Sc2220 Lecture 4a 2009

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Lecture 4: Gender Systems (Continued)

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Sc2220 Lecture 4a 2009

  1. 1. SC2220: Gender Studies Gender Systems (Cultural Systems, continued…) Eric C. Thompson National University of Singapore
  2. 2. Hollywood Images of Masculinity: Late 20 th Century Transitions <ul><li>1970s: Clint Eastwood : Independent, Solitary Figure ( High Plains Drifter 1973, Dirty Harry 1971) </li></ul><ul><li>1977: Luke Skywalker : The New-Age Spiritual Male </li></ul><ul><li>1993: Falling Down : Hegemonic Middle-Class, White, American Masculinity Hegemony in Crisis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Struggling to come to terms in a changing world . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vigilante (“Dirty Harry”) is now the Bad Guy . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1999: “ Fight Club ”: Reclaiming Masculinity </li></ul>
  3. 3. Falling Down: Notes and Reflections <ul><li>Crisis of Hegemonic Masculinity : White, Middle-Class, English-speaking, Middle-Age, American Family-Man </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’m the bad guy?”: The world turned upside-down. </li></ul><ul><li>Intersection of Gender, Race, Class, Age </li></ul><ul><li>Falling Down in Singapore? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chinese, Hokkien-Speaking, Middle-Class, Middle-Age, Singaporean Family-Man? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Ah Beng” Culture ? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Fight Club: Notes and Reflections <ul><li>Fight-Therapy (Masculine) vs. Talk-Therapy (Feminine) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of male role models (divorce culture, absentee fathers) </li></ul><ul><li>Problematic relationships with women (single mothers; dysfunctional heterosexuality) </li></ul><ul><li>Struggling with symbolic status competition and identity (“you’re not your f***in’ khakis”) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Masculinity and Femininity <ul><li>“ Structures of Appropriate Behavior” (from film The Gender Tango ) </li></ul><ul><li>Varies over time and across cultures. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assured, assertive masculinity of the 1960s-1970s (Clint Eastwood) replaced by masculinity in crisis of the 1980s-1990s (Falling Down; Fight Club) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diminishing tolerance for gender pluralism in Southeast Asia over the past 500+ years. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Masculinity and Femininity are constructed in relationship to each other. </li></ul>
  6. 6. How do we go about producing Systems of Gender and Sexuality? The Cultural Process . . General Concepts of Masculinity and Femininity
  7. 7. Sari Business Pretty Clothes Dress Things (without Meaning) Masculine Feminine T-Shirt Shirt Girl Tall Guy Petite Strong Gentle Jeans Aggressive Work Architecture Engineering Nurturing Sports Shopping Arts Home Boy Ovaries Breasts Handsome Muscles Skirt Pondan/ Ah Kwah Make-Up Man Woman Sissy Activities Bodies Signifiers Dispositions Androgen Estrogen Testes
  8. 8. Sari Business Clothes We pick out “ meaningless things” and give them meaning by associating them with masculinity (or femininity ) Chinese Dress Masculine Feminine Batik Shirt Batik Dress T-Shirt Chinese Shirt Tall Guy Petite Strong Gentle Jeans Aggressive Architecture Engineering Nurturing Sports Shopping Arts Home Boy Ovaries Breasts Handsome Muscles Skirt Pondan/ Ah Kwah Man Woman Sissy Activities Bodies Signifiers Dispositions Estrogen Testes
  9. 9. Sari Business Clothes The things we associate with masculinity or femininity are largely arbitrary. Chinese Dress Masculine Feminine Batik Shirt Batik Dress T-Shirt Chinese Shirt Tall Guy Petite Strong Gentle Jeans Aggressive Architecture Engineering Nurturing Sports Shopping Arts Home Boy Ovaries Breasts Handsome Muscles Skirt Man Woman Sissy Activities Bodies Signifiers Dispositions Estrogen Testes Pondan/ Ah Kwah A skirt is feminine not masculine!! (Isn’t it?)
  10. 10. Tell that to these guys…
  11. 11. Difference and Distinction are essential to Meaning Mapping things onto a gendered structure gives them meaning.
  12. 12. Sari Pretty Dress Masculine Feminine T-Shirt Shirt Girl Tall Guy Petite Strong Gentle Jeans Aggressive Work Engineering Nurturing Sports Shopping Arts Home Boy Ovaries Breasts Handsome Muscles Skirt Make-Up Man Woman Androgen Estrogen Testes A Gendered Structure of Meaning Pondan/ Ah Kwah Sissy ?? A Two Gender System: Binary Oppositions
  13. 13. A Three Gender System Masculine Feminine T-Shirt Shirt Girl Tall Guy Petite Strong Gentle Jeans Aggressive Work Engineering Nurturing Sports Shopping Arts Home Boy Ovaries Breasts Handsome Muscles Skirt Make-Up Man Woman Androgen Estrogen Testes A Different Gendered Structure of Meaning Dress Feminine Pretty Dress Pondan/ Ah Kwah Sissy
  14. 14. Gender versus Sexuality <ul><li>Gender and Sexuality are very closely related, but not the same. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Gay” and “Straight” – refers to sexuality (sexual practices) </li></ul><ul><li>Pondan, Katoey, Berdache, Man, Woman, etc. are “gender” identities (a broader category that mere sexual practices). </li></ul><ul><li>Example of “Katoey” gender . </li></ul><ul><li>See: Oetomo (1995) in Supplemental Readings </li></ul>
  15. 15. Gender Systems at Play <ul><li>Gender systems (cultural beliefs) provide us a basis for knowing how to behave. </li></ul><ul><li>This enables and empowers us to act (as gendered individuals) in society. </li></ul><ul><li>It can also be constraining and limiting (for example, Billy Tipton, who had to go to great length to overcome gender constraints). </li></ul><ul><li>Gender is also a source of pleasure, amusement and play in all cultures. </li></ul>

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