. It’s the same thinking the male oppressors have when trying to deny that there is anything wrong with the way things are as of now. “The failure of academic feminist 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.” (Lorde 50) I believe recognizing the differences between women and finding strength where the oppressor finds weakness is the way to begin to eliminate the “other” problem.

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