Posted by: nataliap | October 30, 2007

Global Feminism

It seems to me that one of the largest struggles of feminism today is creating this sense of ‘global feminism’. Although it seems as though all women should have common interests and goals (which is true to some extent), it is also evident that cultural location and ideologies greatly shape women’s individual perspectives on what exactly ‘women’s rights’ are or should be. The Western, or Northern, definition and approach to feminism is not universal and cannot be easily applied to a diverse range of global cultures. We have seen evidence of this in writings from women such as Marie-Aimee Helie-Lucas, Malika Dutt, and Amrita Basu. Equality may mean a variety of things for women living in societies in the Middle East, SE Asia, South America, or Africa; conversely, what is conceptualized as equality in the United States or Western Europe may not be relevant to these women. Issues such as access to clean drinking water, access to adequate housing, and issues of colonialism and globalization are more the focus of Southern feminisms, and are issues that western feminists have been slow to adopt. How do we create a feminism that is universal, and is this even possible?



  1. I’m glad that you brought this up. The concept of global feminism had always been a fascinating subject for me. Cultures all over the world are so very different for one another, are we justified to assume that all women are wanting the same thing? And when we take cultures into account, do we include those so-called uncivilized tribes in Africa and South America, where the concept of feminism is as foreign as a white woman like myself? The whole subject of feminism is so frustrating to me becasue there literally are not two people in the world with the same views of what feminism really is. So how can we expcet to know what women on the other side of the planet think and feel and want? I have read in several of the articles for this class that many women from non-white backgrouds have credited the Western cultures and white man for many of the problems they have within their community currently. So, are the problems these women have with oppression something that has always been part of their culture, or is it something we have created? Often the Western cultures decide that a country or culture has a problem that they simply don’t see an as issue at all. The current Iraq war, for example. I guess my point is, I don’t know that any one person or group of people are qualified to decide what all women want, and therefore defining feminism globally is nearly impossible.

  2. I too feel that globally every woman feels, experiences, and sees life in all different ways. I think that feminism can be globally and it is, but for every women it means something different. Not one person can share or have the same feelings and thoughts, yes they can have similarities in these, but not the same due to the cold hard fact that everyone is different, and if we were all the same would that be much better? Would it make oppression go away? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows. Globally women can and do come together to talk and share their oppression and that is good because then through other eyes we can see and understand the world as a whole in a better way and our view of things can be stretch further into the herizion. Through others eyes(experiences) it can help to over come our own oppression. But I strongly feel that global feminism is not the same for every woman.

  3. I too wonder if a global feminism is ever really possible. There are so many different ways of looking at different aspects and creating different theories. Look at the book we’re reading! I did find some hope when I read Correa and Petchesky’s article “Reproductive and Sexual Rights, A Feminist Perspective.” Their four ethical principles for reproductive and sexual rights were bodily intergrity, personhood, equality and diversity. Their discriptions of equality and diversity principles really seem key to global feminism working. Equality among woman and recognizing diversity among women and respecting that. One of the biggest problems within feminist theory is this fear of “difference”, theorist either ignore it or use it as grounds for separtion, ie Charlotte Bunch. Embracing and understanding is one of the key things, bell hooks had an excellent theory too. Defining a theory under which all feminist can stand globally may be really hard even impossible. I still think that while ever culture of women has different definition of their women’s oppression, doesn’t mean all women can’t seek to understand and support each other struggles.

  4. I agree- the four principles presented by Correa and Petchesky really are providing a framework, maybe from which feminism can be analysed and dealt with in a more universal way without creating blanket expectations and laws across countries or rather a globe with more variance than we can even imagine. It is impossible to imagine that we could make laws or policies that would be accepted or at least considered in regard to specific issues of womens health or freedoms, but by creating a system (and i am not certain that C and P’s pillars are it) but by creating some base that incorporates and recognizes the diversity of beliefs, values, everything, we can at least hope that a voice is being given to the oppressed in a way that they can access and appreciate it, adapt it to their own situations and lives.

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