Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Empowerment: Racist Rhetoric

I have already talked about the Western obsession with “empowering” women in other parts of the world (see here and here). Today I ran across this article detailing yet another statement to this effect: “this White House paper sums up by saying that 'across all [these] objectives, we will: deepen our engagement with Africa's young leaders; seek to empower marginalized populations and women...'”

I don’t really have anything new to say. I just felt my point was worth emphasizing. The discourse about empowering women and “marginalized populations” in other countries is a means of: 1) Asserting Western moral and cultural superiority (a sneaky form of racism); 2) Reinforcing the narrative of Progress; 3) Obfuscating domestic inequalities; and 4) Providing justification for various sorts of intervention (neocolonialism).

Most tellingly, this rhetoric is premissed on the assumption that it is Western powers that must do the empowering, while women and subalterns are passive recipients of empowerment, unable to act on their own accord.

It feels so good to be the Savior.

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