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Women's Studies
Women's Studies 2160A/B
Wendy Pearson

Intimacy 10/8/2012 3:12:00 PM Womens Studies Interdisciplinary field that encompasses questions of gender, sexuality, and diversity Look at intimate relations from a wide variety of perspectives Gender and sexuality a good place to start, but looking at how gender and sexuality affect our relationships and our notions of intimacy also means ranging over a wide array of academic and populist approaches, from TV to art to science to architecture Social Science Approaches Some have theorized it as a need for either: o Affiliation o Intimacy (which seems a bit circular) o Belonging (which brings together affiliation and intimacy) Changing Forms of Intimacy Intimacy changes over time is clear Factors like gender, sexuality, race and class all play a role in these changes o Same-sex relations were illegal o Interracial relations were illegal until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia) o Class and wealth can affect the space and time one has for different types of intimacy Different Types of Intimacy Family values o Leave it to beaver v. slave owners selling children they fathered In 19 thcentury, divorce was rare, but there were still large number of single parent families, due to lower life expectancies in general Esp. in middle class, large families very common Upper class mothers saw children very little, child rearing reserved for wet nurse, nanny, and governess Changing the Styles of Family Leave it to Beaver family not actually traditional North America began with other forms of family the various clan systems of the First Nations and the typical European settler family Families in the 17 , 18 , and 19 thcenturies were united by the need to produce food or goods or both; marriages often arranged and children were essential labour in all but the wealthiest families Effects of Industrialization Industrialization (along with urbanization) changed the face of the family As factory jobs became available, production moved from the family unit to the industrial unit Although this created significant amounts of urban poverty and despair, it also provided opportunities for those who wished to live outside their natal family (at one point, it was illegal in the US for an unmarried adult not to live with his/her parents) Gender and Change Both women and men took advantage of new ways to earn a living and new possibilities for different kinds of family (including the possibility to remain single) The ability to make ones own living and to live independently made a lesbian or gay identity more possible and helped to foster existing urban queer subculture Women in WWII o Women worked on farms and factories, drove ambulances on the battlefield, flew planes (not in combat) o After the war, there was huge governmental and social pressures on them to give up their work and return to domestic life The Changing Face of Intimacy Ideologically, society by and large believed in returning women to domestic roles in the newly created nuclear family, by the 60s and 70s, economics was making the working husband, stay-at- home mother increasingly difficult to sustain Feminism emphasized the rights of women to pursue the careers, but it was economics that forced many women into the workforce The working family became the norm, defeating the feminist idea that either parent might stay home with the children or that children could be raised in more collective situations (e.g., the periods communes) If we look back over 300 years, we see a movement away from the family as a unit of survival and production to the family as a unit bound by both love and affiliation Marriages have changed a lot over this period as well, from arranged where women had few or no rights, to marriages based on love and companionship Parental relations have also changed, as the roles of both women and men have shifted a number of times for men from head of a productive family to breadwinner for those dependent upon him to a new ideal of marital and gender equality The Language of Intimacy Body Language o Why do we think body language when we think about the language of intimacy? o What about verbal forms of intimacy? Verbal o How do we talk about intimacy? In particular, sexual intimacy when so much of the language consists of four letter words (even when theyre not)? o What happens when one set of slang is incomprehensible to others or even creates confusion and miscommunication? Translation between English-English and North American- English, confusion is common. Gendered Language o Unlike many other languages where cursing involves religious terms (i.e. French sacred, host, chalice), English swear words are particularly attached to the body and especially to its sexual and excretory functions o These words are also gendered: slang words for male genitalia tend to be powerful and often threatening, while the majority of words taken from womens body parts are understood as weak, passive, etc. If two people in a relationship have completely different relations to the language they use for their own and each others bodies what does this mean for their experience of intimacy? o Many words used for sex are either slang or considered rude and inappropriate. In many cases, words that were once descriptive acts have come to be understood as negative offensive threatening, etc. Other words seem to have had negative meanings attached to them from early on Ex. Fuck th Dutch fokken to mock (15 century), to strike (1591), to fool/gull (1623), to beget children (1657), to grow/cultivate (1772) Norwegian regional fukka - to copulate Swedish regional fokka - to copulate (compare to fock penis) Perhaps an Indo-European root meaning to strike also shown by Latin pugnus - fist Perhaps Old Icelandic fjuka - to be driven on, tossed by thew wind; feykja to blow, drive away Perhaps Middle high German fochen to hiss, blow; ficken to rub, itch, scratch, have sexual intercourse (1558) Language as an Insult o Lang. can be used to insult and deride people based on intimate aspects of their lives, such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. Ex. Interracial relationship o Negative language can be used to demean women (slut- shaming) Girls are taught to police their own behaviours for fear of being called everything from a whore to a cock- tease
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