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UNI101Y1 Chapter Notes -British Empire, Virilization, White Supremacy

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Scott Rayter

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- Imperial British, French, or Dutch women experienced colonial society differently than
men because they were both subordinates because they were women but also a
privileged imperial group because they were European
- The very categories of “colonizer” and “colonized” were secured through forms of sexual
control that defined the domestic arrangements of Europeans and the ways they
identified their own culture
- Colonial authority was constructed on the premise that Europeans in the colonies made
up a separate and easily identifiable entity with common interests, culture, biological
attributes, etc.
- But there were major conflicts in the colonies between colonizers, ex. between lower-
class whites and capitalists, between bureaucrats and planters, etc.
- It was thus difficult to identify who the “real” Europeans were
- The Europeans identified the colonies as sexually “other” and deviant, although these
descriptions really provided an outlet for their own fantasies
- Sexual prescriptions by class, race, and gender became central to the politics of the
- Oriental women, for example, were portrayed as subordinate to and possessed by white
males, serving as a metaphor for colonialism
- European women are rarely portrayed as the object of white males’ desire
- Did the conveyance of dominant and subordinate sexual relations mean something unto
itself or was it simply a stand in for other power relations and political desires?
- Sexual control was more than just a metaphor for colonial domination, but also a
fundamental class and racial marker
- It was through the policing of sex that European civil servants were kept in line and racial
boundaries were maintained
- European women of different classes experienced colonialism very differently from each
other and from men
- Sander Gilman suggests that sexuality is the most salient marker of otherness and so
figures in any racist ideology
- The demasculinization of colonized men and the hypermasculinity of European males
represent principal assertions of white supremacy
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