Lecture 3: Tuesday September 24 , 2013h
- “One is not born but becomes a woman” – Simone de Beauvoir
- The key to thinking about patriarchy is the separation of the public as the
domain of men and the private as the domain of women
- How and why are women so different from one another? Is difference
essential or is it socially constructed?
- The concept of difference has often been tied to biology in order to explain
our differences. Does our biology determine who we are?
- Is there are essence of femaleness that prevents women from doing the same
thing men are capable of?
- Difference is socially constructed by people within societies
o Our identity and roles are shaped by our histories and culture and
therefore change over time and place. Difference is created within
human interaction, within social relations of power
- When we think of science, we think of objectiveness, rational, the notion of
truth and factual. There is an assumption that if science claims the truth,
there is no changing it. However truth itself is also a social construction.
- Science is constantly influenced by prevailing social mores of the time, as
well as prevailing socio-economic and political developments (ie. Rise of
capitalism, imperial expansion)
- No scientific method is neutral
o These methods influence knowledge that is subsequently created
- Sex: The categories of male and female and the biological characteristics and
the properties of bodies placed in these categories.
- Gender: The assignment of masculine and feminine characteristics to bodies
in cultural contexts.
- Shift from sex to gender is a social process
- Rise of Western science Is linked to the industrial revolution and
technological change – separation of nature and culture that was gendered –
o Also racialized people of colour closer to nature, ‘less than human’
- Reduction of the gendered racialized other to the body, to be examined and
tested and to be PROVED to be inferior
- Sterling’s The Biological Connection
o The creation of the public/private split allowed men to dominate the
sphere of political life.
o Search for the essence of female inferiority to prove and solidify the
social norms we have created in society
- Gould’s Women’s Brains
o Craniometry used to justify social inequalities and exploitation
o Broca’s findings were flawed
o His starting point for his analysis is that it is already known that
women are inferior to men, just trying to prove it – the notion of one
particular standpoint on what he is analyzing o Different factors that account for brain size, the ages, the height and
size, the numbers of people, the cause of death. All of these factors
play a role.
o The dangers of biological labeling
o Men of colour were also subjected to this, claiming then they had just
barely larger brains than that of a white women
- Biopower – the ways in which biology and medicine are used by
governments and other social interests to further the goals of those who are
- Martin’s The Egg And Sperm