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Social Positions As Product Of Race, Gender And Class

1084 words - 5 pages

As Sedgewick observes, one’s social position is affected by various axis of classification such as gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity and the interplay of these social identities. In The Color Purple by Alice walker, Sedgewick’s observations ring true. Celie, the main character in Walker’s novel, is a perfect example of these observations put forth by Sedgewick. Celie’s social position is indicative of her gender, sexuality, race, and class; as a Black woman living in Georgia in 1910 to 1940, one can expect to witness the general ‘acceptable’ racism present within the novel towards people of color. Despite the ‘acceptable’ racism, the novel accentuates the hardships and struggles the ...view middle of the document...

These burden[‘s are] largely [considered to be] the consequence of gender and class oppression” (Crenshaw 6-7). Due to Celie already coming from a low income, poor family, and getting pulled out of school in order to raise her brothers and sisters, she is not given an opportunity to continue with school in order to get an education and eventually a good paying job. Even though Celie’s stepfather is oppressed because he’s Black, Celie is more oppressed because she’s a Black woman: when Celie’s teacher went to the house in attempt to get Celie’s father to allow Celie to go back to school, “she see how tight my dress is, she stop talking and go” (Walker 10). Celie has no control over her social position; she is subordinate to the even most oppressive race and class.
Not only is Celie in a social position that forces her to be the ‘lesser’ being in terms of race and class, as Leo Bersani suggests in “Loving men:” “lesbians are an oppressed group sexually invested in an oppressed group,” (Bersani 118) essentially meaning that lesbian women more so oppressed due to the fact that they are sexually attracted to another oppressed group. Celie is more so oppressed due to her sexuality: “I don’t even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho;” (Walker 5) since she is not attracted to men but she is attracted to women: “Shug Avery was a woman. The most beautiful woman I ever saw” (Walker 6). Therefore, Celie being a woman, a Black woman, a Black lesbian woman forces her further into an oppressive social position.
Moreover, Sofia is burdened with the same oppression that plagues Celie and other characters within the novel. Sofia is a Black woman who marries Albert’s son, Harpo. Sofia, from a young age learned the struggles of being in the social position she was placed in as Crenshaw suggests, “the violence that many women experience is often shaped by other dimensions of their identities, such as race and class” (Crenshaw 3). Because Sofia is a poor Black female, like Celie, she is expected to be a victim of...

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