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Engendering the social

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Much of our understanding of the social is based on the ability to make sense of the interaction between the self and society by categorising individuals as belonging to distinct groups. No …

Much of our understanding of the social is based on the ability to make sense of the interaction between the self and society by categorising individuals as belonging to distinct groups. No classification is as powerful as that of gender. It is the central organising principle that is used for interpreting the apparent differences between how 'men' and 'women' approach the social, political, economic world, etc. 'Third-wave' or so-called postmodernist feminist theorists have been at the forefront of the challenge to the equation of anatomical sex with gender as a social definition. Work on transgender identities, but also masculinities (in the plural) have enabled new means of theorising the gendered subject. This work has deep implications for the distinctions between the 'male' and 'female' worlds made by second-wave theorists focused on challenging the hegemony of 'patriarchy' as it disrupts the neat categorsations implied by feminist standpoint theorists and others. Is the postmodern perspective compatible with the ongoing struggle for 'women's rights' that cannot as yet be thought of as won? What do theoretical and real-life challenges to essentialist views of gender add to the feminist critique of the public-private divide that dominates much of 'malestream' social theory?

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  • - Gender studies emerges out of women’s studies which in turn emerges out of the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s.\n- The turn away from women’s studies and towards the study of gender has not been unproblematic.\n\n[Click to reveal Evans’ quote]\n\nFeminist scholars such as Mary Evans in her 1990 article, ‘The problem of gender for women’s studies’, objected to the replacement of women’s studies with gender studies on the basis that it runs the risk of concealing the inequalities still faced by women. Recognising that feminists have ‘a sophisticated understanding of what constitutes gender identity and gender subjectivity’, and presumably believing that presenting a nuanced understanding of gender is important, Evans nevertheless contends that “women still contribute as much a subject for study as they ever did, and that the identity of women is not the matter of negotiation and personal choice that some enthusiasts of deconstruction insist.”\n\nShe feared that failing to put women’s concerns front and centre qua women ran the risk of depoliticizing a field of study borne of the feminist struggle.\n
  • While Evans and others were opposed to the postmodernist turn among feminist academics which led to the rise of gender studies and the demise of women’s studies, others such as Hekman (cited in Ahmed 1998) point out that postmodernism is not inconsistent with feminism.\n\nHekman (1990) argues that “feminism and postmodernism challenge the ‘anthropocentric’ definition of knowledge” (Ahmed 1998: 13). Therefore, “feminism ‘has much to gain’ by an alliance with postmodernism against modernism given the centrality within feminism of (gendered) dichotomies” (ibid.). \nAccording to Ahmed, Hekman makes the case that postmodernism is well equipped to take issue with the ‘epistemological’ issue of women’s nature against which the women’s movement fought as constraining of women’s life chances.\n\nHowever, Ahmed criticises Hekman for failing to take into account the fact that feminist epistemologies have already critiqued modernity, especially the issue of women’s nature and the notion of the Cartesian subject based on a dichotomy of mind(reason)/body. \n\nFor Ahmed, unlike Evans, there is no contradiction in being feminist and postmodernist because, unlike Hekman, Ahmed does not assume that ‘neutral’ postmodernism requires gender to be added to it. On the contrary, gender theory brings with it the understanding that everything is gendered. \n\nShe notes that feminism is both inherently modern because it is a politics “committed to emancipation, agency and rights” (p. 23). But, as a theory, it can also be described as postmodern because it emphasises the “culturally over-determined constitution of the gendered subject” (ibid.).\n\n[Click to reveal quote 1]: So, “speaking of the difference of feminism, as a difference that matters, undoes the critical trajectory whereby feminism either mirrors or distorts the face of postmodernism itself” (Ahmed 1998: 15). \n\nAhmed stresses that gender as a form of power has to be constantly situated in relation to other forms of power (e.g. race). this necessarily establishes it as political.\n\n[Click to reveal quote]: Similarly, Alsop et al. (2002) take issue with Evans’s position, saying that a focus on gender (rather than women) is not necessarily unradical. They argue for a commitment to the analysis of gender because although “contemporarily relations between men and women are structured in a manner which tends to subordinate and oppress women... current norms of gender marginalize many men and... cultural constructions of gender exclude and alienate those who do not fit neatly into the categories male/female” (Alsop et al 2002: 5).\n\nIn that an aim of gender analyses is to challenge this status quo, gender theory is arguably consistent and continuous with the objectives of the feminist struggle as a struggle, not only to bring about women’s rights, but to overturn oppressive gender norms for society as a whole. \n\n\n
  • While Evans and others were opposed to the postmodernist turn among feminist academics which led to the rise of gender studies and the demise of women’s studies, others such as Hekman (cited in Ahmed 1998) point out that postmodernism is not inconsistent with feminism.\n\nHekman (1990) argues that “feminism and postmodernism challenge the ‘anthropocentric’ definition of knowledge” (Ahmed 1998: 13). Therefore, “feminism ‘has much to gain’ by an alliance with postmodernism against modernism given the centrality within feminism of (gendered) dichotomies” (ibid.). \nAccording to Ahmed, Hekman makes the case that postmodernism is well equipped to take issue with the ‘epistemological’ issue of women’s nature against which the women’s movement fought as constraining of women’s life chances.\n\nHowever, Ahmed criticises Hekman for failing to take into account the fact that feminist epistemologies have already critiqued modernity, especially the issue of women’s nature and the notion of the Cartesian subject based on a dichotomy of mind(reason)/body. \n\nFor Ahmed, unlike Evans, there is no contradiction in being feminist and postmodernist because, unlike Hekman, Ahmed does not assume that ‘neutral’ postmodernism requires gender to be added to it. On the contrary, gender theory brings with it the understanding that everything is gendered. \n\nShe notes that feminism is both inherently modern because it is a politics “committed to emancipation, agency and rights” (p. 23). But, as a theory, it can also be described as postmodern because it emphasises the “culturally over-determined constitution of the gendered subject” (ibid.).\n\n[Click to reveal quote 1]: So, “speaking of the difference of feminism, as a difference that matters, undoes the critical trajectory whereby feminism either mirrors or distorts the face of postmodernism itself” (Ahmed 1998: 15). \n\nAhmed stresses that gender as a form of power has to be constantly situated in relation to other forms of power (e.g. race). this necessarily establishes it as political.\n\n[Click to reveal quote]: Similarly, Alsop et al. (2002) take issue with Evans’s position, saying that a focus on gender (rather than women) is not necessarily unradical. They argue for a commitment to the analysis of gender because although “contemporarily relations between men and women are structured in a manner which tends to subordinate and oppress women... current norms of gender marginalize many men and... cultural constructions of gender exclude and alienate those who do not fit neatly into the categories male/female” (Alsop et al 2002: 5).\n\nIn that an aim of gender analyses is to challenge this status quo, gender theory is arguably consistent and continuous with the objectives of the feminist struggle as a struggle, not only to bring about women’s rights, but to overturn oppressive gender norms for society as a whole. \n\n\n
