WOMENST 1A03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Biomedical Sciences, Womanism, Intersectionality

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Women, Culture, Power - Jan 13/16 - Cultural Construction of Gender (&
"Gender" Instead of "Woman"
Feminist terminology since the 1980s; wants to be taken seriously
Sounds like social science instead of strident activism
"Gender" is objective sounding; doesn't sound threatening
Women's Studies Departments became known as Gender's Studies
Draws attention to the inability of considering women separately from men
oThe categories of men and women are interconnected
oThe social construction of the category of "woman" implies the social
construction of the category "man"
Neither biological sex nor gendered social roles exist on their own. The
cultural meanings of our bodies exist as part of a discourse of sex, gender
and power in our society.
Step away from biology as the root of all things feminine; acknowledge that
habit and tradition take a part in creating what we see as 'masculine' or
What about Biology?
Science is not value neutral. Biomedical science has always taken part (and
taken sides) in debates about women's rights and abilities
One-Sex Model
Women are merely an inferior version of the standard-issue male body
"...Man is the measure of all things, and woman does not exist as an
ontologically distinct category" -Laqueur p.62)
Scientists saw what they expected to see when they looked at the female
body: vaginal canal is an inverted penis, etc.
Di5erence Model (18th and 19th Centuries)
The female and male body now became conceptualized in terms of opposite
bodies with 'incommensurably di5erent organs, functions and feelings'
(Laqueur)" in Oudshoorn
Males and females are direct opposites (active vs. passive, give seed vs.
receive seed, strong vs. weak, etc.)
"Naturalization" of femininity - nature is the source for what we think of as
Essence Model (Currently Prevalent)
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