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Sc2220 Lecture 2 2009

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Lecture 2: Overview of Gender Studies

Lecture 2: Overview of Gender Studies

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  • 1. SC2220: Gender Studies: An Overview Dr. Eric C. Thompson
  • 2. Reminder
    • READINGS (CoursePack) now available (NUS COOP, Forum)… Get your copies!!
    • Textbook is on Order…
    • Chapters 1 and 3 available in IVLE Workbin (Read for First Tutorial!!!!!)
  • 3. In this lecture…
    • Context: Changing position of women in society (19 th – 21 st centuries).
    • Content: Changing position of women in sociology, anthropology and social science.
      • Sociology of Women
      • Feminist Sociology
      • Sociology of Gender
  • 4. Changing Gender Relations: 19 th -21 st Centuries
    • General Social Changes: Industrialization, Urbanization, Democratization, Socialism, Capitalism, Nationalism, Colonialism & Postcolonialism, Globalization, etc.
    • Social Movements: Demands for Voting Rights (Suffrage), Access to Education, Job Opportunities, Protection from Exploitation/Harassment, Social Welfare, Religious Freedoms, etc.
  • 5. Social Change (America)
    • 19 th Century: Anti-slavery (abolitionist) movement; freedom & equality for slaves linked to freedom & equality for women.
    • 1848 – Seneca Falls Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments (“First Wave Feminism”)
    • 1920 – Right to vote for Women (suffrage)
    • 1942-1945 (WWII) – Women enter the workforce to replace men who have gone off to war. “ Rosie the Riveter ”
    • 1950s – Pressure on women to return to ‘traditional’ roles in post-war America
  • 6. Social Change (America)
    • 1960s–1970s: “Baby boom” generation, changing social attitudes (e.g. Mary Tyler Moore ); “Second Wave” Feminism
    • 1980s: “Backlash”, return to conservativism under Ronald Reagan; yet significant gains for women now taken for granted (education; careers)
    • 1990s – “Third Wave” Feminism; from a “Women’s Movement” to “ Girl Power ”
  • 7. Waves of Feminism*
    • First Wave: 19 th – early 20 th C.
      • Women’s Suffrage (voting rights)
    • Second Wave: 1960s – 1980s
      • Equality in all things: Education, Work, Pay, Dishwashing, etc.
    • Third Wave: 1990s – present
      • Diverse Responses to “Second Wave” Feminism (including but not limited to “Girl Power”)
    *All based mainly on American history; Similar “waves” have been constructed for Singapore .
  • 8. What is Feminism ? What is a Feminist ?
  • 9. A doctrine suggesting that women are systematically disadvantaged in modern society and advocating equal opportunities for men and women. (Dictionary of Sociology; Penguin Publishing) A social movement which seeks to achieve equality between the sexes by extension of rights for women. (Oxford Dictionary of Sociology) Is Feminism . . . ? “‘ Women’ is an unstable category ... and feminism is the site of the systematic fighting out of that instability.” (Riley, p.5)
  • 10. Liberal Feminism (1) : Men and women should be treated equally and the same. Liberal Feminism (2) : Men and women and intersexed are not “the same” (however, they are more alike than they are different & society exaggerates difference). Gender is a pervasive social and cultural institution that must be analyzed and understood; Social and political changes should be made that allow the widest possible choices and opportunities for women and men and intersexed. Liberal Feminisms
  • 11. Other Feminisms* Marxist/Socialist Feminism : Capitalism operates in conjunction with patriarchy to oppress women; primary focus on the political-economy of women’s oppression. Radical Feminism : The source of all oppression is patriarchy , which is “men’s misogynist domination of women through violence” (Lorber, p. 4).** Women are better off without men. **We will be critiquing this definition of patriarchy later in the semester. Black Feminism : Racism operates in conjunction with patriarchy to oppress women. Muslim Feminism : Traditional male interpretations of Islam must be questioned to find the true meaning of the role of women in Islam (e.g. Sisters in Islam – Malaysia; Irshad Manji - Canada). *See also Lorber 1994; these are only a few of many “varieties” of feminism.
  • 12. Anti-Feminisms Conservative Anti-Feminism : Society is fine just the way it is; Men and women fulfill appropriate sex-roles that allow society to function (e.g. Talcott Parsons*). Changing sex-roles are dangerous. Conservative Anti-Feminism has a number of variants, for example: Western, Asian, Christian , Muslim, etc. Radical Anti-Feminism : “A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed” (Rush Limbaugh, conservative American radio talk show host). More generally, any advocate of any form of “feminism” is a “ feminazi . ” Men are superior to women; Women must be kept in their place at all costs. http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/data/pdfdoc/2004042102.htm http://www.aware.org.sg/main/article_29.shtml Change or Not? Views from Singapore *See: Franklin, p. xix