  • The basic precept along which gender theory proceeds (informed by feminist critique) is that gender is socially constructed.\n\nThe social constructivist approach to gender contends that Gender is a fluid construct. It is not determined by our biology, but is a product of our environment, our performance, our choices, and our society. Our society sets up gender as a dichotomy: masculine and feminine. Masculinity includes traits like brave, noisy, and strong. Femininity includes being timid, quiet, fragile, and nurturing. Nothing is genetically inherent in men to make them masculine, or in women to make them feminine. Global variations in behaviour and expectations show that gender is a cultural construct.\n\nAnne Oakley was one of the first feminist theorists to distinguish between sex and gender. In her 1985 book, ‘Sex, Gender and Society’, Oakley argues that “gender was distinct from sex, that gender referred to the social characteristics, masculinity and femininity, and were variable, whereas sex related to biological sex and were more fixed” (Alsop et al 2002: 66). \n\n“The constancy of sex must be admitted, but so too must the variability of gender” (Oakley 1985: 16) - this was central to early ideas about the social construction of gender. However, Oakley’s definition of biological sex as fixed is called into question by transgender and intersex people whose experience further developed social constructivist theorizations in the decades that followed but which are still often omitted from discussions of gender and feminism.\n\nAccording to Alsop et al. the problem with much early social constructionist approaches, such as Oakley’s, is that they fall into the trap of essentialism by failing to take into account that biological sex is, as much as gender is, socially mediated. \n\n
  • The materialist approach to the social construction of gender at the forefront of feminist theorizing in the 1970s and 80s was largely guilty of essentialising biological sex as a given.\n\nMaterialist feminists focused on explicating how gender is shaped by the social structure.\n\nAmong them, some opted for using an explicitly Marxist approach for making sense of gender relations while others focused on the concept of patriarchy which did not place primary importance on economics.\n\nBarrett (1980) has criticised Marxist analyses for failing to be able to explain the exploitation of women in non-, pre- or post-capitalist societies. In other words, although women are certainly exploited economically this is not the only source of their exploitation. \n\n\n
  • Patriarchy was deemed conceptually useful as a means for explaining this and dominated feminist theorizing from the 1970s with the publication of Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970). \n\nPatriarchy took on different meanings for different branches of materialist feminism.\n\nRadical feminists looked at men’s control over women’s bodies, particularly in the realms of fertility and sexuality and in terms of violence against women.\n\nMen and women are seen as fundamentally opposed, with men exploiting women for their own purposes.\n\nMarxist and socialist feminists differ among themselves in defining patriarchy, although all see it as crucial in ensuring women’s domination by men in societies stratified along gender lines.\n\nSocialist feminists have looked at capitalism and patriarchy as working in conjunction to fix the position of individual men and women. Dual systems theory focuses on the intersection between these two structures with capitalism on its own being unable to fully encapsulate the reasons for gendered inequality.\n\nChristine Delphy’s 1977 essay ‘The Main Enemy’ proposed that there is a second mode of production, alongside the industrial one: the domestic mode. Just as the industrial mode of production is the site for capitalist exploitation, the domestic site produces patriarchal exploitation. For Delphy, women should be seen as a class because as wives, mothers and domestic workers their unpaid labour is similarly exploited\n\nDelphy was taken to task by other Marxist feminists who felt she was not engaging with the links between capitalism and patriarchy fully enough. For Marxists such as Michele Barrett, patriarchy was an ideological structure which linked to other structures, in particular the capitalist organisation of society. \nIn contrast, for others who agreed with Delphy, patriarchy generated its own sets of social relations independent of capitalism. For example, heterosexuality was itself construed as an oppressive structure in which women’s inequality vis-a-vis their male partners was perpetuated.\n\nThe concept of patriarchy was critiqued by those who claimed that it implies that it is a fixed structure and that, as a theory, it does not propose any means of overcoming women’s exploited position.\nWhile some therefore chose to reject the concept, Sylvia Walby chose to retain it in her 1989 book, Theorising Patriarchy. She identifies multiple causes of patriarchy, developing sex key structures determining patriarchal relations including paid work, housework, sexuality, culture, violence and the state. \n\nWalby explains that the different ways in which each of these 6 structures are articulated produces different forms of patriarchy. This allows her to explain the way in which gender inequality differs over time and may take different forms across a variety of social and cultural contexts.\n\nSo, it could be argued that while some women do not experience violence directly, they may experience patriarchal domination in other spheres such as in the workplace where they may be paid less or be unable to acceded to the same status as men. \n\nSimilarly, although there is a belief that women in the West are more sexually equal to men with the rise of post-feminist ‘ladette’ culture, this obscures the ways in which both women and men are regulated by norms created in the interests of capital which in turn upholds patriarchal values which often reproduce heteronormative and androcentric norms.\n
  • Patriarchy was deemed conceptually useful as a means for explaining this and dominated feminist theorizing from the 1970s with the publication of Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970). \n\nPatriarchy took on different meanings for different branches of materialist feminism.\n\nRadical feminists looked at men’s control over women’s bodies, particularly in the realms of fertility and sexuality and in terms of violence against women.\n\nMen and women are seen as fundamentally opposed, with men exploiting women for their own purposes.\n\nMarxist and socialist feminists differ among themselves in defining patriarchy, although all see it as crucial in ensuring women’s domination by men in societies stratified along gender lines.\n\nSocialist feminists have looked at capitalism and patriarchy as working in conjunction to fix the position of individual men and women. Dual systems theory focuses on the intersection between these two structures with capitalism on its own being unable to fully encapsulate the reasons for gendered inequality.\n\nChristine Delphy’s 1977 essay ‘The Main Enemy’ proposed that there is a second mode of production, alongside the industrial one: the domestic mode. Just as the industrial mode of production is the site for capitalist exploitation, the domestic site produces patriarchal exploitation. For Delphy, women should be seen as a class because as wives, mothers and domestic workers their unpaid labour is similarly exploited\n\nDelphy was taken to task by other Marxist feminists who felt she was not engaging with the links between capitalism and patriarchy fully enough. For Marxists such as Michele Barrett, patriarchy was an ideological structure which linked to other structures, in particular the capitalist organisation of society. \nIn contrast, for others who agreed with Delphy, patriarchy generated its own sets of social relations independent of capitalism. For example, heterosexuality was itself construed as an oppressive structure in which women’s inequality vis-a-vis their male partners was perpetuated.\n\nThe concept of patriarchy was critiqued by those who claimed that it implies that it is a fixed structure and that, as a theory, it does not propose any means of overcoming women’s exploited position.\nWhile some therefore chose to reject the concept, Sylvia Walby chose to retain it in her 1989 book, Theorising Patriarchy. She identifies multiple causes of patriarchy, developing sex key structures determining patriarchal relations including paid work, housework, sexuality, culture, violence and the state. \n\nWalby explains that the different ways in which each of these 6 structures are articulated produces different forms of patriarchy. This allows her to explain the way in which gender inequality differs over time and may take different forms across a variety of social and cultural contexts.\n\nSo, it could be argued that while some women do not experience violence directly, they may experience patriarchal domination in other spheres such as in the workplace where they may be paid less or be unable to acceded to the same status as men. \n\nSimilarly, although there is a belief that women in the West are more sexually equal to men with the rise of post-feminist ‘ladette’ culture, this obscures the ways in which both women and men are regulated by norms created in the interests of capital which in turn upholds patriarchal values which often reproduce heteronormative and androcentric norms.\n
