Posted by: clunythescourge | November 6, 2007

Triple oppressions

In Elizabeth Martinez’s essay “La Chicana”, she brings our theoretical debate into the specific context of the Chicana who suffers from what she calls “triple oppression”, or the intersection of racism, imperialism, and sexism (McCann and Kim 41). As with hooks, Martinez discusses the centrality of race and the history of race relations and militaristic conquest both within and outside of the physical boundaries of the U.S. and expands to its geopolitical context, illustrating how the actions of the U.S. and other colonizing nations have affected other parts of the world. Martinez states that the nature of women’s oppression has begun with the history of Europeans as colonizers upon both the native Indian women of the Americas and Latin-American women using the Catholic Church, the feudal social system, and enforced through “the act of rape: the rape of women, the rape of an entire continent and its people” (McCann and Kim 41). Also, the process of globalization and the structures of inequality it has both produced and reproduced have greatly impacted the Chicana in very negative ways, in term of struggling third world economies, exported western lifestyle and values, the recent dynamics of feminized migration and its effect upon families, and the invisibility of their labor, pain and suffering due to racism, sexism, and imperialistic elitism.

Therefore, Martinez believes that the goals of feminism should be to recognize the diversity of feminist perspectives based on both global positionality and generational differences. She believes that “we will not win our liberation struggle unless we move together with men rather than against them” (McCann and Kim 43). In order to support the Chicana in revolutionary nationalism, those of us who are white women of middle-class background in particular, need to realize that family is for many a source of unity and a major defense against the oppressor, therefore possibly reconsidering our ultimate rejection of the hetero-normative nuclear family. As feminists, we must acknowledge the importance of the role that racism as well as sexism has played, and understand that for the Chicana and other women of color who are advocating feminism, “the three types of oppression cannot be separated… they are all part of the same system, they are three faces of the same enemy” (McCann and Kim 43). Thus, Martinez calls upon us all, as Chicanas, as women of color, as white women, and feminist men to understand the link between historical conquest and contemporary attitudes and beliefs that continue to marginalize the values and goals of feminist women of color, and with courage and strength “struggle as a united force with our men and our allies” (McCann and Kim 44).

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