In a society where the production of knowledge is controlled by a certain class, the knowledge produced will reflect the interests and values of that class. In other words, in class societies the prevailing knowledge and science interpret reality from the standpoint of the ruling class. Because the ruling class has an interest in concealing the way in which it dominates and exploits the rest of the population, the interpretation of reality that it presents will be distorted in characteristic ways. In particular, the suffering of the subordinate classes will be ignored, redescribed as enjoyment or justified as freely chosen, deserved, or inevitable.
I don't really disagree with this, but I want to quibble a little bit to clarify what I think is an important point. I'm not sure that Thinking Girl will disagree with any of the following points, but I don't think they get the airtime they should (as usual, I'll be operating under the lens of race, because that's where I'm most comfortable, but the points I think cross-apply).
I agree that different classes or groups in society hold different perspectives from each other, and that these perspectives are independently valuable. I want to emphasize that I think this includes the perspective of the majority or dominant groups, so long as it is recognized as a mere perspective and not the Truth. A significant part of my future scholarly ambition is to see what happens to the dominant perspective if it is exposed as a mere perspective--both in terms of how the substance of the views would change, and in terms of what value we might derive from the now-subjectified perspective itself. Knowledge is being suppressed on both sides, albeit more so for the oppressed, and that distributional skew has substantive outcomes which reify privilege.
In this context, I do not disagree that the perspective of the oppressed is valuable in a way the majority's is not. However, I prefer the language of "uniqueness" to the language of "superior/inferior" to describe why this is--because minority perspectives are not included in the "default" worldview, the sights they are more likely to see are also more likely to provide novel insights on the world that are missing from the status quo. The White male perspective is already generally incorporated, so it is less likely to provide new ways of looking at difficult social problems. The flip side of that is that because the dominant caste can shield its mistakes from criticism by subordinated narratives, it is more likely to contain surviving errors in judgment that have yet to be exposed. Subordinated voices, by contrast, because they are constantly "in the fire," so to speak, are more likely to have purged seriously mistaken views. Hence, it isn't anything essential to the biologies of men and women or Blacks and Whites that give the subordinated party the epistemological advantage. It isn't even necessarily a question of biases: Although I think that minority perspectives are more likely to be aware of the majority view simply because of its pervasiveness, as a matter of interests there is no real reason to presume that the minority is any less biased or constrained by its perspective than the majority. Rather, the way society structures the knowledge each produces simply makes it more likely the subordinated class has more untapped veins to draw upon, because they haven't made it out into the open yet. We would be fools not to exploit those veins.
These are all tendancies, of course, they are not true in every case. As Jeremy Waldrom reminds us, majorities can be right about the rights due to minorities, minorities can be wrong about what they're owed. Uncritically choosing to adapt the subordinated perspective is mistaken as well. Nonetheless, I agree that subordinated voices, especially on issues relevant to the oppressed party, deserve implicit weight by virtue of their standpoint. And we need to bring out their stories, for all the reasons Jagger and Thinking Girl identify. Doing so will undoubtedly give us a clearer picture of the world we live in.
So why the nitpicking? Because I want to emphasize that I do not agree that simply replacing the masculine voice with the feminine one, or the White voice with the Black voice is the proper way to go. When it comes to race issues, White voices do have unique and valuable contributions to add to the discourse. Many of them, I suspect, are also structurally suppressed, in that they haven't come out because they don't make sense within a knowledge paradigm that says the White perspective is the universal perspective. Conditioned to believe that their experiences are universal, Whites haven't developed the language to talk about their experience as particularized events, and (speaking as a White) this cripples attempts to genuinely engage in racial dialogue in a very frustrating manner. But that doesn't mean that if such language came to be, the revealed thoughts might not provide clues at achieving a progressive racial vision.
Hence, I support efforts to articulate White perspectives on racial issues, too, and I think these perspectives have independent value. This is so for two reason. Ideologically, I'm uncomfortable with exiling any voice from the polity, even under the mantra of inverting hierarchies. There are plenty of democratic problems with such a move, and I have a strong pluralist commitment towards exposing and airing as many voices as possible. I don't think this has to be zero-sum. But also, from a pragmatic angle, I think that the progressive anti-racist community could score significant gains in the White community by affirming that, yes, their voice and their stories are valuable, and we want to hear them. As Kenji Yoshino has written, viewing majority members "only as impediments, as people who prevent others from expressing themselves" is a major factor in these people "respond[ing] to civil rights advocates with hostility." I don't actually think that the community is opposed to such a move, but the issue is rarely pressed and without it all this talk of "epistimological advantage" is understandably frightening to people who don't have a clue what this "post-modernism" thing is. As feminist and race theorists smarter than me have talked about, there is very little more frustrating than being stifled by linguistic inadequacy. White people, being part of our racial ecology, have stories to tell, and not only do they have no words by which to speak them, they aren't even sure they're supposed to be allowed to contribute. No wonder they default back to universalist paradigms which articulate (but do not replicate) a vision of reality that is familiar and comfortable to them. Breaking out of that paradigm necessitates a clear statements from standpoint theorists that we are interested in all standpoints, and that to the extent we are more interested in those of the minority, its a case of distributions rather than exclusion.