  • Patriarchy was deemed conceptually useful as a means for explaining this and dominated feminist theorizing from the 1970s with the publication of Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970). \n\nPatriarchy took on different meanings for different branches of materialist feminism.\n\nRadical feminists looked at men’s control over women’s bodies, particularly in the realms of fertility and sexuality and in terms of violence against women.\n\nMen and women are seen as fundamentally opposed, with men exploiting women for their own purposes.\n\nMarxist and socialist feminists differ among themselves in defining patriarchy, although all see it as crucial in ensuring women’s domination by men in societies stratified along gender lines.\n\nSocialist feminists have looked at capitalism and patriarchy as working in conjunction to fix the position of individual men and women. Dual systems theory focuses on the intersection between these two structures with capitalism on its own being unable to fully encapsulate the reasons for gendered inequality.\n\nChristine Delphy’s 1977 essay ‘The Main Enemy’ proposed that there is a second mode of production, alongside the industrial one: the domestic mode. Just as the industrial mode of production is the site for capitalist exploitation, the domestic site produces patriarchal exploitation. For Delphy, women should be seen as a class because as wives, mothers and domestic workers their unpaid labour is similarly exploited\n\nDelphy was taken to task by other Marxist feminists who felt she was not engaging with the links between capitalism and patriarchy fully enough. For Marxists such as Michele Barrett, patriarchy was an ideological structure which linked to other structures, in particular the capitalist organisation of society. \nIn contrast, for others who agreed with Delphy, patriarchy generated its own sets of social relations independent of capitalism. For example, heterosexuality was itself construed as an oppressive structure in which women’s inequality vis-a-vis their male partners was perpetuated.\n\nThe concept of patriarchy was critiqued by those who claimed that it implies that it is a fixed structure and that, as a theory, it does not propose any means of overcoming women’s exploited position.\nWhile some therefore chose to reject the concept, Sylvia Walby chose to retain it in her 1989 book, Theorising Patriarchy. She identifies multiple causes of patriarchy, developing sex key structures determining patriarchal relations including paid work, housework, sexuality, culture, violence and the state. \n\nWalby explains that the different ways in which each of these 6 structures are articulated produces different forms of patriarchy. This allows her to explain the way in which gender inequality differs over time and may take different forms across a variety of social and cultural contexts.\n\nSo, it could be argued that while some women do not experience violence directly, they may experience patriarchal domination in other spheres such as in the workplace where they may be paid less or be unable to acceded to the same status as men. \n\nSimilarly, although there is a belief that women in the West are more sexually equal to men with the rise of post-feminist ‘ladette’ culture, this obscures the ways in which both women and men are regulated by norms created in the interests of capital which in turn upholds patriarchal values which often reproduce heteronormative and androcentric norms.\n
  • The debates among Marxist feminism and between them and other feminists about the relationships between capitalism and patriarchy were foundational in feminist theorizing. However, by the late 1970s and 1980s, they were being increasingly critiqued by black feminists, majority world feminists and lesbian feminists who felt that these debates did not adequately account for their experiences.\n\nThese activists and theorists, most significantly bell hooks, Audre Lorde and Chandra Mohanty amongst others, put forward the critique that the framing of debates about patriarchy by white western feminists failed to take note of the ways in which white women have benefited from imperialist and racist structures.\n\nIn noting the significance of white privilege in shaping relationships between women, black feminists demonstrated the difficulties of talking about a common sisterhood. The same critique is extended to the relationships between middle and upper class women and working class women. Much feminist theorizing that focused on the inequalities produced by capital was generated within the academy. However, the discrepancies between the class privileges of women academics and the working class women whose lives they theorized often went unnoticed.\n\nCritiques of this nature opened the way for important debates in feminist epistemology which stressed reflexivity and participative research in which the imbalanced power relations between the researcher and the researched were problematised and addressed through the choice of methodologies that opposed the artificiality of positivist research that stressed objectivity and the neutrality of the researcher. \n\nFeminist standpoint theorists such as Sandra Harding, in particular, took the view that there was a particular woman’s voice that could only come through by engaging with the researcher’s own position as a woman and exploring her relationship with other female subjects.\n\nHowever, the critique from black feminists in particular complexified standpoint theory by questioning the notion of universal womanhood. Difference and specificity of experience became key concepts in enriching and personalizing standpoint, questioning universalist assumptions for the reproduction of the very power imbalances they sought to overturn. In other words, it was insufficient to critique men’s domination over women and to see the world as divided between those who exerted patriarchy and benefited from it (men) and those who were oppressed by it (women). \n\nBeing aware of the privilege of white and upper class women and the ways in which they participated in the subjugation of black, poor and majority world women meant that it became necessary, as Chandra Mohanty pointed out, to question the term ‘“woman” as a basis for unity.’\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • Nevertheless, certain black feminists fell into the very essentialism they sought to critique. Heidi Safia Mirza for example critiques black feminism for operating with ‘essentialist definitions of blackness’ (1997). Focuses on the differences between different groups of women lend themselves to the reification of these very categories so that they become universalised in themselves thus failing to radically overturn the universalism of the category woman that spurred their critique.\n\nThe theory of intersectionality emerged in critical legal studies in the 1980s and was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a black feminist legal theorist who is often thought of as the instigator of Critical Race Theory. She wrote that identity politics often led to the differences that exist within groups being ignored, leading thus to tensions between groups and the break-down of solidarity between, for example, white and black feminists. Rather than be fixated on the ‘large’ differences that appear to divide us, we should be alive to the ways in which we are all composed of a variety of identities and exposed to various structures of oppression that may shape our experiences in different ways and at different times. \n\nIn particular, Crenshaw was interested in the ways in which patriarchy and race intersect in violence against women of colour. It is impossible to look at either factor in isolation. So too, just as women can never be reduced to the category ‘woman’, her life experiences can never be said to be shaped by her gender, her ethnic identity, her class, her age, whether she is able-bodies or not, and so on. Rather an individual’s life includes all of these facets, and so any theory that attempts to explain women’s condition should take account of these important intersections. Crenshaw explains how this works in practice by asking us to consider the analogy of a traffic accident [click to reveal quote]\n\nTheories of intersectionality have been influential because they appear to describe reality more adequately than what have been referred to as ‘add-on’ or ‘double or triple discrimination’ theories, those that look at the various forms of discrimination faced by women as occurring in separate realms. Such theories do not see race and class, or race, gender, class and sexuality for example as imbricated in each other. However, most theories of race would agree that it is impossible to explain racism historically without grounding it in an understanding of capitalism. \n\nAlthough intersectionality has enabled us to go beyond additive theories that see race, class, gender and so on as separate, it is not free of problems. In particular, recently scholars interested in interrelations between gender, sexuality and racialisation have critiqued the lack of attention to sexuality in most intersectional theorizing.