What is freedom? A simple question, consisting of only three words yet the answer is not as easy. Today when we began our discussions I was asked this question. My mind raced to find an answer but i failed to come up with a concise answer. Saba Mahmood in her Essay about Feminism defines Freedom as Positive and Negative. Negative Freedom refers to the absence of external obstacles to self-guided choice and action whether imposed by the state, cooperation, or private individuals. Positive Freedom on the other hand, is understood as the capacity to realize an autonomous will, one generally fashioned in accord with the dictates of “universal reason” or “self-interest,” and hence unencumbered by the weight of custom, transcendental will, and tradition.
It took my mind a while to try and go around these highly intellectual ideas but after some thought a question came to mind. Mahmood ‘s definition of Freedom is based on two assumptions that free will exits and also that there is “universal reason.” But what is free will-free will is sometimes defined as freedom from causation, furthermore do we as people have free will?
To put it into context the Muslim 16 year old girl who says she chooses to wear a Hi jab, is it really her choice? Is she not saying she would rather choose to wear a Hi jab than face the consequences that come with post-structuralism? (Another big term learned today) In the same breadth who dictates what society should consider post-structuralism? And as for women is there a singular definition of Feminist Freedom that can be applied across the board-from the blond haired blue eyed woman walking the streets of New York to the chocolate skinned, thick Afro hair woman walking the streets of Kenya?
All these questions I have not answers to but discussing these concepts opened my mind up to try and seek the answers from my peers and also from the world.