SOCB22 – Lecture 11 (March 25)
What does a particular theoretical lens or concept allow us to
see or explain?
What does it occlude (or make invisible)?
What kinds of questions does it lead you to ask?
Example: Violence as pathology
o Causes you to ask certain questions, look for certain
explanations for their violence.
o Doesn’t look for connects to greater social structures.
What does the lens of interlocking systems allow us to make
visible? What does it occlude?
o Lets us see lots of things, but sometimes not everything
is explained equally.
What does the concept of hegemonic femininity (or
masculinity) allow us to explain? What does it not explain?
What questions does the lens of interlocking systems lead us
Save the Last Dance - film
Interlocking Systems Approach
o Need to think about how gender, race, and class
How is femininity portrayed here?
o Damsel in distress. Needing to be saved by a man.
o White woman: Soft, fragile, etc.
How is masculinity portrayed here?
How are these representations underpinned by ideas of
hegemonic femininity and hegemonic masculinity?
How are they underpinned by ideas of black femininity and
o Black Femininity: Strong, sexual, etc.
o Black Masculinity
Four Controlling Images (Stereotypes) of Black Femininity
o Older black women who take care of white children.
o ―Aunt Jemima‖
o Takes care of her own family.
o Emasculating, takes over.
o Outside of respectability because they are too strong.
o From Bell Hooks
o Very sexualized.
o Outside of respectability because they are too
o The woman who is promiscuous, having children,
doesn’t work, etc.
Defining Femininity: White Femininity
―This book is predicated on a recognition that to be white and
female is to occupy a social category that is inescapably
racialized as well as gendered. It is not about being a white
woman, it is about being thought of as a white woman. In
other words I have concentrated on the development of ideas
and ideologies of whiteness rather than analysing what it
actually means to grow up white in a white supremacist
society.‖ –Vron Ware
What does it mean to be able to be ―thought of‖ as a white
(middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied) woman?
o Always relational to something else.
o Fear of black male sexuality. Myth of the black rapist.
How is the idea of respectable femininity underpinned by
―Hegemonic femininity defined as white, able-bodied, middle
and upper class, heterosexual and helpers to men in building
the nation, deeply informs the construct of the universal girl
often characterized as the fairer sex, dependent of patriarchy
without agency or subjectivity‖ –Batacharya
o One legacy of our colonial settler society is the
construction of a hegemonic femininity defined as
white, middle class, able bodied, heterosexual and
desirable (thin, fair, good girls etc). This is
counterpoised to racially subordinated women who are
constructed as deviant and a threat to heterosexual
alliances in respectable, dominant white society.
o Girl violence is a narrative that simultaneously depends
on a racialized good/bad girl dichotomy and the erasure
of racial and other difference among girls and women.
o Racial violence is endemic to racist societies. Racist
violence must be addressed historically and systemically
and not limited to a determination of the motives of
Legacy of colonial, settler context
o How is this construct visible today?
Good girl – Bad girl dichotomy
Example: violence as pathology: causes you to ask certain questions, look for certain explanations for their violence, doesn"t look for connects to greater social structures. What does it occlude: lets us see lots of things, but sometimes not everything is explained equally. Interlocking systems approach: need to think about how gender, race, and class intersect. How is femininity portrayed here: damsel in distress. Needing to be saved by a man: white woman: soft, fragile, etc. How are they underpinned by ideas of black femininity and black masculinity: black femininity: strong, sexual, etc, black masculinity. Mammy: older black women who take care of white children, aunt jemima . Matriarch: takes care of her own family, emasculating, takes over, outside of respectability because they are too strong. Jezebel: from bell hooks, very sexualized, outside of respectability because they are too sexualized. Welfare mother: the woman who is promiscuous, having children,