Free «Hill Collins' Theory» Essay Sample

Hill Collins' Theory

Hill Collins’s theory centers on the ways that black women have marginalized themselves by working as domestic workers in white households. The difficulties that black women had been experiencing while working in white families is the basis for the Black Feminist Thought (Collins 15). Hill Collins uses the black feminist thought ideology for encapsulating the ideas that stem from black women and in order to illustrate a stance for such women. It also contains the observations and interpretations that are pertinent to Afro-American women, which demystifies various expressions of common themes. The thought exhibits three key themes. These themes are the impossibility of separating black women from their cultural history, the fact that black women have a unique stance as a group and the third theme postulates the universal experience of black women’s standpoint, which may be portrayed differently by different women (Collins 18).

Collins also points out that black women cannot be members of feminist thought or black social thought because the two thoughts pertain to whiteness and maleness respectively. In fact, women who actively engage in the cultural patterns of sociology look forward to acquiring the insider skills of thought as well as having their action conform to the sociological worldview (Collins 29). However, this compels them to adhere to a standpoint that differs from their own. Moreover, it is also likely that their status of being an outsider within will create tensions, because people who become outsiders can be entirely changed by their new status.

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Relating Hill Collins’s Theory to MacKinnon’s Theory

MacKinnon’s feminist theory of the state focuses on the objectification of women as well as the correlations between sex and violence. The theory is based on the ideology that sexuality is a feminist methodology, when treated as a social construct of male power (MacKinnon 227). Dominance is also related to the ideas of masculinity, while the concept of submission, on the other hand, is related to feminism. For this reason, women end up being objects that are to be dominated and controlled. Similarly, pornography, entertainment and advertisement agencies contribute to the objectification of women. This results in abuse, humiliation and degrading of women as a gender.

The similarity between the theories of MacKinnon and Collins is that they both are centered on the marginalization of women in a society. The scholars emphasize on the ways that women are silenced by the society, thus being subjected to inequality. As a result, women find themselves in an inferior position relative to men. The other similarity between the theories is that both theories touch on the dominance of the male gender and blend the subject with the marginalization of women. For instance, Collins’s theory stipulates that white men have become the dominant group in the field of sociology. Therefore, the women’s interpretation of human society is based on the white men’s insider-influenced observations. MacKinnon also mentions that the dominance of men in the sense that men use abstract principles and standards in order to create an advantage for men.

The major difference between the two theories is that MacKinnon focuses on women in general, while Collins’ categorically addresses the black women in particular. Mackinnon’s arguments target all of the women and how they have been subject to the process of objectification. Collins’s theory, on the other hand, lays emphasis on the black women within the confines of black feminist thought. Moreover, even though the two theories revolve around the issue of women marginalization, the basis of marginalization is rather different. In this respect, MacKinnon’s take on marginalization of women stems from the process of objectification and the women’s ability to be submissive.

According to MacKinnon, pornography plays a critical role in the process of systematic oppression of women. Collins’s work is a portrayal of people who exist in the space of power, but are marginalized in a way that impedes them from having access to that power. In contrast, Collins’s theory explains the ways that marginalization of women stems from the cultural and personal experiences in respect to the paradigms of sociology.

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Relating Hill Collins’s Theory to Beauvoir’s Theory

In the book, The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir lays emphasis on the oppression of women and why they are considered the second sex (Beauvoir 404). She rejects the biological and psychoanalytical explanations for the reasons that women are oppressed. Beauvoir builds up her argument based on the fact that women are oppressed due to them being confined to certain roles that significantly limit their freedom (Beauvoir 414). In fact, she categorically mentions that a person is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman. Beauvoir’s theory has similarities with that of Collins’s since they both address the subject of gender inequality. In this regard, Collins’s theory lays emphasis on the subordination of women and the men as the dominant group in sociology. Beauvoir also touches on the men superiority, which plays a significant role in subordination of women. Moreover, men use their superiority to consider themselves as essential beings, while women are thought to be unessential beings or objects.

The disparity between the two theories is that they utilize different analogies in order to explain why women are marginalized. According to Beauvoir, women rely on men for shelter, opinions and sustenance, thus making women dependent on men. Therefore, according to Beauvoir, the marginalization of women stems from the fact that women are always reluctant to digress from the societal norms and venture into the wilderness of liberty (Beauvoir 418). As for Collins’s approach, black women act in accordance with their place in the white men-dominated worldview. Therefore, black women accept their subordinate position and deal with the fact that they were not born men or white.

Relating the feminists to the Marxist Emilie Durkheim

Durkheim’s theory focuses on the benefits of divisions of labor and how this phenomenon is beneficial for a society (Durkheim 118). His theory stipulates that division of labor creates a feeling of solidarity between people and thus establishes a social and moral order within a society. The feminists’ theories enable one to reconsider and revitalize Durkheim’s theory because the process of women’s stems from the lack of division of labor. In fact, the proponents of the feminist theories focus on the dominance of men and how women are inferior and submissive beings. For this reason, if both men and women engage in similar and equal tasks through the division of labor, then the marginalization of women will subside (Durkheim 123).

