WSTA03 Lec 7.docx

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Women's and Gender Studies
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

WSTA03 Lec 7  1. Storm’s story: a genderless child o Storm o Parents chose not to disclose gender of the child - did not want to identify them as boy or girl because they wanted the child to figure it out for themselves o VIDEO: Storm’s Story  Parents received a lot of backlash due to this  Questions that Storm’s story raises  What is postmodernism? o Going beyond something o Certainties in the past are questioned o Brings the idea that gender is shaped by language, discourse, and representation  Discourse - define this in essays!! • Discussions, patterns of practices • Important postmodern idea  Our gender is not something we are born with, it is something that is shaped through language • E.g. calling children he or she or dressing them in a certain way - these are codes that create gender • Are discursive • Not innate o Therefore gender is fluid  Gender changes; it is not the same in different cultures  Contextual; based on the world we live in o Therefore gender can be a choice individuals make  If it is contextual, we can choose to perform gender  Historical background: Postmodernism o What is it? o Postmodernism is defined as an umbrella term covering many things; basically, th st ideas belonging to second part of 20 century and still part of the 21 century - ideas are not based on one single truth. There are many ways of understanding the world  Everyone has a different perspective (e.g. sitting in different areas of the lecture hall makes the front of the hall look different)  Idea of multiplicity - questioning absolute truth and absolute perspective  What is postmodernism? o VIDEO:  Modernism - world we know of science and facts  Postmodernism - after modernism • Attitude toward truth claims; questioning truth claims • Truth claims = fixed ideas • Incredulity toward metanarratives - skeptical attitude to claims of absolute/objective truth • Rejection of any one narrative o Postmodernism - every answer is right; many different right answers - not like biology, chemistry, sciences where there is one right answer  Questioning the idea of a single truth o Modern and post-modern era move away from the Enlightenment (belief in truth, objectivity and scientific reason) o Postmodernism is the “incredulity towards all meta-narratives”  What is postmodernism? o No single interpretation or narrative. No single form of power or resisting power of domination o Do you see this way of thinking reflected in our contemporary society? how?  Definition of feminism - many different ideas  Freedom of speech  Democracy of voices  Multiculturalism  Sexual diversity  The many faces of gender o Pictures: gender is fluid, intersectional o Gender is an assumption; something we understand because we have been taught to decode certain gender codes  It is not natural  Example of postmodern thinking o Different from liberal feminism and radical feminism - they take for granted the “woman” category  Liberal feminists define “woman” as a single, absolute category - Enlightenment thinking o Postmodern femininity says there is nothing called a “woman” - “woman” is how we see it. It is the idea of “woman” being intersected by other forms of oppression  Black feminism is more in line with postmodern feminism than Enlightenment feminism o Boundaries between these theories are not clear cut  Postmodern Feminism challenges the idea of a single reality for women o Postmodern feminism is a generic term/umbrella term - highlights diversity of women worldwide  Has more of an idea of what it means to be a woman  Challenges theories that universalize  Questions cultural relativism - different sexualities, voices, etc. o Recognizes the multiplicity of meaning  E.g. Storm can create his/her own story o Can deconstruct discourses in a similar way  Idea of gender that the difference between one theory and another have clear cut lines  this is not true  Introduces multiplicity  3. Queer theory o Postmodern feminist theory that focuses on how gender, sex and sexuality are usually interconnected and are performatively enacted o Gender, sex and sexuality categories are contingent (like contextual); depend on place and time and where these interactions occur o Gender is discursive.  E.g. the way people dress babies, dress, do their hair, how they talk  we perform gender. Like impersonations that are taken as real life  Viewing: Judith butler o VIDEO:  Our acting/role playing is crucial to the gender we are and what we show to the world  For something to be performative, means it causes a series of effects  We talk, walk, etc. in a certain way that portrays our gender  Nobody really is a gender from the start (performative)  Institutional powers and informal practices (bullying) that keeps us in our gendered place  Gender is culturally formed, but is also a domain of agency and freedom o Gender is something that people keep doing. Consequence: it becomes truth  E.g. women shaving their legs - some men think women do not have any hair o Queer theory questions truth claims  Performativity o Gender is performative - heterosexuality is a byproduct o E.g. Olympics - have male and female couple pairs  These performances give off the truth that men are built differently and
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