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Maggie Cummings

General Questions 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 culture. 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 anthropologists? Week 2 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 sexuality? 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. Week 3 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
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