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 Thinking about the "Other" 
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Location: Appalachian State University
I could argue that the way Beauvoir develops the concept of the Other assumes the existence of a world in which there is plenty of conflict - over resources, social dominance, or, in fact, any sort of hierarchical relationship.

So the flip side would be that the concept of the Other loses its usefulness when their isn't conflict over resources, as in a healthy family group, or in a more just and democratic world.

What do you think? :?

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Gayle Turner


Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:02 pm
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Maybe it will work this time.

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hildreth


Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:38 pm
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Yippee, I got onto the site. and Maybe it will send now since a "test message" just went through. Sorry ladies, I have a low tolerance for electronic malfunction! Anyway.....

The designation of "Other" seems to be all about marginalizing and minimizing the humanity and value of a group different from the one or group making the designation of Other. The power group finds (or creates) any attribute that can be emphasized or used to gain control of the group deemed Other. The British and Belgian colonialist governments in Africa successfully used relative darkness and lightness of Africans to create a color-based feeling of Other between different tribal groups. This is not to say that the tribal groups had all been friends until this occurred, they were not, but they were all acceptable tribes (warring amongst themselves over land and other issues) and no superiority existed based on skin tones.

Other is not a natural designation. It is artificially created to gain and maintain power by those who are insecure of their own self, value, or place in the scheme of things.

Before industrialization took firm hold, there was a place of economic value for woman within the family and community when there was an agricultural and trades based society. Certainly, woman was not considered equal to man in the so-called Christian ethic or within Judaism, but she was counted as a meaningful part of the community and contributed to the economic base by virtue of the work she performed for the common good. Don’t you think? After industrialization much of the work women did was done by machines and she became extraneous and even more exploitable. And what’s up with the postwar (WWII) return the woman to the kitchen with an apron in suburbia and get her out of the work place “Leave it to Beaverâ€

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hildreth


Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:40 pm
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Megan,
I appreciate your thoughts relative to the indigenous people of North America. You are right that the tribal structures were often very democratic in spirit and form. In fact, I believe it was among the Iroquois that women had the final say in the council. Intertribal warfare did, however involve rape and a certain degree of pillage with the taking of slaves, etc., and of course, death.

There is a book you might be interested in reading. The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area. Malcolm Margolin, 1978. Margolin constructs a pretty good picture of the social structure of the Ohlone Peoples. It was interesting to me as well to learn about their social structure, which included many democratic practices. They did not seem to have many of the hang-ups we so-called modern and enlightened people experience. For example, they did not have a problem with homosexuality. Homosexuality was viewed as an accepted part of life and homosexuals were given consideration rather than being viewed as social deviants. Homosexuality among women was also accepted, although only as a sexual practice; women could not assume male roles such as hunting or take part in male purification rituals – women had their own powerful rituals.

For a certainty, Western (un)Civilization and Christendom have not been kind to women or children. Children today still have absolutely no rights or freedom based on law. The current versions of theology and religion in the world today do give one pause. I read an interesting perspective on religion recently that said “good theologyâ€

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hildreth


Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:38 am
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Hello all,

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts. I do have to say that you all have points that I can agree with. I attended the Women's Leadership Conference on Sat. which is why I have not posted, as I also presented on bell hooks. Anyway, the speaker was Sally Roesh (sp) Wagner. She wrote the article that Meghan is talking about. She was the key note speaker at the conference and just said pretty much the same thing that the article said. Native American women had more freedom over the democratic process and over their own bodies than Western women did at the time that Dr. Wagner was speaking about. I stayed later to ask Dr. Wagner if more Native American tribes had this power system. She said that she is finding out that more and more tribes did have a matriarchal society. But she didn't have hard proof.
I'm with Hildreath, though on the brutality of the intertribal wars. I'm sure horrible things had to go on when there were wars between the tribes. But I would like to say that wars usually are fought when something is at stake or someone's power or territory has been usurped. I think that it is funny how as human we stake claim on "things" and these "things" give us power and cause us to go to war with each other.
I also agree with what you guys have said about religion. Christianity has placed man at the center -- God making him in his image and then making woman from man. So man was made from God and then woman made from man... there starts the system in place that has kept women in "line" so to speak. We become the "Other" because we are not the subject, man who is closer to God, is the subject. According to Christianity anyway. Not sure about how other religions see women. I do know that in some forms of Buddhism, women can obtain enlightenment but it is a harder path and the way I understand it some do not feel that women can obtain enlightenment unless they come back as a man.
I feel that the concept of "other" has lots to do with property. Dr. Wagner was taking about how women were considered their husband's property. Just like we have talked about in class, that was the case for Simone. People go to war b/c their property is being threatened. This property could be physical or imagined (I would venture to say that all this property we fight over is imagined, we really don't own anything).
Hope this contributes some. Please forgive the spelling. :wink:
I'll keep checking to see if anyone has responded, if not I'll see you guys on Wed and look forward to good conversation!!![/code]

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Jennifer


Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:07 pm
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Hildreath--
I totally forgot to mention that I presented on bell hooks on Sat. Women's Leadership Conference!! I don't know where my mind was last night when I posted but I didn't even think about it!!

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!!

:)

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Jennifer


Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:28 am
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