“Sympathetic individuals who are not members of an oppressed group … should realize that nothing they may do … can make them one of the oppressed. For instance, men who share household and child-rearing responsibilities with women are mistaken if they think that this act of choice, often buttressed by the gratitude and admiration of others, is anything like the woman’s experience of being forcibly socialized into these tasks and of having others perceive this as her natural function in the scheme of things.”

Excerpt from Narayan, Uma. 2003. “The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a Nonwestern Feminist.” Pp. 308-317 in Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives edited by C. R. McCann and S. Kim. New York: Routledge.

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[Free version citation: Narayan, Uma. 2004. “The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a Nonwestern Feminist.” Pp. 213-224 in The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies edited by S. Harding. New York: Routledge. This essay is one of Narayan’s most famous. In the section, “The Dark Side of “Double Vision””, Narayan defines the term “epistemic advantage“:

“the oppressed … can operate with twos sets of practices and in two different contexts. This advantage is thought to lead to critical insights because each framework provides a critical perspective on the other.” (Narayan 2003:315)

Shortly after which Narayan addresses the cons that are less explicit in this so-called “advantage” (an “epistemic disadvantage”, if you will). The entire section is certainly worth reading in its entirety, especially those familiar with Du Bois’s concept of “double consciousness“.]

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