Women and Gender Studies Midterm 2

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Women & Gender Studies
Charles Davidson

Performing Gender: TA lecture 11/27/2012 8:49:00 PM Gender vs. Sex  Sex o Biological differences o Hormones, chromosomes, reproductive organs o Male and female o Essence  Gender o Sociological term; behaviours attitudes, emotions and feelings o Masculinity and femininity o Constructed  Gender roles o Characteristics and behaviours that are deemed culturally appropriate to one’s “gender” o Boys and girls o Men and women Judith Butler  “Gender Trouble” “Gender Trouble”  Explores how gendered identity is socially produced through repetitions of everyday ordinary tasks  It is created through the imitation of acts, gestures and enactments  Gender does not have an “essence”, or an objective ideal to which it aspires o Rather constituted through time  Gender is a performance with clearly punitive consequences Paris is Burning  Filmed mid 1980’s and released 1990  Directed by Jennie Livingston  Captures the ball cultures in New York City, and the African American, Latino, gay, transgender communities that take part in it  Won many awards including; 1991 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and an Audience Award from the Toronto International Film Festival  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWuzfIeTFAQ So What?  Butler hopes that by drawing attention to the dichotomy or binary that gender as “male” or “female” produces that it can open the door for other possibilities  Being conscious and aware of ourselves as performances it can be used as a form of resistance Masculinity 11/27/2012 8:49:00 PM Why Study Masculinity in a Women’s Studies Course?  Masculinity and femininity are dichotomous o Characteristics that resemble masculinity (opposite for women)  Men are strong - women are weak  Women are care givers - men are providers  Women are life givers - men are bringers of death  Women are private - mean are public  Masculinity is constructed through a learning process, as is femininity o When women prove that they can take on a males role, it becomes valueless: become masculinized o Men take on a women’s role - becomes feminized  Does nothing to femininity as a whole - diminishes his masculinity The Physicality of Masculinity: Biology  What is constant? - Y chromosome  What about relative size?  What about the genitalia? o Men defined by their penis, women by their lack of penis What is Masculinity  Performance of a gender role  Meaningless without femininity  Mass media plays a central role in setting/maintaining popular ideals of masculinity o Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes o Look like, make the same money as o Comes from experience, fantasy, power, fracture (class, race, sexuality, sexual orientation)  What are the socially significant qualities and characteristics of masculinity? o Most men are - Big, strong, heroic, confident, powerful, well off, aggressive, loud (being heard) o Homosexual or being “womanly” is a putdown o Most men should be - ideal image, most people don’t end up looking like this What is Ideal Masculinity  Hegemonic masculinity is widely associated with control and even violence/aggression  Boys learn early on that there is a price to be paid for not being “a real man”  In our society, there is a certain way that men are supposed to be o Strong o Bread winner o In control/unemotional o Appealing to the opposite sex o Athletic / watch sports o Aggressive o Tall, dark, handsome o Big/muscular o Straight o Intelligent/educated/successful  Not ideal o Femininity Is Masculinity Always the Same  Masculinities evolve as cultures evolve o Think of historical figures who embodied ideal masculinity as opposed to contemporary figures o Even the body (and accessories) of GI Joe has changed over time  “Crises” in masculinity cause these types of change o Changes in women’s roles and femininity o Changes in the meaning of class o Changes or “failures” in hegemonic masculinity  Crisis tendencies allow the potential for positive change for both masculinity and femininity Alternate Masculinities  Class alternate masculinities o Wealthy class; real men make the most money o Suits, ties, not worried about being huge o Proved through money and education and material possessions  Racialized alternate masculinities o Within different races, have different ideal masculinity  Feminist alternate masculinities o What a feminist would look for in a male partner o Does male and female work, communicate, breaking down gender roles o Looks little like hegemonic masculinity  Gay alternate masculinities o Struggling to achieve a slim and slender body type o Eating disorders o Likes to wear fitted clothing o Good fashion sense o Well groomed o Emotional, dramatic Violence 11/27/2012 8:49:00 PM Violence  Affects both men and women o There are differences how men and women experience and are socialized around violence  Example: o Most women who are murdered are killed by someone with whom they have had a romantic relationship  Men and women both experience intimate partner violence o Far fewer men have this experience o Degree of the violence is usually far less sever  Women tend to experience the vast majority of sexualized and intimate violence  We live in a culture in which men are socialized towards a more violence understanding of themselves, their social status and their masculinity Men and Socialization Towards Violence  Sexual proprietariness: o The idea men have tended to and been permitted to think of women as their sexual and reproductive property  Sexual ownership of women/wives/intimate female partners is so widespread that Western law has tolerance of men who murder their cheating wives  Other forms of this proprietary attitude, towards women can include practices such as foot binding, confinement to women’s quarters, infibulation, chastity belts, the rule of thumb etc.  