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Interestingly, the Politics of Passion proves that just the opposite is true. Women who reject traditional paradigms also reject Western idealisms about sexuality, marriage, families, desire and identity. Through their sexual activities, the mati women described by Wekker embody each of these elements, and liberate themselves sexuality, which in turn leads to greater power, greater autonomy and greater independence. Women are encouraged in this environment to rely on their own instincts, knowledge and expertise to do what they feel is best for them. They are encouraged, contrary to what most women experience, to do what makes them feel good. In this way they escape the chains that bind and subordinate many women living in other cultures who are brought up to believe gender distinctions exist and women have certain responsibilities and places.
If one were to adopt the mati perspective and apply it to their life, they would find that women are more dominate than subordinate, capable of fulfilling all their needs, including their need for love, for a sexual partner, for a family and for children should they choose. They can take up office and work as they please. So powerful is this force it shapes the lives of the women who adopt this paradigm for living.
Since the dawn of time women in many other cultures have suppressed their sexuality. This in turn leads to suppression or subordination of women in other respects, including in their relationships, their careers and their lives. Women, by taking charge and reveling in their sexuality, or their passion, realize true power. They learn more about their self, by discovering what they find pleasing, and what they find displeasing, and act accordingly to satisfy their most basic needs.
Paradigm of Power
Within Wekker's work one realizes the paradigm for power among women rests largely in their perceptions of gender and sexuality. Women are liberated when they become sexually free and when they blur the distinctions between gender, race and ethnicity. Society has for so long focused on gender and identity it has created a paradigm that subordinates women in all ways, including in work, in relationships and in life.
Beagan (2001) claims that "micro inequalities construct a climate that marginalizes and alienates some groups" which in turn reinforces hierarchies of inequality despite efforts one might make toward liberation or equality (p.583). In her studies, Beagan refers specifically to blatant forms of discrimination evident in medical schools, where students are often "heterogeneous" when one considers a student's "gender, race, class and sexual orientation" (p. 583). A social construct exists not only within this environment but within society at large that indirectly subordinates women despite said "claims" to encourage greater equality. Key to overcoming inequalities and liberating women as Wekker suggests, is exploring cultural norms and encouraging women like the mati to overcome social constructs that classify women as subordinate or inadequate when they do not follow social or cultural norms.
The mati are the idea example of how liberated women can be when they embrace their gender, sexuality and passion rather than shy away from it, or rely on traditional social constructs that may serve no real purpose in modern society.
Women's liberation leads to power. To achieve power women must learn to adopt a new paradigm of self, one that encourages women to explore their sexuality and independence, and pay attention to their need for joy, sexual fulfillment and prosperity.
The most important point to take away from Wekker's analysis is that women's notions of self, sexuality, and gender directly link with the power and autonomy she has within society. To liberate women, to encourage women to resist against social constructs that would subordinate them, one must first encourage women to explore their sexuality and learn ways to find pleasure in their sexuality. To feel liberated, women must not view the object of sex as reproduction, but rather as a means of self-fulfillment and pleasure. By understanding this concept, anthropologists and women's rights leaders can provide women a better paradigm for achieving success and upward mobility regardless of the social constructs they live within.
Beagan, Brenda. (2001). Micro inequities and everyday inequalities: "Race," gender, sexuality and class in medical school. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 26(4): 583.…[continue]
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