\nAlthough intersectionality preaches about the mutuality between different oppressive structures, most often in reality, it falls back on an additive approach. Umut Erel and colleagues argue that in activism this has led to meetings between, for example, white lesbians and racialised men or white gay men and heterosexual migrant women. But this has led to the experiences of racialised gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people being left out.\nFurthermore, they argue that the important issue of class is usually left out altogether by those focused on the experiences of LGBT people. Even when disability or transgender issues are brought in, they usually relate only to the lives of relatively economically privileged (and I would add western) people.\n\nIn essence, the type of intersections focused on often serve the privileged within the hierarchies of those who are deemed oppressed. Most often, according to Erel et al., those who are left are those whose “issues and concerns are,” as Hwang (2004) says, “too subtle, too nuanced, too inconsequential to merit any attention.” These are most often people who are poor, racialised and transgendered.\nOn the one hand, these people are not included in the perspectives of black and ethnic minority communities. On the other, they are also omitted from gay and transgender activism and queer theory. As Erel and colleagues remark “Trans activism is notoriously white.” Furthermore, queer theory often mobilizes discourses of migration and dispossession. It talks about transgender people as ‘migrating’ between genders or being ‘exiled’ from their birth gender. This appropriates the real experiences of migrant people or other diasporic or exiled groups, such as Jews, people of colour, refugees, etc., especially those among them who may face racism as well as transphobia.\n\nErel et al. argue that intersectionality risks being reduced to a fashionable term in academia that actually does nothing to add to the potentially transformative epistemologies that emerged from the feminist critique.\nThe problem with intersectionality is that it focuses on relations between ‘sections’ and ‘categories’ but does not look at how hierarchies and uneven power relationships are produced.\nTo remedy this, Erel et al. argue that intersectionality has to be embedded within an antiracist, postcolonial critical context. In other words, the purpose of intersectionality is not merely to describe interlocking power relations but to transform them by analysing how they work.\n\n\n\n\n
  • Nevertheless, certain black feminists fell into the very essentialism they sought to critique. Heidi Safia Mirza for example critiques black feminism for operating with ‘essentialist definitions of blackness’ (1997). Focuses on the differences between different groups of women lend themselves to the reification of these very categories so that they become universalised in themselves thus failing to radically overturn the universalism of the category woman that spurred their critique.\n\nThe theory of intersectionality emerged in critical legal studies in the 1980s and was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a black feminist legal theorist who is often thought of as the instigator of Critical Race Theory. She wrote that identity politics often led to the differences that exist within groups being ignored, leading thus to tensions between groups and the break-down of solidarity between, for example, white and black feminists. Rather than be fixated on the ‘large’ differences that appear to divide us, we should be alive to the ways in which we are all composed of a variety of identities and exposed to various structures of oppression that may shape our experiences in different ways and at different times. \n\nIn particular, Crenshaw was interested in the ways in which patriarchy and race intersect in violence against women of colour. It is impossible to look at either factor in isolation. So too, just as women can never be reduced to the category ‘woman’, her life experiences can never be said to be shaped by her gender, her ethnic identity, her class, her age, whether she is able-bodies or not, and so on. Rather an individual’s life includes all of these facets, and so any theory that attempts to explain women’s condition should take account of these important intersections. Crenshaw explains how this works in practice by asking us to consider the analogy of a traffic accident [click to reveal quote]\n\nTheories of intersectionality have been influential because they appear to describe reality more adequately than what have been referred to as ‘add-on’ or ‘double or triple discrimination’ theories, those that look at the various forms of discrimination faced by women as occurring in separate realms. Such theories do not see race and class, or race, gender, class and sexuality for example as imbricated in each other. However, most theories of race would agree that it is impossible to explain racism historically without grounding it in an understanding of capitalism. \n\nAlthough intersectionality has enabled us to go beyond additive theories that see race, class, gender and so on as separate, it is not free of problems. In particular, recently scholars interested in interrelations between gender, sexuality and racialisation have critiqued the lack of attention to sexuality in most intersectional theorizing.\nAlthough intersectionality preaches about the mutuality between different oppressive structures, most often in reality, it falls back on an additive approach. Umut Erel and colleagues argue that in activism this has led to meetings between, for example, white lesbians and racialised men or white gay men and heterosexual migrant women. But this has led to the experiences of racialised gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people being left out.\nFurthermore, they argue that the important issue of class is usually left out altogether by those focused on the experiences of LGBT people. Even when disability or transgender issues are brought in, they usually relate only to the lives of relatively economically privileged (and I would add western) people.\n\nIn essence, the type of intersections focused on often serve the privileged within the hierarchies of those who are deemed oppressed. Most often, according to Erel et al., those who are left are those whose “issues and concerns are,” as Hwang (2004) says, “too subtle, too nuanced, too inconsequential to merit any attention.” These are most often people who are poor, racialised and transgendered.\nOn the one hand, these people are not included in the perspectives of black and ethnic minority communities. On the other, they are also omitted from gay and transgender activism and queer theory. As Erel and colleagues remark “Trans activism is notoriously white.” Furthermore, queer theory often mobilizes discourses of migration and dispossession. It talks about transgender people as ‘migrating’ between genders or being ‘exiled’ from their birth gender. This appropriates the real experiences of migrant people or other diasporic or exiled groups, such as Jews, people of colour, refugees, etc., especially those among them who may face racism as well as transphobia.\n\nErel et al. argue that intersectionality risks being reduced to a fashionable term in academia that actually does nothing to add to the potentially transformative epistemologies that emerged from the feminist critique.\nThe problem with intersectionality is that it focuses on relations between ‘sections’ and ‘categories’ but does not look at how hierarchies and uneven power relationships are produced.\nTo remedy this, Erel et al. argue that intersectionality has to be embedded within an antiracist, postcolonial critical context. In other words, the purpose of intersectionality is not merely to describe interlocking power relations but to transform them by analysing how they work.\n\n\n\n\n