  • 13. No More Feminists? Anti-feminists have been largely successful in characterizing all feminists/feminisms as either Liberal Feminists-1 (men and women are the same) or Radical Feminists (men are the root of all evil). (See: Faludi 1991 ) Basic ideas of feminism (e.g. that women should be given similar opportunities as men in most areas of public life) are now widely accepted in many societies – Singapore, United States, etc. At the same time, most people deny any connection with feminism, while supporting feminist principles (e.g. “I believe women and men should have equal opportunities; but I’m not a feminist! ”)
  • 14. Another take onMary Tyler Moore…
  • 15. Social Change(Singapore)
    • 1901: Population Overwhelmingly male
      • Sex ratio 3 men to 1 woman (14:1 in 1860!)
      • Very large sex industry
    • 1920s-1930s: Importation of wives; Gradual shift toward “family life”
    • 1930s-1940s: Samsui Women ; independent working women
    • 1952: Singapore Council for Women
      • Movement against polygamy and inequality
  • 16. Social Change(Singapore)
    • 1961: Women’s Charter
      • Polygamy banned for non-Muslims
    • 1965: Separation from Malaysia
      • Emphasis on Human Capital (“No resources”)
    • 1970s-1980s: Rapid Economic Development
    • 1983: Graduate Mothers Scheme & “Great Marriage Debate”
    • 1984: Social Development Unit (Matchmaking)
    • 1985: Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)
  • 17. A Few Notable Dates in Changing Gender Relations
    • 1829 – Sati (burning widows alive) banned in India.
    • 1910 – Department for women opened at Cairo University , Egypt.
    • 1911 – Foot binding banned in China
    • 1920 – Women gain the vote in the United States.
    • 1923 – Huda Sha’rawi founds the Egyptian Feminist Union; rejects wearing of face veil.
    • 1956 – Sati banned again in India.
    • 1969 – Women gain admittance to Yale University .
    • 1979 – Singapore imposes quota on women in medical school (so that the investment in education won’t be “wasted”).
    • 1979 – China institutes “ one-child policy ”; male-to-female birth ratio rises dramatically (between 118-130 males for every 100 female).
    • 1982 – Equal Rights Amendment fails ratification in the United States.
    • 1985 – Association of Women for Action and Research ( AWARE ) founded in Singapore.
    • 1987 – Sati banned yet again in India (after a revival in the 1980s).
    • 1996 – Taliban take power in Afghanistan, women banned from schools, work, and public life. Men without beards beaten; women shot to protect their virtue.
    • 2004 – Singapore lifts quota on women in medical school.
    • 2004 – France bans hijab ( tudung ) in public schools.
    • 2004 – Two women appointed Ministers of State in Singapore.
  • 18. Sociology of Women Feminist Sociology Sociology of Gender Franklin pp. xiv & xxvii Up to 1970s* 1970s-1990s* 1990s-present* Changing Gender Relations & Social Movements through the 19 th to 21 st centuries provide an important context for the development of Gender Studies *The dates indicate periods when each was a dominant trend; all three trends can be found in all periods of academic history.
  • 19. Sociology of Women Feminist Sociology Sociology of Gender Franklin pp. xiv & xxvii “ Additive”… sought to make women ‘visible’ in sociology; Research about women’s experience. Reconceptualization of society; Focus on patriarchy and gendering of all aspects of social life; Explicitly political Deconstruction of the category “women”; Focus on gender rather than women ; Including men , masculinities, intersexed , and sexualities . Up to 1970s 1970s-1990s 1990s-present From “Women” to “Gender”
  • 20. Sociology/Anthropology of Women
    • Women have always been involved in Sociology, Anthropology & other Social Sciences.
      • For example, Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
    • “ Sociology of Women” – research about women’s experiences “in addition” to the majority of work done about men.
      • Coming of Age in Samoa (Margaret Mead, 1943)
      • Housekeeping among Malay Peasants (Rosemary Firth, 1943)
    • Did not fundamentally challenge major social and cultural theory.
  • 21. Feminist Sociology/Anthropology
    • Political commitments to changing the status, roles, opportunities of women. Focus on oppression of women in society and exclusion from public life.
    • Explicitly challenged traditional social science.
    • For example:
      • Toward a Feminist Theory of the State , MacKinnon 1989: Explicitly gendered/feminist analysis of the state as an institution.
      • The Woman that Never Evolved , Hrdy 1981: Challenged theories of male dominance and competition within an evolutionary framework.
  • 22. Sociology of Gender
    • Shift toward a “Sociology of Gender” due to three related trends:
    • 1. Critical deconstruction of “women” as a category of analysis. (Diversity of women’s experiences personally and culturally.)
    • 2. Recognition of gender as a system that effects women and men.
    • 3. Studies of sex & sexuality (intersexed experience; homosexuality; etc.)
  • 23. Sociology of Women Feminist Sociology Sociology of Gender Franklin pp. xiv & xxvii “ Additive”… sought to make women ‘visible’ in sociology; Research about women’s experience. Reconceptualization of society; Focus on patriarchy and gendering of all aspects of social life; Explicitly political Deconstruction of the category “women”; Focus on gender rather than women ; Including men , masculinities, intersexed , and sexualities . Up to 1970s 1970s-1990s 1990s-present From “Women” to “Gender”
  • 24. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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