According to Durkheim, individuals bind together around a shared culture as ‘solidarity’. A society with a high degree of division of labor exhibits organic solidarity, whereas societies with a lower degree of division of labor exhibit mechanical solidarity. Organic solidarity has a weakening effect on the collective conscience (Durkheim 200). For instance, in Collins’s theory, black women have marginalized themselves from the white society because they were primarily performing domestic duties and nurture children in white households. This is the basics of organic solidarity as postulated by Durkheim. If black women engaged in tasks that would be similar to those of white households, it would build a connection with other people. However, modernization and contemporary ways of life causes a higher degree of division of labor, which does not foster solidarity (Durkheim 118).

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Michel Foucault

Foucault’s theory revolves around the concepts of discipline and punishment, where he touches on the idea of power as a central point for his line of thought (Foucault 13). Power can be traced in all human relationships and penetrates through all aspects of a society. In this respect, patterns of domination within a society are based on distribution of power. Feminist theories enable one to take up Foucault’s theory, because the marginalization of women stems from the fact that one part of a society has power over the other one (Foucault 67). In turn, such a situation leads to dominance of the superior gender and submission of the weaker gender. Similarly, MacKinnon has a comparable theory of power, but he utilizes it in order to explain the ways that men have power over everything in the society. As a result, men use their power for shaping and defining social beings, thus keeping women subordinate to men. Moreover, Collins’s and Beauvoir’s theories also substantiate how the oppression of women stems from the powerful position of other parties.

Max Weber

Weber’s theory lays emphasis on Protestantism as an explanatory factor for understanding the spirit of capitalism. The theory also touches on how the religious ideas of various groups, such as Calvinists, created the capitalistic spirit (Weber 87). Max Weber also began the study of bureaucracy, which is a system of organization in which leaders exercise control over their subordinates. However, this system is premised on discipline. Feministic approach makes one rethink Weber’s theories because the essence of a democracy is to enhance cohesiveness of a society and assist workers to become experts in their job. It also encourages fairness and discourages abuse of power.

In this respect, feminist theories digress from the bureaucratic model, thus leading to abuse of power and causing the dominance of men, where men feel superior to women. Subsequently, women are marginalized, thus creating a lack of cohesiveness in a society. If both men and women conform to the standardized procedures and a clear chain of command, there would be fairness within a society (Weber 92). It would also deprive men of their dominant position within a society, thus negating the oppression of women.

Frantz Fanon

The Wretched of the Earth by Fanon had a significant impact on civil rights and black consciousness movements around the world (Fanon 110). Fanon argues that colonialists used force to exploit raw materials and labor. His sentiments can be analyzed in light of the black feminist thought where black women have come to accept self-devaluing assumptions and making creative use of their marginality. Therefore, Fanon’s theory has become a very important part of the feminist theories (Fanon 203). This can be attributed to the oppression and marginalization of black people, which he succinctly explains in Black Skin, White Masks.

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Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels point out that various groups of people in a society always clash with each other in the pursuit of their class interests (Marx, Engels and Tucker 45). They also touched on capitalism and how bourgeoisie exploit the proletariats by using power as capitalists. According to Marx, proletariats will eventually tire and overthrow the class of capitalist bourgeoisie (Marx, Engels and Tucker 98). According to feminist theories, men feel superior by acting similar to the bourgeoisie, while women are akin to the proletariats. The analogy gives credibility to the feminist theories, because men can use their position of power for objectifying women, devaluing them and marginalizing them. However, if women say no to suppression and marginalization, the end result will be s communist society and a classless state.

Antonio Gramsci

Gramsci laid emphasis on the concept of cultural hegemony and how socially powerful people use their influence for convincing the less powerful people in a society (Gramsci 56). According to Gramsci, those who hold power influence the influence the behaviors and expectations of the rest of the society. Moreover, his perception of power as hegemony also influences the debate on civil society (Gramsci 80). The feminists theories enables one to rethink Gramsci’s theory because it follows that women are less likely to hold power and influence thus being subject to influence from other members of the society especially the men. Similarly, the Afro-American black women have been subject to oppression by members of the white families because they hold some power and influence over them. This also explains why Beauvoir mentions that women are oppressed due to their being thus confining them to certain roles that curtail their freedom.

Vladimir Lenin

Lenin’s argument is centered on the role of the state and why the working class must overthrow the class of bourgeoisie and subsequently the state (Lenin 345). He further argues that dictatorship is a transitional state that stems from people’s struggle to change the society and prevent its overthrow. The working class rule through their monopoly on power and resort to violence to fight against the ruling classes in an imperialist war. In this regard, the state is a product of irreconcilable antagonism of classes. In light of the feminist theories, the antagonism of gender inequality is a journey to proto-political authority (Lenin 365). However, if both genders embraced communism, it gives a complete democracy even though it will eventually wither itself away. Similarly, even though feminist’s theory revolves around suppression of women, some level of suppression is necessary during the transition from capitalism to communism. In the higher phases of communist society, the enslaving subordination disappears, thus fostering fairness in a society.