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Where is the Third World?

May 29, 2009

The Third World is presented to me as somewhere out there. Out there, I am presented with bodies, always brown, sometimes naked, usually with some clear physical ailment, but always eking out a smile due to the presence of the beneficial white First World, either in the frame or directing the gaze of the camera.

Working from this perspective, it is impossible to have a feminist dialogue with the Third World. It always remains the Subject acting on the Object too impoverished to act on itself.

The work I must do first is to find my inner Third World. In this process, I find that parts of myself that have been repressed in my culture are displayed strongly in the Third World, and a dialogue provides me with solutions I am unable to grasp utilizing only my First World cultural resource.

Feminism is closely involved with questions of power relations, be they between male- and female- gendered people, different cultural, race, and sexual orientation backgrounds of feminists, or those in our relationships.

There is no richer resource in the twentieth century of resistance to a dominant power then that of the Third World struggling against colonial powers, be they the remanants of the imperial era or the heat of the Cold War that was felt throughout the Third World.

As I make this move towards desperately needing the Third World to help understand and respond to the domination in my own life, I simultaneously lose my concept of detached superiority, and a genuine dialogue is possible.

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