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Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age

by Ella Shohat

Buy the book: Ella Shohat. Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age

Release Date: 19 February, 2001

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Ella Shohat. Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age


Feminist foreign policy for the new century

Technically this work (like many other women's studies collections) is sociologically based, but attempts to be interdisciplinary for appearances sake. After using this book for a previous semester, I also venture public policy is an entirely accurate additional field for this work.

No, this work does not have the seemingly requisite tables and charts in so many more conventional public service books (of all subcategories) and the artwork interspersed throughout may throw people off who have arrived in search of intentionally more traditional academic graphic aids, but they enhance the book's overall presentation of very important (and difficult) issues.

Since it's inception, feminism has attempted to speak for women in general, but has instead too often inadvertently degenerated into self-promotion of relatively privileged white middle-class, heterosexual and non-disabled women who at least have one identification to attempt fallback onto when confronted with the painful reality of discrimination.

The majority of the world's women however do not have such protections, hence magnifying their struggles in unimaginable ways.

Unlike this Bridge Called my Back (1981) and other 'second wave' classics which inadvertently focused on American based women, this anthology also takes the further step of examining such communities outside of the United States and Western Europe.

Evidenced by the 1995 Fifth International UN women's conference in Beijing, real and permanent women's liberation only occurs when intended programs and laws are culturally sensitive and appropriate models as opposed to the 'one-size must fit all' models previously (and some would argue currently proposed) by other western feminists.

Specifically, Isabelle R. Gunning (pp. 203-224) argues Female Genital Mutilation is not simply a pattern of male-on-female violence designed to torture women for the fun of it, but often a procedure that other women and girls (despite the inevitable risks and complications) encourage each other to undergo for fear of isolation and stigmatization. Consequently, the best alternatives to eradicating these same procedures would both explain the health risks experienced by women are directly connected to FGM and search for alternative ceremonies that could be performed instead as a way of symbolizing those same women's transition into adulthood and imparting values of respect and monogamy (this time, explicitly for both genders).

Also intriguing (given the U.S.'s recent history of involvement in the region) is Mervat F. Hatem's (pp. 369-390) Middle Eastern feminism essay. Theoretically, both the increased racial consciousness of journalists (many of whom cut their proverbial teeth in the tumultuous sixties covering the emergent civil rights movement) and a general (if grudging recognition) of sexism prevents the occurrences, but 'liberal' westerners continue to freely engage in the binary portrayal of the Middle East as a totally backwards land for women, also conveniently overlooking the current U.S. Government's (when opposition was then spearheaded in 1998 by socially conservative Congressional Republicans) well-publicized internal hostility toward's women's expanded public sphere role via curtailment of reproductive and other previously won civil rights.

It's easy to point fingers at and condemn other nations for their actions when entire societies are conveniently unwilling to retrack and confess to their own deeply ingrained biases. Clashing deeply with still-publicly voiced ideals of 'democracy' and 'fairness' policy reality is difficult for America to collectively undergo itself.

Having read other 'multicultural feminist' anthologies prior to this course, I naively (and very incorrectly assumed the format would be effective, but totally interchangeable with what I already knew.

Because this was clearly not the case, I heartily encourage anybody interested in feminist public policymaking to get and HEAVILY read through this volume. WHATEVER the price you must pay to obtain a permanent copy will be well worth it!

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