Poverty has often been cited as a reason for a man to become violent towards his wife o Statistics do demonstrate that many men convicted of domestic violence are poor Violence Against Women  Includes a wide array of forms, including physical, sexual, emotional/mental/psychological, financial/economic and spiritual/religious o Many of these forms of violence occur simultaneously  Most women, at some point in their lives will be in fear of strangers and vulnerability public spaces o Most violence against women occurs in the home or at the hands of someone they know o Statistics show that the family is one of the most dangerous social institutions for girls and women Violence and The Female Life Cycle  Pre birth o Sex selective fertility practices o Abortion of female fetuses  Birth o Active and passive infanticide o Abandonment o Girl children, especially in countries with dowry practices (or under China’s one child policy) can create undue financial strain on a family and are often smothered, drowned, and abandoned by parents or with the help of the midwife  Childhood o The non accidental harm inflicted by a caregiver according to Canadian law o Sexual abuse of children  Ranges from voyeurism/exhibitionism, to a wide range of touching and masturbatory practices, to oral genital contact to sexual intercourse o Statistics - while both boys and girls are victims of sexual abuse, girls are the majority of the victims (approximately 80%) o Rates are not significantly different when ethnicity is factored in o The abusers are men (90-99%): largely fathers (especially step fathers) 45%, the male family members 12% and brothers 9%  Dating o Majority of abusive dating relationships are heterosexual, although homosexual relationships are also occasionally violent o Compulsive heterosexuality  A range of sexualized behaviours/conversation which boys (and men)use with girls (and women)  Ensures the constant public reinforcement of heterosexuality and hegemonic masculinity  These behaviours often turn on the threat of violence, implied threats of violence, mock violence and even real forms of violence  When boys and men adopt these attitudes and actions, and girls and women tolerate them, it reinforces the existing gender status quo, and perpetuates dating violence  Girls and girls’ bodies are understood to be goals for proving heterosexual masculinity through wearing down their physical and emotional defenses against boys sexual behaviours in a wide variety of ways  Getting sexualized attention form girls, getting kisses, getting to “first base”, sexual harassment, loss of virginity etc.  In short the masculine ideal is reinforced through public declarations and displays of “getting girls”  Gender pattern is tolerated because of cultural norms which accept male aggression and simultaneously discourages boys from learning other outlets (communication) for emotions  Adult Relationships o Sexual assault, coercion, aggression, rape  Sexual behaviour and activities that are engaged in against the will of one of the participants, up to and including oral, anal and vaginal penetration with the penis or foreign objects  Can be forced or coerced through violence, threats, drugs and alcohol, verbal and psychological pressure and abuse  Amnesty International also includes forced genital exams, child marriages and FGM (Female genital mutilation)  Most sexual assaults and rapes are performed by someone the victim knows  Rape is the crime that is the least likely to be reported and the least likely, if reported, to result in a conviction  What is being done? o Since the 1970’s/the 2 nd wave, legal definitions, procedures, and precedents have been established, and programs focused on women o Ranging from self defense, support networks, prevention training etc. o These types of programs may help individual women but do little to address the perpetrators themselves who will most often simply find another victim  Some programs have developed rape prevention programs among men o The largest such male run/male orientated worldwide program is the WHITE RIBBON Campaign, which originated in Canada  Marriage o Spousal abuse, which is a term feminist object to as the vast majority of spousal abuse is actually wife abuse  Husband battering does occur, though it is rare, not usually long term, and doesn’t often result in injuries  Battering/abuse is generally understood to be repetitive and continuous  Victims are women o 50% are legally married o Just over 50%(56%) between 21 and 34 years old o 75% with at least one child  The perpetrators are overwhelmingly men o While a personal history of violence in the family, and poverty/unemployment are often cited as factors, o Most men who are unemployed or who have experienced childhood domestic abuse themselves DO NOT abuse Children’s Culture: Learning Gender Roles 11/27/2012 8:49:00 PM Gender Roles  Behavioural traits that are deemed appropriate to masculinity and femininity  Nature - prenatal hormones modify brain, and as a result, male or female genitalia result  Nurture - immediately following birth, society begins to install gendered expectations, based on the possession of male or female genitalia  Girls o Gender Appropriate Behaviours  Expressive characteristics (nurturing, concern with feelings)  Enabling interaction styles: agreeing, acknowledging other’s comments  Conversation and play focuses on: self disclosure, discussion negotiation  Gender Differences in Behaviours o Acquire earlier language skills, walk earlier, attain puberty earlier, have superior verbal and written abilities, are more nurturing to younger children  Boys o Gender Appropriate Behaviours  Instrumental characteristics: task and occupation orientation  Restricting interaction styles: contradicting, interrupting, self display  Conversation and play focuses on: power assertion, dominance competition  Gender Differences in Behaviours o Acquire greater spatial and math abilities, have