Feminism and racism are some of the critical aspects that define life in the United States. Being a black single mother born in the Caribbean and brought up in America has been a great challenge. Life has been difficult, especially when it comes to the issue of feminism and racism. The level of discrimination and mistreatment that arise from the color of the skin and the sex are unbearable (Theories Of Race And Ethnicity). Securing a well-paying job, own property and access to quality housing and education are some of the common challenges that the blacks must deal with. Despite numerous efforts to promote equity and affirmative action, there is still some room for improvement. The mistreatment and misfortunes that befalls a single black woman in the United States can be attributed to some of the works of the great philosophers (Digby). On the other hand, some of the comfort and self-consolation I get can also have some qualities of modern philosophy. This chapter will look at how philosophy relates to my life as a black single mother living in America.
As aforementioned, a single black American woman has to undergo severe mistreatment from the rest of the society. These women are prone to abuse and mistreatment from the males in the society. The mistreatment and abuse of women can be attributed to the philosophy of the Descartes, especially Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle brought about the concept of dualism that intended to draw a line between males and females. According to Aristotle, there is a great difference between male and female and hence the significant difference between the two. “Aristotle says that the courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman’s lies in obeying; that ‘matter yearns for form, as the female for the male and the ugly for the beautiful.” (Bailey and Cuomo). From these assertions, it is clear that the males have the upper hand and should feel superior to women. Such a notion explains why I as a woman will be subjective to any man and more so the whites.
Aristotle moves on and asserts that’’ that women have fewer teeth than men; that a female is an incomplete male or ‘as it were, a deformity’: which contributes only matter and not form to the generation of offspring.’’ From these comments, female suffering seems to be justified as the less complete human being gets oppressed by the full human being. It is interesting to point out that from Aristotle’s point of view; women have less capacity as compared to males (Theories Of Race And Ethnicity). This explains why as a black single mother, I live in poverty and it’s difficult to make ends meet. Aristotle’s philosophy explains the inferiority complex in women as they interact with the males (Heikes). In fact, he refers to females as matter while men are referred to as being and form. It is prudent to point out that matter and form are not equal according to Aristotle’s metaphysics. He asserts that form is better than matter and hence males deserve respect from females.
Rene Descartes also has some relationship with the suffering of black women in America. Apart from color discrimination, a black woman can have more discrimination not only because of the color but also due to feminism. Rene Descartes is known to have made a significant contribution in metaphysics and epistemology. Through his metaphysics, he articulated a mind/body dualism that is popularly referred to as ‘Cartesian dualism.’ (Digby). Just like Aristotle, he brought about the concept of a form of substance dualism. This dualism is of two forms of the substance, mental and matter, which ought to interact but exist in different realms. This argument brings the notion that men are more superior to women. He argues that men represent mind while women are seen to represent emotion and body (Bailey and Cuomo). Mind/body dualism has been embraced by male chauvinists to harass and intimidate women in the society. Men are believed to use their mind and improve their lives while women remain emotional and sorry for themselves thus remaining weak and subjective to males.
On the same note, the discrimination based on gender also has some relation to the philosophy of Plato on the concept of Logos and Eros. It is interesting to point out that the idea of Logos means domination, commanding, mastering and directing. All these are attributes that are associated with the males in the society. Man and nature are to be subjected while females were to be subjective and take commands from the males. Women victimization can be attributed to the Eros being absorbed into Logos. The concept explains why women can be subjected to sexual exploitation by men. Identification of Eros with sexuality, one in which woman is reduced to mere ‘body’ explains why a single black woman will always face sexual mistreatment (Theories Of Race And Ethnicity). In essence, the Descartes metaphysics of dualism have put the females on the receiving end thereby endangering the female species. The females have consequently suffered immensely in the hands of the males who feel more superior and important to women.
Although most of the philosophers have had nasty and brutal assertions against women, there are also reasons to be happy than sorry. The emergence of great women philosophers and thinkers could change the tune and provide a scenario where women would feel appreciated in the society. For example, as a black single mother, it is high time that o follow the philosophy of ethics, reason, and existence. It is critical for women to take the positives from the negatives associated with the traditional theory. For instance, Aristotle asserts that women are emotional and have feelings in his dualist metaphysics. I feel that I should take positives from this assertion and make sure that they make themselves happy in the society. According to Kant, women have strong inborn feelings for all that is beautiful and hence no reason to struggle with intellectual matters. “A woman, therefore, will learn no geometry. . . . The fair can leave Descartes to his vortices to whirl forever, without troubling themselves.” From this quote, it is evident that I can take strength from the Descartes and be pride in my beauty as a black American woman (Heikes). As an American woman, I take pride in my beauty and ignore the pressure in intellectual matters.
It is essential to point out that an objective analysis of the Descartes and Aristotle can also be a source of solace to a black American. A modern woman should be able to find valuable resources and insights even from the worst offenders like the Descartes and Aristotle. It is essential to embrace ethical philosophy where ethics and emotional care matters. Women should take pride in their emotions and beauty to promote positive feminism in the society (Digby). Pragmatism and feminism should go hand in hand to ensure that the plight of a woman is taken care of. Epistemic approach and ignorance from a modern woman should be highly condemned and in contrast promote the ethical philosophy that encourages positive feminism. Other philosophers like John Locke, have decided to give an important status to women. He asserts that ‘’women are not property and women should be honored. From the assertion, I feel as a black woman I deserve respect.
Although racism is still rampant in the United States, it is important for the modern woman to strive and ensure that there is less female suffering. Both the white and black woman in the United States is victims of harmful feminism resulting from the negative philosophy of Aristotle and the Descartes. To add salt to injury, the women in the world have become accustomed to these contrary theories and accept the victimization and discrimination simply because of their sexuality (Bailey and Cuomo). This should not be the case, and women should strive to ensure that they take positives from the traditional philosophy. It is high time that women should take pride in the mind/body dualism. The beauty and emotions of a woman are essential to the source of hope to disgruntled women irrespective of their skin color.
Living as a single black lady born in the Caribbean and brought up in America has been a challenging experience. Apart from racism, there is also another discrimination resulting from sexuality. There have been longstanding gender stereotypes that have been used to dominate and subordinate women. Most of these stereotypes can be attributed to the traditional philosophies especially from Aristotle and the Descartes. From these philosophers, women are objects or substance that can be used by men. These philosophers created an inferiority complex to women to the extent that it’s normal for women to be subjective to any male. This has consequently influenced a lot in my life as a black single mother living in America (Theories Of Race And Ethnicity). Nevertheless, a positive approach to these philosophies can be a source of hope to a modern woman. Most of these stereotypes can be eliminated through embracing the ethical philosophy and taking the positives even from the worst offenders to feminism in the likes of Descartes and Aristotle.
Bailey, Alison and Chris J Cuomo. The Feminist Philosophy Reader. 1st ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.
Digby, Tom. Men Doing Feminism. 1st ed. Florence: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Print.
Heikes, Deborah K. Rationality And Feminist Philosophy. 1st ed. London: Continuum, 2010. Print.
Heikes, Deborah K. Virtue Of Feminist Rationality. 1st ed. London: Continuum International Publishing, 2012. Print.
Theories Of Race And Ethnicity. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.
Valls, Andrew. Race And Racism In Modern Philosophy. 1st ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005. Print.
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