Theoretical Lens Paper
In this paper, I will identify the theoretical perspective that will be used to interpret and analyze the MuteRKelly movement and its’ relevance in disclosing and addressing the lack of awareness of sexual assault and abuse of African American women, the lack of inclusiveness and acknowledgement within the larger context of women movements, from the Women’s Liberation movement in 1913 to the current MeToo movement and the historical patterns and negative perception and lack of credibility of African American women in the US. Referencing the docuseries, there were several key factors addressed: minimal exposure, awareness and concern of the sexual abuse that was experienced by the victims, and the stereotype and accusations the victims faced during the trial.
Researching and understanding how these historical patterns have impacted African American women, we can apply several theoretical perspectives. I will focus on the Standpoint theory and Intersectionality theory. Standpoint theory refers to historically shared group based experiences and the commonality of groups in the same hierarchy power structure which also share common experiences of power relations (Collins, 1997). Grouping women in one group and examining the shared experiences over history, from inequality to sexual abuse, demonstrates the need and rise of women movements and how women have voiced their objection. Many feminists express the need for solidarity to unite in order to make an impact in legislation, awareness and change in behavior but neglect the concept of intersectionality of marginalized women. Intersectionality suggests that gender alone cannot be a factor without considering other issues of race, history and class of a woman’s experience (Samuels & Ross-Sheriff, 2008). African American women while having shared common experiences as the majority group are marginalized within this larger group in addition to experiencing inequality and sexual abuse, also experience racism and segregation which fosters inequality within that power structure group of women.
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As a result, African American women voices and concerns are minimized (Collins, 1997). Standpoint theory is helpful in understanding the limitation and disconnect between white women and African American women in the struggle of equality and justice for women rights. African American women experiences of inequality and more specifically sexual abuse and how it’s treated by the authorities is not the same and more complicated than what Caucasian women experience within the US (DuMont, Lee-Miller, & Myhr, 2003). The lack of credibility and respect African American women experience in sexual abuse cases, are multiply burdened with actual abuse experienced and the element of racism, as a result, perceived as not a real victim (DuMont, Lee-Miller, & Myhr, 2003).
Based on this, applying the standpoint theory of learning to accommodate for differences from within the movement of marginalized African American women, as well as other marginalized women groups must allow for these differences in order to be inclusive to maximize the movements influence and effect (Collins, 1997). Understanding that multiple realities yield multiple perceptions of realities and how the power relations of the privilege generate differences in the group standpoint makes for the argument of true solidarity of women (Collins, 1997).