1 .- The relationship between Woman - a cultural and ideological composite Other constructed through diverse representational discourse (scientific, literary, juridical, linguistic, cinematic, etc.) - and women - real, material subjects of their collective histories - is one of the central questions the practice of feminist scholarship seeks to address. [. . .] I would like to suggest that the feminist writing I analyse here discursively colonize the material and historical heterogeneities [differences] of the lives of women in the third world, thereby producing/representing a composite, singular 'third-world woman' - an image which appears arbitrarily constructed but nevertheless carries with it the authorizing signature of western humanistic discourse. I argue that assumptions of privilege and ethnocentric universality on the one hand, and inadequate self-consciousness about the effect of western scholarship on the 'third world' in the context of a world system dominated by the west on the other, characterize a sizable extent of western feminist work on women in the third world. An analysis of 'sexual difference' in the form of a cross-culturally singular, monolithic notion of patriarchy or male dominance leads to the construction of a similarly reductive and homogeneous notion of what I shall call the 'third-world difference' - that stable, ahistorical something that apparently oppresses most if not all the women in these countries. It is in the production of this 'third-world diffeence' that western feminisms appropriate and colonize the constitutive complexities which characterize the lives of women in these countries. [. . .]
2 .- Farther on, Mohanty outlines three faulty assumptions she sees underlying most Western feminist analysis of 'third-world women.'