Posted by: marycib | October 27, 2010

Male Preoccupation with Power

The connection between colonization and the male need for power offers an explanation for the practice of men naming things in order to lay claim and authority over those objects. The examples McClintock gives should also be noted because they are associated with women being degraded in the process of men assuming dominance. McClintock explains how the “discovery” of various empires were not actually breakthrough discoveries because there were communities already established in these locations. While the naming of the discovered land gave men control over that land, “…the imperial act of discovery is a surrogate birthing ritual: the lands are already peopled, as the child is already born. Discovery, for this reason, is a retrospective act” (29). The concept of naming things to assert control over them becomes connected with the naming of a child because during that time period there was not an absolute certainty that it was the father’s child, while it was a certainty for women because they carried the child in their womb. After the child is born, “…men diminish women’s contribution…by reducing them to vessels and machines-mere bearers-without creative agency or the power to name” (29). The male preoccupation with naming and claiming things reveals their insecurity and tenuous hold of power because it is not definitive. This idea is interesting because it is not even the father’s desire for the child to have his name because he is proud of his child, but rather because he does not wish for his manliness to be reduced. This again connects with imperial discovery because by “…naming ‘new’ lands, male imperials mark them as their own, guaranteeing thereby…a privileged relation to origins-in the embarrassing absence of other guarantees. Hence the imperial fixation on naming, on acts of ‘discovery,’ baptismal scenes and male birthing rituals” (29). This is an important concept because during the early stages of colonization, native cultures and societies were overlooked and their claim to their land was disregarded. Men treated the indigenous people with the same regard that they treated women because they wished to assume control over both.


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