17 Nov

Although I tend to agree that at the most it’s basic points standpoint theory can be very useful, I also believe that this theory has its own flaws. By defining standpoint theory to be best utilized by a feminist viewpoint subjugates all women to be of the same social, political, cultural and economic hierarchy. This in and of itself is contradicting to standpoint theory’s basic definition of using the viewpoints of the oppressed and marginalized. By grouping ALL women into one population or group we discount the differences amongst women of all social, political, cultural and economic backgrounds. In doing so we take power away from the most marginalized groups within that population (women of color, lesbians, the poor). Would the standpoint about social reform be the same between a Caucasian woman who is the CEO of a Chicago marketing firm and a Mexican-American hotel maid? I think not. It can be troublesome to assume that one large group (as in half the world’s population) shares the same views because compared to men they are oppressed. We must delve deeper into the social hierarchies to identify those individuals and smaller populations/groups that are truly oppressed.


However, I’m not completely sold that the views of the oppressed are “less false” than the views of anyone else. Through communication we create the realities that surround us. We all construct different realities based upon our past experiences, culture, and personal attitudes/feelings towards whatever is being communicated. Just because I am a white female of the lower-middle class does not discount my experiences as being of the poor working class. There are many individuals in American especially who have captured the American Dream and have obtained upward mobility within their class, social, and economical structures. Those individuals still hold onto their past experiences and use them to form the realities they share today. By stating that the views of the middle class or upper class are less false than those of the lower classes ignores the fact that many of the middle and upper class population were once or are still directly connected to the oppressed. This can cause a false understanding between the social structures.


Now that I’ve said that I do believe that those of the truly oppressed populations do have a perspective of a very harsh reality that is often discounted by those of the ruling classes. It is easy to dismiss the poor as being lazy and stupid when the rules and structures you have put forth limit education, healthcare and civil rights to those who are not of power. Why would anyone, especially those with the power to make changes, want to blame themselves?


All in all I think what is most important about standpoint theory is really just a lesson to keep in mind: Do not discount the viewpoints of the individuals you are studying. Keep an open mind and seek out those individuals who are most at stake, impoverished, and oppressed to be able to get a clearer view of how the system works. By going to the source, to those directly affected will we be able to obtain true information that is not filtered by power and greed.


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