WOMEN ST 1A03 Lecture 1: Lecture 1 - Jan 7.docx

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Women: People in bodies that are sexed as female
Gender
The cultural meaning of living in a sexed body, usually defined as male or female
= One major factor in how most societies distribute power (bell hooks: Gender
domination is not the root of all exploitation and crisis. “It is, however, the form of
domination we are most likely to encounter in our daily lives…”)
- Not all women have the same experiences (bell hooks: calls attention to the
intersection of sex, race and class in determining experiences of “woman;”
problematizes notion of “common oppression” of women)
- Not all women are positioned equally in (global) hierarchies (bell hooks: women
are part of the paradigm of domination in multiple ways)
Power
- Control of, or access to, institutions sanctioned by the state
- The ability to define reality and to convince other people to accept this definition
- Ownership and control of political, social and economic resources and the
capacity to make and enforce decisions based on this ownership and control
- The capacity of a group of people to decide what they want and to act in an
organized way to get it (for the individual, power is the capacity to act)
If the meanings of being a “man” or a “woman” are shaped by nature but also by culture
i.e. human activity…
then these same definitions of masculinity and femininity can also be changed by humans
i.e. through and in culture
Culture  Gender  Power
Challenging the proposed dichotomy between the “public” and the “private” spheres,
where:
Public = Political, prioritized, “male”
Private = Domestic, emotional, “female”
Public:
- Our domestic/emotional lives are not separated from our public/political existence.
These are intimately intertwined.
- The political realm extends into the domestic, familial, emotional sphere via laws,
customs, and definitions.
Culture
- “High-end” creative production
- What is implicitly opposed to nature: the practices that define us, collectively and
in distinct groups, as human
- “The sphere of meaning, which unifies the spheres of production (economics) and
social relations (politics)” – Susie O’brien and Imre Szeman
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