In Chapter 4 of Beyond Identity Politics: Feminism, Power & Politics, Moya Lloyd explores the tensions between poststructuralism and theories of domination the rely on systemic theories, arguing for a â€œglobal strategyâ€ understanding of domination that focuses on â€œwomenâ€™s multiple and disparate subordinationsâ€ (87). She does so by offering an exegesis of Teresa Ebertâ€™s theory of resistance postmodernism, which works from a materialist feminist definition of patriarchy; and critiquing it for privileging the economic structure of patriarchy and â€œcasting multiplicity […] as primarily culturalâ€ (81, emphasis in original). For Lloyd, domination cannot be understood in terms of a single theory and must be understood as â€œthe effect of the mobilization and transformation of a multiplicity of dispersed, localized, polymorphous mechanisms of powerâ€ (86).
While I agree with Lloyd that we must understand domination as localized and multiple, and that Ebertâ€™s theory is problematic, I am concerned that Lloyd might also too quickly dismiss Ebertâ€™s understanding of patriarchyâ€”though my understanding of Ebert comes solely from Lloydâ€™s exegesis and critique. Ebertâ€™s theory of resistance postmodernism sees patriarchy as a systemic economic system that subjugates and exploits women and â€œis â€˜necessaryâ€™ to the very existence and prosperity of the majority of socio-economic systems in the world and is fundamental to the global expansion and colonization of capitalismâ€ (Ebert, qtd. in 80). Ebertâ€™s theory, as Lloyd conveys it, admits itself to differences throughout time and location, meaning that patriarchy is not the same in every context. While all women are oppressed under patriarchy, they experience that subordination in various ways (80-81).
Lloyd claims that Ebert is working under some â€œquestionable assumptions,â€ including the possibility for objective critique, the conflation of the economic with the material, and the belief that the cultural is not material and not as important as the economic (81-82). These critiques seem valid to me. However, unlike Lloyd and in line with Ebert, I do see patriarchy as a part of â€œthe majority of socio-economic systems in the worldâ€ (80). For example, I see those â€œinstancesâ€ cited on page 87 (legislation preventing women from entering certain occupations, compulsory sterilization of African-American women, etc.) as â€œnecessarily originat[ing] as part of a system organized to subordinate womenâ€ (87). Of course, I am not saying they solely originate from that system, for other systems are at play as well. My point is that I do think we need to understand patriarchy as â€œa totality in processâ€ that plays out differently in different contexts (Ebert, qtd. in 80).