THE MASTER'S TOOLS WILL NEVER DISMANTLE THE MASTER'S HOUSE: BOOK REVIEW
“No woman is responsible for altering the psyche of her oppressor, even when that psyche is embodied in another woman.”
Audre Lorde’s The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House challenges rampant racism and homophobia that exists within feminism. By recognizing our differences and acting on that recognition, rather than simply acknowledging it, liberation becomes much more attainable. Lorde proposes an intersectional approach against systems of power and oppression that white feminism claims it is undoing.
Her philosophies are a framework, becoming increasingly etched into the minds of our generation. By addressing the pertinent issues at the core of our activism, we can create more effective and long-lasting results in the work that is produced. One conversation Lorde engages her readers in, which I think is extremely timely and necessary to address, is the centering of people of color while simultaneously excluding Black voices:
“A white academic welcomes the appearance of a collection by non-Black women of colour. ‘It allows me to deal with racism without dealing with the harshness of Black women,’ she says to me.”
Oftentimes academia and activism hide under the guise of progressiveness when beyond the veil is neglect and further oppression. In these spaces, it is simply not enough to make way for people of color, the same individuals that often possess anti-Blackness, and benefit from the activism and work of Black individuals. There is a clear identification of harm being done even when it may not seem so obvious.
Another critical point Lorde brings up is the use of eroticism as a source of strength. While the erotic has been used to undervalue women, it is a force imperative to self-understanding and enrichment. She highlights that women who are empowered are dangerous, and as a result, must separate erotic demands from nearly every aspect of their lives.
However, eroticism goes beyond sex and pornography and is elevated as a form of fulfillment that a woman undergoes. This act of redefining the erotic dissects the system that white patriarchy operates on, which equates sexuality with eroticism, and begins to define intersectionality. She creates an active shift against the racist and heteronormative systems that also exist within the control of eroticism.
Lorde’s wide array of insights are all to be deeply reflected on and practiced. While there is much to learn from her writing, the poeticism of her voice is to be embraced too. Her words are roars of thunder but also emit the warmth of sunlight. The beauty in her delivery serves as a fundamental example of the necessary presence that poetry has in womanhood. Lorde herself is a living embodiment of that poetry.
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”