The Coloniality of Gender by Maria Lugones

In the article, The Coloniality of Gender, by Maria Lugones, the author provides valuable insights on the construction of social reality in which there is an intersection of race, gender, and colonization. The article attempts to negate the existing literatures concerning how colonization affects gender arrangements  and how the collaboration among the three sociological factors is able to establish what Lugones called the moderncolonial gender system.

In order to further the systematic understanding of the light side of the  moderncolonial gender system, the author ventures on the wisdom of the scholarly works constructed by feminists in the third world and by Women of Color feminists and on a framework established by Anibal Quijano titled The Coloniality of Power. The author also expounds on the topic by citing valuable knowledge from Julie Greenbergs article titled Definitional Dilemmas.

According to Lugones, Quijanos musing on coloniality and gender is too narrow because it is limited on the boundaries of global, Eurocentered capitalist understanding of gender (Lugones 2008). The main point of quijanos framework instigates the idea that the non-white colonized women  are disempowered by the oppressive and violent features of patriarchal  and heterosexual arrangements in the society. Lugones is quick to point out that Quijanos conceptual view of the gender disputes over the Eurocentered resources somewhat fails to include some important notions on the modern and colonnial understandings of the issue of gender.

The author claims that Quijano seems to neglect both the light and dark sides of the moderncolonial gender system. In this system,  Lugones insists that gender is a colonial concept consisting of the light and dark side. The light side of the system is composed of  biological dimorphism and heterosexual patriarchy  (Lugones, p.2, 2008).  According to Lugones, Quijano is not being  aware of the hegemonic meaning of gender  (Lugones, p. 2, 2008).

The hegemonic meaning of the light side of the modern system of gender revolves around the collision among sexual dimorphism which is the malefemale figure the gender binary which is the manwoman figure heterosexual attributes and the patriarchal distribution of power (Lugones 2008). The author emphasizes that the light side of the modern system is applicable only to the colonizing and the bourgeois societal classes that have generallly become the hegemonically known as the natural and exclusive meaning of gender.

Lugones says that Quijanos framework  restricts gender to the organization of sex, its resources and products and he seems to make a presupposition as to who controls the access and who becomes the constituted as resources  (Lugones, p. 6, 2008). Supporting what the author considers as the light side of the moderncolonial gender system, she stresses that some points evident in the  framework of Quijano should be negated in order to come up with a legal and valid view of gender. Lugones says that Quijano may be taking it for granted that the  disputes over the control of sex is a dispute of among men, about mens control of resources who are thought to be female  (Lugones, p. 6, 2008).

Meanwhile, the dark side of the of the moderncolonial gender system reduces the colonized to non-human beasts, creatures being deemed as hermaphroditic monstrosities, non-gendered animals which are strongly suited for violent and oppressive exploitation of labor, including the forced breeding with the colonizers and the ones being colonized. Lugones is quick to point out that  those in the dark side were not necessarily understood dimorphically  (Lugones, p. 7, 2008).  The author claims that the  sexual fears of the coloniers led them to imagine the indigenous people of the Americas as hermaphrodites or intersexec, with large penises and breasts flowing with milk  (Lugones, p.7, 2008).

The concept of the dark side is explained throughly by the author using the Julie Greenbergs work titled Definitional Dilemmas.  According to Greenberg,  legal institutions have the power to assign individuals to a particular racial or sexual category  (as cited in Lugones, p.6, 2008).

During the colonial period, the colonizers picked the option to co-opt the allegiance of colonized males to the females inn the society by considering men as crucial decision-makers. Given this conception, Lugones emphasizes that by considering males as the decision-makers, dominance is encouraged and a gender structure is being created. This structure then turns women into subordinate beings while men are able to disrupts the social structure through internal betrayals. Thus, colonization has led to the formation of a structure complimentary to that of the light side of  the moderncolonial gender system and which is being determined by the pursuit of producing dominated and dominant people in the society.

But according to Lugones, several critiques on gender and egalitarianism have brought out the idea Quijanos modern use of science. Quijanos claims that the  cosmetic and substantive corrections to biology make very clear that gender is antecedent to the biological traits and gives them meaning  (as cited in Lugones, p.7, 2008).

With this concept, it can be said that the organization of sex and the construction of gender relationship with coloniality, capital and labor are continnually being shaped by several forms of feminist thinking. Given this statement, the author concludes her article by saying that the  we need   to understand the orgnization of the so as to make visible our collaboration with the systematic racialized gender violence, so as to come to an inevitable recognition of it in our maps of reality.


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