  • Nevertheless, certain black feminists fell into the very essentialism they sought to critique. Heidi Safia Mirza for example critiques black feminism for operating with ‘essentialist definitions of blackness’ (1997). Focuses on the differences between different groups of women lend themselves to the reification of these very categories so that they become universalised in themselves thus failing to radically overturn the universalism of the category woman that spurred their critique.\n\nThe theory of intersectionality emerged in critical legal studies in the 1980s and was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a black feminist legal theorist who is often thought of as the instigator of Critical Race Theory. She wrote that identity politics often led to the differences that exist within groups being ignored, leading thus to tensions between groups and the break-down of solidarity between, for example, white and black feminists. Rather than be fixated on the ‘large’ differences that appear to divide us, we should be alive to the ways in which we are all composed of a variety of identities and exposed to various structures of oppression that may shape our experiences in different ways and at different times. \n\nIn particular, Crenshaw was interested in the ways in which patriarchy and race intersect in violence against women of colour. It is impossible to look at either factor in isolation. So too, just as women can never be reduced to the category ‘woman’, her life experiences can never be said to be shaped by her gender, her ethnic identity, her class, her age, whether she is able-bodies or not, and so on. Rather an individual’s life includes all of these facets, and so any theory that attempts to explain women’s condition should take account of these important intersections. Crenshaw explains how this works in practice by asking us to consider the analogy of a traffic accident [click to reveal quote]\n\nTheories of intersectionality have been influential because they appear to describe reality more adequately than what have been referred to as ‘add-on’ or ‘double or triple discrimination’ theories, those that look at the various forms of discrimination faced by women as occurring in separate realms. Such theories do not see race and class, or race, gender, class and sexuality for example as imbricated in each other. However, most theories of race would agree that it is impossible to explain racism historically without grounding it in an understanding of capitalism. \n\nAlthough intersectionality has enabled us to go beyond additive theories that see race, class, gender and so on as separate, it is not free of problems. In particular, recently scholars interested in interrelations between gender, sexuality and racialisation have critiqued the lack of attention to sexuality in most intersectional theorizing.\nAlthough intersectionality preaches about the mutuality between different oppressive structures, most often in reality, it falls back on an additive approach. Umut Erel and colleagues argue that in activism this has led to meetings between, for example, white lesbians and racialised men or white gay men and heterosexual migrant women. But this has led to the experiences of racialised gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people being left out.\nFurthermore, they argue that the important issue of class is usually left out altogether by those focused on the experiences of LGBT people. Even when disability or transgender issues are brought in, they usually relate only to the lives of relatively economically privileged (and I would add western) people.\n\nIn essence, the type of intersections focused on often serve the privileged within the hierarchies of those who are deemed oppressed. Most often, according to Erel et al., those who are left are those whose “issues and concerns are,” as Hwang (2004) says, “too subtle, too nuanced, too inconsequential to merit any attention.” These are most often people who are poor, racialised and transgendered.\nOn the one hand, these people are not included in the perspectives of black and ethnic minority communities. On the other, they are also omitted from gay and transgender activism and queer theory. As Erel and colleagues remark “Trans activism is notoriously white.” Furthermore, queer theory often mobilizes discourses of migration and dispossession. It talks about transgender people as ‘migrating’ between genders or being ‘exiled’ from their birth gender. This appropriates the real experiences of migrant people or other diasporic or exiled groups, such as Jews, people of colour, refugees, etc., especially those among them who may face racism as well as transphobia.\n\nErel et al. argue that intersectionality risks being reduced to a fashionable term in academia that actually does nothing to add to the potentially transformative epistemologies that emerged from the feminist critique.\nThe problem with intersectionality is that it focuses on relations between ‘sections’ and ‘categories’ but does not look at how hierarchies and uneven power relationships are produced.\nTo remedy this, Erel et al. argue that intersectionality has to be embedded within an antiracist, postcolonial critical context. In other words, the purpose of intersectionality is not merely to describe interlocking power relations but to transform them by analysing how they work.\n\n\n\n\n
  • Debates among feminists about the social construction of gender, the role of patriarchy and of capitalism, the critique of universalism and more recent introduction of intersectional approaches as well as there critiques have all informed the postmodern turn in gender studies.\n\nAs I began by saying, following Sara Ahmed, there is no inherent contradiction between femimism and feminist theory on the one hand and a focus on gender (rather than women) on the other. The feminist problematizing of the androcentric and heteronormative categories that forced women into specific roles and linked gender identity to perceived biological sex led the way to the further questioning of the permanency and rigidity of gender identity itself.\n\nOne of the most important voices in deconstructive approaches to gender theorizing has been Judith Butler. The ‘queering’ of gender with which Butler is associated refers to the radical contention that gender is not something that one has but is something that one has; and further, that there is no inherent relationship biological sex and gender roles, or between gender and desire. In other words, just as identifying as either male or female does not necessarily mean desiring members of the opposite sex, neither does desiring members of a particular sex define your gender. For example, a transgender man (someone who was born anatomically female but who identifies as male) may desire either men or women (or both) but crucially, this does not change when he transitions from being outwardly female to being outwardly male. \n\nButler goes beyond denying the naturalness of both sex and gender, she claims that all meaning, including gender meaning , is culturally created. In other words, we only assign gender because we are culturally conditioned to do so. Norms around sexuality, produced in societies over generations are key: As Alsop et al explain, for Butler, ‘we view biological factors as requiring a binary division into two sexes, male and female, because of a socially constructed gender to which heterosexuality is central... For Butler it is the “epistemic regime of presumptive heterosexuality” which drives our division into male and female, and which structures our understanding of biology.’ (p. 97). \n\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • Debates among feminists about the social construction of gender, the role of patriarchy and of capitalism, the critique of universalism and more recent introduction of intersectional approaches as well as there critiques have all informed the postmodern turn in gender studies.\n\nAs I began by saying, following Sara Ahmed, there is no inherent contradiction between femimism and feminist theory on the one hand and a focus on gender (rather than women) on the other. The feminist problematizing of the androcentric and heteronormative categories that forced women into specific roles and linked gender identity to perceived biological sex led the way to the further questioning of the permanency and rigidity of gender identity itself.