greater muscular development, better gross motor skills, more physical aggression and more likely to obey adults and are more likely to have genetic defects, as well as physical, emotional and learning disabilities Source of Gender Role Reinforcement  Parents (and other significant adult role models) o The first agency of socialization a child is likely to come in contact with o Family is comprised of primary (highly personal and intimate) bonds o From infancy, adults hold gender stereotyped perceptions and expectations of boys and girls  Adult interaction is a significant influence on apparently biological behaviours o Non verbal interaction (under 2) has a significant influence on the child’s developing sense of self  Parents tend to engage in more physical activities with boy children, and more verbalization with girls o Gender assignment is fundamental to adult interaction with children  Adults influence gender role formation through - naming, colour coding, decorating rooms, choosing toys and clothing o Despite claims of efforts to be gender neutral, studies show that parents behave in gender differentiated ways towards boys and girls as they age  Teachers model gendered behaviours and encourage gender appropriate expectations in their young students  Peer group teaches children to negotiate relationships and to identify with gendered behaviour patterns Clothing Styles  Visibly coded infant clothing is an important way for adults to identify the gender of the child and thus offer gender appropriate comments  Serves to restrict girl’s play and influences gender role development o Colour coded receiving blankets o Gendered diapers o Gender coding of non gendered clothes like t shirts and jeans o Colour and gender coded infant clothing  Gender appropriate types of clothing and shoes o Rugged cargos and shoes for boys, pockets to explore the world with two hands while saving treasures o Frail dresses, tight, and shoes for girls, purses and accessories that require attention to clothing, limiting ability to explore freely o Dresses and skirts come with restrictive physicality and social expectations  Girls learn early to monitor their behaviour depending on what they’re wearing o Girls clothing also requires greater management than boys clothing, so girls learn to spend more time grooming Toys  Boys toys encourage aggressive, competitive and boisterous play, are more portable, durable, conductive to outdoor settings  Boys who prefer indoor, constrained play are prone to being labeled sissies  Hot potato effect o Opposite sexed toys are rapidly abandoned  Girls toys encourage sedate play, nurturing and beauty, and are anchored by structure, fragility, or cost to indoor space, and model adult domestic and body image behaviour  Girls who prefer outdoor, explorative play are prone to being labeled tomboys  Boys tend to allow them to experiment with many life aspirations, not necessarily tied to the reality of their future lives, while girls toys tend to teach them life skills tied to their anticipated future lives  Girls toys also teach consuming/shopping, beauty, domestic and childrearing habits for the future o Many girls toys are even branded to encourage them to identify with a brand name in the future  Boys do have dolls, but they come with scripted heroic activities and limited accessories to purchase  Toys, especially boys toys, have increasingly become gendered in the past few years, under the influence of baby boomers who seem to prefer gendered toys  Even unisex toys have stylistic and contextual details that indicate who the anticipated user is (colour, durability, location in the toy store, bikes with baskets, names, etc.) Body Image Being a Girl, Being a Women: Cultural expectations of feminine beauty (weight)  An examination of the construction and shifting representation of the ideal female body (focused on issues of weight and body size) image in popular culture  Questions to be considered include: o What is the ideal body image? o How has this ideal become both global and specific? o To what extent is the prevailing image a realistic one? o To what extent have women embraced and resisted this ideal? Social Consequences Attached to Body Image  To our contemporary world, there is a cultural obsession with beauty, weight and appearance; especially with youth and thinness  Physical appearance is presented as being of the utmost importance to women, most especially  There are strong social consequences attached to our physical appearances o Because we live with a “what is beautiful is good” stereotype, physically attractive people can develop greater self confidence, better interaction skills, and are more likely to have their self perception validated with social rewards like relationships, friendships and jobs Sexuality and Body Image  Many girls learn by the time they reach adolescent how much their physical appearance differ form the male culturally “normative” body, and may also differ from the culturally ideal female form  Thus body dissatisfaction increases dramatically between 9-16, especially for girls whose bodies are changing away from cultural ideals while boys bodies are developing towards the cultural ideal mature masculine body  Both men and women misjudge the body type the other sex finds attractive Media and Body Image  Magazines attempt to democratize beauty by telling girls and women that the beauty ideals are accessible to all with the right products and habits  The average fashion model is white, 5’9, and weights approx. 110 lbs., making her 32 lbs. lighter and 5’ talker than the average American women Fat and Body Image  There are two central aspects to constructions of the ideal body image: biology and sociology  Biology o Natural selection dictates that the female of most species needs to retain more body fat than the male o Female hormones, which influence weight gain and water
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