, Research Paper
Views on Power Relationships in Politics
The article by Williams titled The Emperor s New Clothes and the article by Flax titled Women Do Theory complement each other in a number of aspects. Both women are essentially saying that society today still views people as categories instead of a homogenous society. People are male or female, black or white, and rich or poor, instead of just human beings.
Williams s views on power relationships are broader than Flax s, but still share a similar pretext. Williams sees power relationships as occurring in a variety of situations, whereas Flax discusses only the gender differences. Williams sees power relationships as existing between teachers and students, parents and children, authority figures and citizens, and finally between the haves and have-nots. Williams initially discusses how the teachers at her son s school misused their position of power when they taught the children that color doesn t matter. She says, the very reason that the teachers had felt it necessary to impart this lesson in the first place was that it did matter, and in predictably cruel ways She is upset that the teachers waited for a situation to arise, in which racial tension was apparent, before they confronted the issue. She also feels as if racial divisions are stepped around by saying it makes no difference and rarely tackled head on. She concludes The dismisiveness, however unintentional, leaves those in my son s position pulled between the clarity of their own experience and the often alienating terms in which they must seek social acceptance. Her point here is clearly that people in power positions can t tell individuals that certain things don t matter when these individuals have seen for themselves that it does. A perfect example is that of the little boy who goes to school and learns that hitting is wrong, and goes home every night and watches his dad hit his mom. How can a child decipher the importance between what he lives with day in and day out and what he is taught elsewhere?
Williams continues to discuss how authority figures in general need to accept that conventional beliefs are still strong parts in many people s ideologies. She states, we tend to enshrine the notion with a kind of utopianism whose naivete will ensure its elusiveness. In the material world ranging from playgrounds to politics, our ideals need more thoughtful, albeit more complicated, guardianship. Williams knows that confronting racial issues is always difficult and painful but she realizes that examining the issue directly is the only way to solve anything.
Her other example of power relationships is exemplified when she discusses the exnomination of the white race. This is perhaps her quintessential point in this article. How can everyone feel the same when white people aren t categorized and being of race is what you are if you aren t white. She points out that Exnomination permits whites to entertain the notion that race lives over there on the other side of the tracks, in black bodies and inner-city neighborhoods etc. and that the creation of a sense of community is a lifelong negotiation of endless subtlety.
This article has really opened up my eyes about the current racial situation today. Williams made me realize that the problem and the solution are in everybody s hands. Parents, teachers, and authority figures need to give credence to the ills of the past and propose solutions for the future before dissension occurs. By bringing to light every aspect of the issue openly and honestly you are removing the stigma and the taboo that race issues should be hushed.
Flax s article is more cut and dried than the Williams article. Flax s only concern in her article is the lack of equality between the sexes and the methods that must be employed to eradicate this inequality. Flax, like Williams, believes that historical conventions deeply affect today s manner of thinking. Flax states Plato argued that women could be philosopher kings since these should be chosen on merit and no inherent proof existed that women were any less intellectually capable than men. Other political theorists have argued that women cannot think abstractly and has a less developed moral sense. Flax uses this information to conclude Thus, part of the problem feminist theorists face is taking the general grammer and concepts of traditional theory and applying them to women and the issues that affect us.
Also like Williams Flax believes that the family is one of the central mediating structures between all other structures of oppression. Flax believes our hope for an egalitarian society lies in the next generation. She also feels that individual s internal lives (where biological and mental lives meet) must be organized and that sexuality and gender identification are important aspects in this process. Her main point in this article is that although we will never be able to eradicate differences between the genders, power should be based on achievement and not sex.
Flax s article has helped me to realize that politics is much more than who gets what, why, when, where, and how. She has made me realize that people s opinions and lifestyle are actually melting pots of their own experiences, what they ve been taught, and varying historical beliefs. The only way the power holders in politics will ever be able to correct societies flaws are to look at them in the above way. Correction needs to begin on every level, with every race, religion, gender, and age group, if they ever expect it to work.