Historically, what has been the relationship between feminism and anthropology?
o Anthropology when it began, was primarily in the hands of men. Male anthropologist
would perform ethnographies in their contexts of choosing, primarily gathering their
data from the men present in their context of choosing. The very same data was then
interpreted by the male anthropologists. As is obvious from this, early anthropology was
particularly male dominated and presented the male gaze as the defining aspect of a
o Feminism made its entry into anthropology later. It primarily began with the wives of
anthropologists speaking to the ignored women in ethnographic contexts, thereafter
essentially starting an anthropology of women that focused on the plight of women.
This however had inherent problems in that it universalized women
o This led to a shift in anthropology and the advent of feminist anthropology, which
focuses on genders and sexualities.
Why was there a shift from an anthropology of women, to feminist anthropology, to the study
of genders and sexualities? What lessons have theorists of genders and sexualities learned
from these theoretical shifts (give examples from various readingssuch as Blackwood, Ellis, to
name a couple)
o Multiplicities of genders and sexualities
o Different sex/gender systems
What is the sex/gender system proposed by Gayle Rubin? How might Rubins work be
compared Judith Butlers?
Why is it important to think of genders and sexualities in the plural? Especially for
Sex is biological; gender is the social meaning we attach to the sexed body. Would Judith Lorber
agree or disagree? Why?
o Judith Lorber would agree to the aforementioned statement. This is because Lorber is of
the belief that we are conditioned to see a particular gender in relation to the sex of the
body in question. Thus when we see a woman, we automatically assume she must
exhibit feminine characteristics as they are defined by the social context in question.
She would agree that in North America, sex (or biology) is given a particular meaning,
thus she uses the phrase Believing is Seeing as we automatically only see what we have
been conditioned to seeing in respects to a particular sexed body. This is in line with
discourse in anthropology that the body is a canvas upon which we bestow social
meaning, and also the site upon which we create difference. Physical differences
between male and female bodies exist, but these differences are socially meaningless
until social practices transform them into social facts.
What challenges does Lorbers characterization of biology as ideology pose for feminism?
o If biology is ideology, it poses the challenge that feminism is unnecessary and pointless,
particularly referring to the plight of women in society. The differences in biology
between men and women never change, therefore, since sexed bodies never change, there will always be differential attitudes and meanings applied to each. The attitudes
and meanings applied to each may not necessarily be in place for the purpose of
suppression and oppression, but just as a way to identify the roles that are expected of
each in society
o In addition to this, feminism is built upon the acknowledgment of differences as a result
of differentiated bodies. Feminism therefore applies its own meanings to these bodies,
and may not appropriately and correctly define the bodies in question. Take for example
how western feminism conceptualizes women who wear the hijab as oppressed, when
this is hardly the case in their perspective
o Feminism likewise universalizes women, neglecting the differences between them
How does the existence of travesties challenge conventional North American constructions of
o The existence of transvestites in Brazil challenges North American constructions of
sexuality in that the performances of gender differ from those in North America and
have different connotations. In Brazil, the performance of gender does not necessarily
denote ones sexuality like it does in North America, but the role one plays in a sexual
encounter (i.e. penetrated or penetrator) is what leads to a particular sexed body. In
North America, performances of masculinity or femininity are equated to ones
sexuality, but in Brazil, performances of masculinity and femininity are drawn upon and
many a times both utilized by one individual with no connotations on their sexuality.
Their sexual role instead seems to be the defining factor of gender, which is opposite to
North America where the performance of gender defines sexuality. This explains why
the one doing the penetrating and the one penetrated is important in Brazilian
configurations of gender.
According to Butler, performativity is the reiterative and citational practice by which discourse
produces the effects that it names. Butler primarily focuses on gender performativity and how
this practice eventually leads to the materialization of a particular kind of body through the
reiteration of norms in such performances
o By reiteration, Butler is referring to the reaffirming of norms through the practice of
regulatory ideals that govern what is normative or not
The reiteration of norms refers to the expression of highly regulated practices
through which the regulatory ideal of sex is enforced and perpetuated.
o By materialization, butler is referring to the construction of a particular kind of body
through the reiteration of norms and gender performativity
The connection between sex and gender for Butler is that gender performativity leads to the
materialization of a particular sexed body. According to Butler, sex is not static and something
that is set in stone at birth, but is instead determined through the practice of norms that leads
to the materialization of a particular sexed body. This particular sexed body, however, mustconform to regulatory ideals in order to be considered viable by wider society, which eliminates
the possibility of just been and doing what you want and feel.
We all end up performing similar roles because there are regulatory ideals that govern the
performance of gender. The performance of gender has to be situated in a particular context to
make sense, which is evident in Gutos performance through the obvious difference in
understanding the author and Gutos family had of his performance. The author was lost and
confused because he was not familiar with the particular context in which he was in, thus the
performance was not fully understood and even misinterpreted. We thus all end up performing
similar roles because of the context which we share, with regulatory ideals being specific to
context. This is why it is okay in other countries for men to hold hands, but if done here, men
holding hands are particularly labelled gay.
Because heteronormativity has been the historical norm, it is perpetuated through its repeated
practice, with anything deviating from it classified as deviant. Heteronormativity is therefore the
regulatory discourse that determines what is appropriate or inappropriate.Heteronormativity is
produced through the appropriate performance of gender within a particular culture.
Heteronormativity is produced through the reiteration of dominant norms and ideals concerning
the characteristics and mannerisms of a particular body, with heteronormativity effectively
making one a viable member of society. Heteronormativity is also constructed through
difference, with what is viable and inviable constructed in relation to one another.
Guto, being male, startled Lancaster by his play-acting