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WMST 2000 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Avail, Clavichord, Jargon

Women's Studies
Course Code
WMST 2000
Martina Meyer
Study Guide

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Judith Butler / Gender Trouble
Theorized that gender and sexuality is performative, not biologically determined
It is not a voluntary choice to act on the socially prescribed behaviours which are
passed on from one generation to the next
being a man or woman is not an internal fact but a phenomenon that is changing
Judith Butler additional reading:
o A central concept of the theory is that one’s gender is constructed through
one’s own repetitive performance of gender
o There is no self preceding or outside a gendered self
o Butler’s theory includes the idea that gender is stylized repetition of acts
so that the appearance of substance is precisely that - a constructed
o performativity of gender is imitation or miming of the dominant
conventions of gender - it’s been happening for many years before a
person is born
o Biological sex can be cancelled out by socialization (sec is replaced by the
social meanings it takes on)
o Ideology of heterosexuality is based off of gender roles (for reproductive
o performativity of gender can be subversive
o Based off of an anatomy, identification will follow
Judith Butler’s theory
Socially prescribed behaviours that are re-enacted from one generation to the next,
and is often viewed as not a voluntary choice
The idea that you can be whatever gender you act as instead of being biologically
Not necessarily freedom but actually working the trap that one is inevitably in
Simone de Beauvoir / The Second Sex
Ground-breaking, controversial, critiques patriarchy, continues to challenge
patriarchy and the social, political and religious categories used to justify women’s
inferior status
English translation makes it possible to understand the existential-
phenomenological grounds of her feminist analysis of the forces that subordinate
women to men and designate woman as the Other
Discusses an institution vs. human, not men vs. women
“One is not born but becomes a woman”
For phenomenologists, the world usually denotes a combination of the natural
world and human relationships. A key aspect of phenomenology is the interaction
between self and world, and The Second Sex may be best understood as a work of
phenomenology in which Beauvoir examines the interaction between the gendered
self and the gendered world. The Second Sex looks at how social ideas of
femininity shape women’s experiences of self
Her argument for sexual equality takes two directions:
1. Exposes the ways that patriarchal ideology exploits sexual difference to create
systems of inequality
2. Identifies the ways that arguments for equality erase the sexual difference in order
to establish the masculine subject as the absolute human type
Key idea→ social ideas of femininity
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“It is through sexual activity that men define the sexes and their relations just as
they create the meaning and value of all the functions they accomplish: but sexual
activity is not necessarily implied in the human being’s nature”
She takes on Plato’s idea that women must act and live like men in order to be part
of the privileged class (sexual differences must exist but should not be used to
justify the differences between the male subject and female object)
Immanence & Transcendence
Immanence is the historic domain assigned to women by patriarchal institutions
Transcendence is the ability to move beyond social restrictions into the external
Beauvoir: “Women are forced to relinquish their existential right to transcendence
and accept a circumscribed and repetitive imprisonment”
Immanence closed off round where women are inferior, passive, static and
immersed in themselves and not fully interacting with the world around them
Eternal Feminine
- is a psychological archetype or philosophical principle that idealizes an immutable
concept of "woman
- It is one component of gender essentialism, the belief that men and women have
different core "essences" that cannot be altered by time or environment
- The conceptual ideal was particularly vivid in the 19th century, when women were
often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual
path.[2] Among those virtues variously regarded as essentially feminine are "modesty,
gracefulness, purity, delicacy, civility, compliancy, reticence, chastity, affability, and
- Simone de Beauvoir regarded the "eternal feminine" as a patriarchal myth that
constructs women as a passive "erotic, birthing or nurturing body" excluded from playing
the role of a subject who experiences and acts
Subject / Other
An example of a myth of femininity
For every subject there is an object, and throughout history it often goes: subject =
man ; object = woman
“By accepting the role of Object and taking on the part of OTHER woman denies a
great part of her humanity and surrenders all claims to freedom”
Cover the Athlete Campaign
Campaign puts together reaction shots from male athletes with questions that
female athletes have actually been asked by interviewers
Why is it okay to ask female athletes questions about their outfits and whom they
want to date, but male athletes are shocked by the same questions?
Gender stereotypes seem to be just as dominant today and something that often
gets overlooked because we are indoctrinated (looking at things without
questioning them)
Cynthia Eller
Cynthia Eller Reading: “The representation of Goddesses and Women in Feminist
- Divine Objectification
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o Spiritual feminists use art and figures to help them and others envision goddess
worshiping times, and to reflect on how it feels to recognize female power as sacred
o Single most popular image- Venus of Willendorf
o Believes that if spiritual feminists really want harmonious relationships with human
beings they should concentrate on imaging men in ways that emphasize male
embodiedness and connection to the natural world
o Start looking at men true reversal of the gaze
- The myth of matriarchal prehistory: why an invented past will not give women a
- Deconstructs theory of prehistoric matriarchy
Venus of Willendorf 25,000 bce
o By giving her the name of Venus we assign the characteristics of Venus on the statue
even though we know nothing about why it was made or what it was meant to represent
o Assigns meaning through a constructed lens from 1908 and bringing it to the stone age
when it was made
- Anthropology, neuroscience and the making of images
o Exaggeration is a neurological response to the physical environment and conditions of
life- This is known as the peak shift
o The harshness of the environment led to the isolation of desired characteristics. In
Paleolithic terms the anatomy that mattered had to do with reproduction
o Argument: The first type of gender identity is biological
Praxiteles’ Venus or Aphrodite of Knidos
the sculpture created Aphrodite
this is the birth of idealism
bodies are not realistic but idealistic in that they have perfect proportion (women
are slender, graceful, elegant)
Pudica Posture
pudica means either “external genitalia or shame or both simultaneously”
pudica posture draws the viewer’s eyes towards the genitalia
the posture is:
often unclothed, pulling cloth over genitals and breasts
stands on left leg with right slightly inclined
head tilted as if lost in thoughts
Hesiod outlines the end of the golden age of men and all male society
the ending was brought by Prometheus when he stole fire and brought it to the
mortal men and Zeus punished them by creating women
Pandora was created as the first woman and given a jar (often called a box) that
will release evil upon all men
the opening of this jar marks the silver age, in which man is now subject to death
and woman childbirth is now introduced
idea of women as punishment, was opening the jar a malicious act?
Idea of woman as seductress
she is a witch or sorceress that is surrounded by wild animals that are tame in her
o When men land on her island they are attracted by her singing, desire for her allows her
to exploits men’s weakness
o Tricks them and makes them into swine
o Odysseus is seduced and stays for a year -idea of women making you forget who you
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