The center publishes a number of reports and newsletters during the year. The Matrix is the major publication produced by the center and is typically distributed each August. The Matrix Moment is distributed on a quarterly basis. Our community can expect to receive a digital copy of The Matrix Moment twice a semester.
Though not confirmed by original sources, rumor has it that the Matrix was chosen as the name of the Women and Gender Studies newsletter in order to reflect the concept of the “matrix of domination” developed by black feminist scholars Patricia Hill Collins, Bonnie Thorton Dill and Maxine Baca Zinn.
In short, the Matrix of Domination was developed as a concept to represent the fact that in order to truly understand oppression we must understand its counter position of privilege. Moving beyond the decades old tradition of focusing only on the oppressed (African Americans, women, the poor, LGBTQ), the concept of the Matrix of Domination forces us to confront two key truths: that oppression is created by privilege and that we all occupy some statuses of privilege, regardless of our statuses as oppressed. Providing a framework for understanding oppression as an outcome of privilege forces us to examine the role that individual actors and institutions play in both creating oppression and benefiting from it. For example, during slavery it was masters who benefited economically from slave labor, and thus they had a stake in maintaining the system of the slave plantation. Similarly, the US system of “parental leave”---an interesting term given the fact that though eligible , few men ever take it---benefits men by removing, at least temporarily, women as competition in the labor market. In fact, regardless of whether an individual woman may take parental leave, the presence of this policy results in hiring and wage discrimination against women, which in turn benefits men. Today’s ferocious debates about gay marriage provide a contemporary illustration of this as well.
Second, the concept of the Matrix of Domination challenges all of us to examine the ways in which we hold positions of privilege and benefit from these. For example, only 25% of all Americans earn a college education. Thus, a college student who is a racial/ethnic minority, a woman, identifying as LGBTQ, and Jewish, who grew up in poverty holds at least one status of privilege: education! Additionally, she likely holds others, including being able-bodied and being a citizen of the richest country in the world.
The power of the concept of the matrix of domination lies in its ability to take off the blinders and expose the complexities of power, privilege, and oppression as it operates in individual lives, in institutionalized policies and practices, and in the creation of hegemonic ideologies.