\n\nOne of the most important voices in deconstructive approaches to gender theorizing has been Judith Butler. The ‘queering’ of gender with which Butler is associated refers to the radical contention that gender is not something that one has but is something that one has; and further, that there is no inherent relationship biological sex and gender roles, or between gender and desire. In other words, just as identifying as either male or female does not necessarily mean desiring members of the opposite sex, neither does desiring members of a particular sex define your gender. For example, a transgender man (someone who was born anatomically female but who identifies as male) may desire either men or women (or both) but crucially, this does not change when he transitions from being outwardly female to being outwardly male. \n\nButler goes beyond denying the naturalness of both sex and gender, she claims that all meaning, including gender meaning , is culturally created. In other words, we only assign gender because we are culturally conditioned to do so. Norms around sexuality, produced in societies over generations are key: As Alsop et al explain, for Butler, ‘we view biological factors as requiring a binary division into two sexes, male and female, because of a socially constructed gender to which heterosexuality is central... For Butler it is the “epistemic regime of presumptive heterosexuality” which drives our division into male and female, and which structures our understanding of biology.’ (p. 97). \n\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • Debates among feminists about the social construction of gender, the role of patriarchy and of capitalism, the critique of universalism and more recent introduction of intersectional approaches as well as there critiques have all informed the postmodern turn in gender studies.\n\nAs I began by saying, following Sara Ahmed, there is no inherent contradiction between femimism and feminist theory on the one hand and a focus on gender (rather than women) on the other. The feminist problematizing of the androcentric and heteronormative categories that forced women into specific roles and linked gender identity to perceived biological sex led the way to the further questioning of the permanency and rigidity of gender identity itself.\n\nOne of the most important voices in deconstructive approaches to gender theorizing has been Judith Butler. The ‘queering’ of gender with which Butler is associated refers to the radical contention that gender is not something that one has but is something that one has; and further, that there is no inherent relationship biological sex and gender roles, or between gender and desire. In other words, just as identifying as either male or female does not necessarily mean desiring members of the opposite sex, neither does desiring members of a particular sex define your gender. For example, a transgender man (someone who was born anatomically female but who identifies as male) may desire either men or women (or both) but crucially, this does not change when he transitions from being outwardly female to being outwardly male. \n\nButler goes beyond denying the naturalness of both sex and gender, she claims that all meaning, including gender meaning , is culturally created. In other words, we only assign gender because we are culturally conditioned to do so. Norms around sexuality, produced in societies over generations are key: As Alsop et al explain, for Butler, ‘we view biological factors as requiring a binary division into two sexes, male and female, because of a socially constructed gender to which heterosexuality is central... For Butler it is the “epistemic regime of presumptive heterosexuality” which drives our division into male and female, and which structures our understanding of biology.’ (p. 97). \n\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • For Butler, in that gender does not exist independently of discourse it has to be performed. The performance of gender, something most of us participate in, serves the purpose of upholding the social order in that gender differences serve to institutionalise heterosexuality and the patriarchal family. We all perform gender in ways which are culturally constructed within the social contexts we exist in. These have become more and more uniform over time with the spread, through colonialism, capitalism and globalization, of western gender norms, expunging other models of gender that may have existed (or to some limited extent continue to exist) in non-western societies (for example the third sex in Hinduism).\n\nWe internalise a gendered identity through our performances of ourselves and the ways in which others perform towards us. The effect of this colective performance is to make it appear that there are two distinct natural groups: male and female.\n\nAs Butler explains, gender is not possessed it is ‘done’. Gender is “a practice of improvisation within a scene of constraint... one does not ‘do’ one’s gender alone. One is always ‘doing’ with or for another, even if the other is only imaginary.” (Butler 2004). It may appear, says Butler, that we control our own gender. However, the terms of our gender are always in fact determined outside of ourselves by a sociality that has no single author. In other words there are a range of factors determining which gender or genders we will perform, and this can change over time. Our preconceived notions of fixed genders are radically overturned by intersex, transgender or transsexual people, all of whom challenge the social heterosexist and patriarchal norms that attempt to fix gender and assign individuals to one or another category.\n
  • [Show film]\nAs this interview with Butler demonstrates, there is a strong social need to regulate gender and discipline those who do not conform to gender norms.\n For Butler, the primacy placed on gender can only be understood if we understand that what she calls ‘the viability of our individual personhood’ - or in other words the quality of our lives, or whether indeed we are allowed to continue living - is determined by the social norms that condition gender.\n\nButler places emphasis on the notion of ‘humanness’ which, following Hegel, is linked to recognition. The extent to which we are recognised as human is dependent on terms which are negotiated socially and which can change over time (We can see this in the way gay people have become more accepted in most western societies in recent decades). \nTo recognise an-other as human means that some are seen as less than human - that there is always someone else with which to compare the humanness of an individual. The perception of others’ race, ethnicity, sex, sexuality and so on all play apart in the conferring of degrees of humanness onto an individual. \n\nRecognition of humanness is so important because it is necessarily bound up with power - there are those with the power to recognise humanness and those disempowered by their relegation to the status of less-than-human. \n\nIdentifying with a certain gender, or refusing to participate in gender norms may lead to a person being cast out of the realm of humanness. It may quite literally lead to the death of the type of person Butler describes in the film.\n\nThe importance of recognition for life takes on significance in debates around gay marriage for example. On the one hand, those advocating for gay marriage seek to be recognised on equal terms with heterosexual married couples and treated equally by the law. However, seeking this form of equality means a tacit acceptance of the norm of marriage, one which de facto challenges other partnership arrangements which are not considered by mainstream society to be as legitimate as heterosexual marriage. The feeling then is that if gay people can’t be straight, they can at least get married. However, this considers non gender conforming, non heteronormative lifestyles as necessarily lacking.\n\n[Click to reveal quote] Butler offers a theorization out of the straightjacket of gender norms and their hierarchisation of humanness by pointing out the historicity of the concept of humanness: “The human is not captured for once and for all” (p. 13). When we question who is considered human under current norms, we already open the possibility of thinking an alternative conception of humanity. The norms of recognition that shape the concept of the human imply operations of power. Therefore, “the contest over the future of the ‘human’ will be a contest over the power that works in and through such norms... Those deemed illegible, unrecognizable, or impossible nevertheless speak in the terms of the ‘human’, opening the term to a history not fully constrained by the existing differentials of power” (p. 15).\n\nIn this sense, theoretical discussions of the type Butler advances are not dissociable for activism by for example queer and trans people for participation in defining the terms of humanness and overturning the social norms that continue to confine them to the margins.\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • [Show film]\nAs this interview with Butler demonstrates, there is a strong social need to regulate gender and discipline those who do not conform to gender norms.\n For Butler, the primacy placed on gender can only be understood if we understand that what she calls ‘the viability of our individual personhood’ - or in other words the quality of our lives, or whether indeed we are allowed to continue living - is determined by the social norms that condition gender.\n\nButler places emphasis on the notion of ‘humanness’ which, following Hegel, is linked to recognition. The extent to which we are recognised as human is dependent on terms which are negotiated socially and which can change over time (We can see this in the way gay people have become more accepted in most western societies in recent decades). \nTo recognise an-other as human means that some are seen as less than human - that there is always someone else with which to compare the humanness of an individual. The perception of others’ race, ethnicity, sex, sexuality and so on all play apart in the conferring of degrees of humanness onto an individual. \n\nRecognition of humanness is so important because it is necessarily bound up with power - there are those with the power to recognise humanness and those disempowered by their relegation to the status of less-than-human. \n\nIdentifying with a certain gender, or refusing to participate in gender norms may lead to a person being cast out of the realm of humanness. It may quite literally lead to the death of the type of person Butler describes in the film.\n\nThe importance of recognition for life takes on significance in debates around gay marriage for example. On the one hand, those advocating for gay marriage seek to be recognised on equal terms with heterosexual married couples and treated equally by the law. However, seeking this form of equality means a tacit acceptance of the norm of marriage, one which de facto challenges other partnership arrangements which are not considered by mainstream society to be as legitimate as heterosexual marriage. The feeling then is that if gay people can’t be straight, they can at least get married. However, this considers non gender conforming, non heteronormative lifestyles as necessarily lacking.\n\n[Click to reveal quote] Butler offers a theorization out of the straightjacket of gender norms and their hierarchisation of humanness by pointing out the historicity of the concept of humanness: “The human is not captured for once and for all” (p. 13). When we question who is considered human under current norms, we already open the possibility of thinking an alternative conception of humanity. The norms of recognition that shape the concept of the human imply operations of power. Therefore, “the contest over the future of the ‘human’ will be a contest over the power that works in and through such norms... Those deemed illegible, unrecognizable, or impossible nevertheless speak in the terms of the ‘human’, opening the term to a history not fully constrained by the existing differentials of power” (p. 15).\n\nIn this sense, theoretical discussions of the type Butler advances are not dissociable for activism by for example queer and trans people for participation in defining the terms of humanness and overturning the social norms that continue to confine them to the margins.\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • Butler’s discussion of humanness leads to a discussion of how the gender norms that produce hierarchies of gendered humanness are produced. To understand the way in which gender is enforced, it is necessary to understand the transposition of gender norms into rules or the means of regulating gender.\n\nNorms produce rules; or rules are used to institutionalise what is to be considered normal (the norm) in the sense that anything that diverges from the norm also breaks a rule due to the linking of rules to norms. \n\nGender norms are produced through the regulating of gender. When someone veers from the gender norm (by being transgender, homosexual, etc.) gender regulations are unleashed to attempt to force them to conform to the gender norms they deviate from. Butler gives the example of surgical correction for intersex children. other examples historically have included electric shock therapy for gay people...\n\nHowever, more positive examples also participate in producing gender norms. For example, sexual harassment codes are based on the assumption that men are the harassers and women the harassed. The problem with this according to Butler is that is serves to fix gender to sex and assume that having a particular gender necessitates certain forms of sexual practice. in contrast, Butler argues that gender is itself internally unstable. \n\nButler cites legal scholar Katherine Franke who argues that “By reducing sexism to only that which is done to women by men, we lose sight of the underlying ideology that makes sexism so powerful... The subordination of women by men is part of a larger social practice that creates gendered bodies - feminine women and masculine men.”\n\nIt would therefore appear from a reading of Butler that what needs to be done to overturn gendered forms of discrimination is to expose this instability rather than focusing on the performances of gender that essentialise gender differences by forcing ‘men’ and ‘women’ to behave in pre-prescribed ways.\n
  • In conclusion, what are some of the most important issues for gender theorizing today?\n\nSpace does not permit a full discussion, but in the current political context post 9/11, the ‘war on terror’ and the questioning of multiculturalism that has led to the targeting of minorities - Muslims in particular - as dangerously illiberal in western societies, the most important issue for gender theory appears to be the complicity of new norms around gender equality and queerness which themselves are being used as arms in the global war on terror.\n\nBoth Judith Butler (Frames of War) and Jasbir Puar (Terrorist Assemblages) among others have paid attention to it. They have noted the ways in which liberal values around gender and sexuality have been used as ways of policing the relations between the West and the East (Muslim countries in particular) and between western states and their Muslim minorities. \n\nThe term homonationalims has been coined by Jasbir Puar to explicate the way in which the United States (but also Europe) paints itself as sexually liberal and thus opposed to non-western states which are portrayed as inherently homophobic. This presumed homophobia is itself used as a means to police relations with these states. The Abu Ghraib scandal in which prisoners were forced to participate in sexually demeaning act becomes a performance of US troops’ sexually progressiveness vis-a-vis their victims’ primitiveness - its status as an act of torture is thus diminished.\n\nSimilar processes are at work in relation to the current focus on the west’s relationship to Muslim women both at home and abroad. The invasion of Afghanistan is portrayed as a mission to save Afghan women, although reports by the RAWA (Revolutionary association of women of afghanistan) relate the worsening of the condition of women since the US/NATO invasion. The banning of the hijab and the burka in France is similarly portrayed, in the terms of French sociologist Eric Fassin, as a fight for sexual democracy. National integrity is portrayed as being violated by the presence of illiberal forces - Patriarchal Muslim women who force ‘their women’ to wear demeaning headgear. This portrayal refuses the notion that women who wear the hijab or burka are exercising their women freedom of choice but more significantly according to Butler it means the harnessing of the language of gender equality and sexual freedom to an imperialist and racist project that, in turn, justifies the oppression of Muslim women. The banning of girls who wear the hijab from French schools, as Pierre Tevanien argues, far from emancipating them further compounds their marginalization by denying them the possibility of studying.\n\nThe participation of gay organisations, politicians such as the late Pym Fortuyn in the Netherlands or the formation of a gay wing of the English Defence League are examples of the cooptation of a language of gender equality by a right-wing agenda that claims progressiveness as a nationalist value. The inherent problem for feminist activism and gender theory is that this serves to obscure the persistence of inequality around gender and sexuality in western countries. By focusing on crimes against women from minorities, for example, and naming them honour killings, forced marriages and so on the persistence of crimes against women in general or against gender queer people from whatever ethnic origin become obscured. \n

Transcript

  • 1. Engendering the Social
  • 2. Themes
  • 3. ThemesFeminism
  • 4. ThemesFeminism Social
  • 5. ThemesFeminism Feminist theories Social
  • 6. ThemesFeminism Feminist theories Social
  • 7. ThemesFeminism Gender Feminist theories Social
  • 8. ThemesFeminism Gender Feminist theories Current issues Social
  • 9. Gender orWomen’s Studies?
  • 10. Gender orWomen’s Studies?“[T]he word gender increasingly becomesused in the context of work aboutwomen or sexuality; the titles ofconferences or seminars refer to theissue of gender and a particular context.Women, a term in some disarray andsome disharmony, appears to havebecome less acceptable and, in a sense,more controversial. My concern here,therefore, is to explore some of thedifficulties in moving away from womento gender.” Mary Evans 1990 Women’s Studies International Forum Vol. 13(5)
  • 11. Feminist
  • 12. Feminist“Speaking of thedifference of feminism,as a difference thatmatters, undoes thecritical trajectorywhereby feminismeither mirrors ordistorts the face ofpostmodernism itself” Sarah Ahmed (1998: 15)
  • 13. Feminist Although “contemporarily relations“Speaking of the between men and womendifference of feminism, are structured in aas a difference that manner which tends tomatters, undoes the subordinate and oppresscritical trajectory women... current normswhereby feminism of gender marginalizeeither mirrors or many men and... culturaldistorts the face of constructions of genderpostmodernism itself” exclude and alienate Sarah Ahmed (1998: those who do not fit 15) neatly into the categories male/female” Alsop et al (2002: 5)
  • 14. Gender as social
  • 15. Gender as social“The constancy of sexmust be admitted, butso too must thevariability of gender” Ann Oakley (1985: 16)
  • 16. Materialistfeminism
  • 17. MaterialistfeminismGender is “the casting ofwomen or men into specificroles depending on thesocial and politicalconstruction in a givensociety in a given historicalperiod.” Nira Yuval-Davis, 1997
  • 18. Patriarch
  • 19. Patriarch“The valuelessness of domestic work performed bymarried women derives institutionally from the marriagecontract, which is in fact a work contract... the husband– appropriates all the work done in the family by hischildren, his younger siblings and especially by his wife,since he can sell it on the market as his own...Conversely, the wife’s labour has no value because itcannot be put on the market, and it cannot be put onthe market because of the contract by which her labourpower is appropriated by her husband. Since theproduction intended for exchange – on the market – isaccomplished outside the family in the wage-earningsystem, and since a married man sells his work and nota product in the system, the unpaid work of womencannot be incorporated in the production intended forexchange. It has therefore become limited to producingthings which are intended for the family’s internal use:domestic services and the raising of children.” Christine Delphy (1976)
  • 20. Patriarch“The valuelessness of domestic work performed by Walby’s Six structuresmarried women derives institutionally from the marriagecontract, which is in fact a work contract... the husband of patriarchy (1989):– appropriates all the work done in the family by hischildren, his younger siblings and especially by his wife,since he can sell it on the market as his own... ★Paid workConversely, the wife’s labour has no value because it ★Houseworkcannot be put on the market, and it cannot be put onthe market because of the contract by which her labour ★Sexualitypower is appropriated by her husband. Since theproduction intended for exchange – on the market – is ★Cultureaccomplished outside the family in the wage-earningsystem, and since a married man sells his work and not ★Violencea product in the system, the unpaid work of womencannot be incorporated in the production intended for ★The Stateexchange. It has therefore become limited to producingthings which are intended for the family’s internal use:domestic services and the raising of children.” Christine Delphy (1976)
  • 21. Challenging
  • 22. Challenging‘Thinking critically about themeanings of women’s freedom andequality is central to navigating thehistorical ‘terror’-filled moment.But these meanings are not bestunderstood as simply of the West,because the West is not a singularsite for these ideas, even if Westernappropriation says so… There is nomonolithic global feminism, norcan a universalising languageencompass a complete accountingof women’s activism’ (Zillah Eisenstein, 2003: 155)
  • 23. Intersectionality
  • 24. Intersectionality“Many of the experiences Blackwomen face are not subsumed withinthe traditional boundaries of race orgender discrimination as theseboundaries are currently understood,and that the intersection of racismand sexism factors into Blackwomens lives in ways that cannot becaptured wholly bylooking at the women race or genderdimensions of those experiencesseparately.” Kimberlé Crenshaw
  • 25. IntersectionalityConsider an analogy to traffic in anintersection, coming and going in allfour directions.experiences Black “Many of the Discrimination, liketraffic through an intersection, may flow women face are not subsumed withinin one direction, and it may flow in the traditional boundaries of race oranother. If an accident happens in an gender discrimination as theseintersection, it can be caused by cars boundaries are currently understood,traveling from any number of directions and that the intersection of racismand, sometimes, from all of them. and sexism factors into BlackSimilarly, if a Black woman is harmed womens lives in ways that cannot bebecause she is in an intersection, her captured wholly byinjury could result from sex looking at the women race or genderdiscrimination or race discrimination […] dimensions of those experiencesBut it is not always easy to reconstruct separately.”an accident: Sometimes the skid marks Kimberlé Crenshawand the injuries simply indicate that theyoccurred simultaneously, frustratingefforts to determine which driver causedthe harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989. P149)
  • 26. Queering Becoming by Yisha Garbasz
  • 27. Queering“There is no recourseto a body that has notalready beeninterpreted by culturalmeanings, hence sexcould not qualify as aprediscursiveanatomical facticity” Judith Butler (1990) Becoming by Yisha Garbasz
  • 28. Queering‘We view biological factors as “There is no recourserequiring a binary has not to a body that divisioninto two sexes, male and already beenfemale, because of a socially interpreted by culturalconstructed gender to which meanings, hence sexheterosexuality is central... could not qualify as aFor Butler it is the “epistemicregime of presumptive prediscursiveheterosexuality” which drives anatomical facticity”our division into male andfemale, and which structures Judith Butler (1990)our understanding of Becoming by Yisha Garbaszbiology.’ Alsop et al. (2002)
  • 29. Performing Female Masculinity, De la Grace Volcano
  • 30. Performing Female Masculinity, De la Grace Volcano Gender is “a practice of improvisationwithin a scene of constraint... one does not ‘do’ one’s gender alone. One isalways ‘doing’ with or for another, even if the other is only imaginary.” Judith Butler (2004)
  • 31. Recognizing
  • 32. Recognizing “The contest over the future of the ‘human’ will be a contestover the power that works in and through such norms... Those deemed illegible, unrecognizable, or impossible nevertheless speak in the terms of the ‘human’, opening the term to a history not fully constrained by the existing differentials of power” Judith Butler (2004)
  • 33. Recognizing “The contest over the future of the ‘human’ will be a contestover the power that works in and through such norms... Those deemed illegible, unrecognizable, or impossible nevertheless speak in the terms of the ‘human’, opening the term to a history not fully constrained by the existing differentials of power” Judith Butler (2004)
  • 34. Regulating
  • 35. Regulating“By reducing sexism toonly that which is done towomen by men, we losesight of the underlyingideology that makessexism so powerful... Thesubordination of womenby men is part of a largersocial practice that createsgendered bodies -feminine women andmasculine men.” Katherine Franke
  • 36. Homonationalis
  • 37. Homonationalis“Queerness is proffered as asexually exceptional form ofAmerican national sexualitythrough a rhetoric of sexualmodernization that issimultaneously able tocastigate the other ashomophobic and perverse,and construct theimperialist centre as‘tolerant’ but sexually,racially, and genderednormal.”