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Gender and Geography


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Report on Gender and Geography for IR 236 Class, July 5, 2008

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Gender and Geography

  1. 1. Gender and Geography BY Maam Lumanglas IR 236, 5 July 2008
  2. 2. Geography (from Wikipedia) <ul><li>Study of the earth and its features, inhabitants and phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>“ To describe or write about the Earth&quot; </li></ul>
  3. 3. Geography (from Wikipedia) <ul><li>seeks to understand the world and all of its human and natural complexities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ The bridge between the human and physical sciences“ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human Geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical Geography </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Feminist Geography (from Wikipedia) <ul><li>An approach in human geography </li></ul><ul><li>Applies the theories, methods and critiques of feminism to the study of the human environment, society and geographical space </li></ul>
  5. 5. Feminist Geography (from Wikipedia) <ul><li>STRANDS TO FEMINIST GEOGRAPHY </li></ul><ul><li>Geographic differences in gender relations and gender equality </li></ul><ul><li>The geography of women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>spatial constraints, welfare geography </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The construction of gender identity through the use & nature of spaces & places </li></ul><ul><li>Geographies of sexuality </li></ul>
  6. 6. Feminist Geography (EXAMPLES) urban planning has a gender dimension with the expectation that men travel to a distant location for employment while women are involved with child care, basic shopping, and domestic functions in a suburban location.
  7. 7. Feminist Geography (EXAMPLES) gender differences in terms of personal access, mobility and safety, especially in respect to the design and use of urban space and open places such as public parks and footpaths
  8. 8. Feminist Geography (EXAMPLES) worldwide migration of women from the Third World to the First World to perform domestic labor and sex work
  9. 9. KEY ISSUES <ul><li>Gender relations and geographies are mutually constructed and transformed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spaces affect gender and gender affects spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assumptions about gender have influenced the study of geography and the position of women in the discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptions of the body are central to understanding gender and space relations </li></ul>
  10. 10. KEY ISSUES <ul><li>Gender influences the ways in which people understand, experience and use spaces like the home, the workplace and the street </li></ul><ul><li>Although geographic research on gender has “traditionally” focused on the experiences and needs of women, geographers are increasingly interested in gaining a greater understanding of men and masculinities </li></ul>
  11. 11. History of Gender 1 st Phase – 1970s 2 nd Phase – 1980s 3 rd Phase – Current Gender and Geography
  12. 12. 1 st Phase – 1970s <ul><li>Sexist bias in the content, methods and purpose of geographical research meant that only “half of the human” were being included in geography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographical research reflected white, able-bodied, male, middle class values and issues as the norm </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. 1 st Phase – 1970s <ul><li>Drawn from the Liberal Feminist Movement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There should be equality between men and women in both public and private spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include women in geography and geographical research </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resulted in a growth in research into women’s lives particularly in the spaces of the home, the workplace and the street </li></ul>
  14. 14. 2 nd Phase – 1980s <ul><li>Move from simply placing women in geography to examining the mechanisms that created the wide range of socio-material inequalities between men and women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>particularly in the context of the workplace and the home </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. 2 nd Phase – 1980s <ul><li>Recognition that spaces were gendered </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Space was previously viewed as “neutral” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Space can be seen to reflect gendered and heterosexual values and norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many spaces can be argued as hetero-patriarchal spaces </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. 2 nd Phase – 1980s <ul><li>Influenced by radical Socialist/Marxist trends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Links are made between the home as a site of reproduction and the workplace as a space of production </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Thereby linking patriarchy and capitalism </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. 3 rd and Current Phase <ul><li>Recognition that even when increasing numbers of women are achieving economic equality with men </li></ul><ul><li>broader social and cultural beliefs and practices still influence the opportunities and expectations of women </li></ul>
  18. 18. 3 rd and Current Phase <ul><li>Geographers in the contemporary era have begun to unsettle the binary construction “male”/“female” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They have become increasingly interested in the differences that exist amongst and between men & women </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Influenced by Post-Structural Feminists who seek to disrupt what is taken for granted </li></ul>
  19. 19. Theoretical Approaches The Natural and the Social The Mind/Body Dualism Bodily Compartment Gender and Geography
  20. 20. The Natural and the Social <ul><li>Notions that women’s bodies are both different and inferior to men’s: </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s menstruation was read as a sign of their inherent lack of control over their bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Women leaked, while men were self-contained </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Natural and the Social <ul><li>Notions that women’s bodies are both different and inferior to men’s: </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s role in reproduction was understood to mean that they were “naturally” more nurturing and more closely linked to “Mother Earth” than men </li></ul>
  22. 22. The Natural and the Social <ul><li>Association between women and nature: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Just as nature is wild and potentially uncontrollable, women were less able to control their emotions and passions than men </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s unstable bodies were considered to be a threat to their minds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Women’s bodies were used to justify what was regarded as “natural inequality” between the sexes </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Natural and the Social <ul><li>ESSENTIALISTS </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual differences are determined by biology </li></ul><ul><li>Bodies have particular stable, fixed properties or “essences” </li></ul><ul><li>SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISTS </li></ul><ul><li>There is no “natural” body </li></ul><ul><li>The body is always “culturally mapped” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Essence” is actually socially constructed difference </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Natural and the Social <ul><li>SOCIAL CONSTRUCTINISTS </li></ul><ul><li>What is understood by “man” and “woman” varies historically and in different cultural contexts </li></ul><ul><li>The social meanings ascribed to men and women (or gender) is socially constructed in a hierarchical way </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Mind/Body Dualism <ul><li>MIND </li></ul><ul><li>Only the mind had the power of intelligence, spirituality and therefore selfhood </li></ul><ul><li>Associated with positive terms such as rationality, consciousness, reason and masculinity </li></ul><ul><li>BODY </li></ul><ul><li>The corporeal body was nothing but a machine </li></ul><ul><li>Associated with negative terms such as emotionality, nature, irrationality and femininity </li></ul>
  26. 26. The Mind/Body Dualism <ul><li>MAN </li></ul><ul><li>Transcend their embodiment by regarding the body as merely the container of their consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Able to separate himself from his emotions and experiences </li></ul><ul><li>WOMAN </li></ul><ul><li>More closely tied to, and ruled by, their bodies due to natural cycles of menstruation, pregnancy & childbirth </li></ul><ul><li>Presumed to be a “victim of the vagaries of her emotions, a creature who cannot think straight as a consequence” </li></ul>
  27. 27. The Mind/Body Dualism <ul><li>Applied to Geography: </li></ul><ul><li>Men have tended to marginalize women as producers of geographical knowledge and what are considered women’s issues as topic of study </li></ul><ul><li>Until the mid-late 1990’s topics such as embodiment, emotion & sexuality were regarded as inappropriate </li></ul>
  28. 28. Bodily Comportment <ul><li>“ Throwing Like a Girl” </li></ul><ul><li>BOYS use their whole bodies to throw, leaning back, twisting and reaching forward </li></ul><ul><li>GIRLS tend to be relatively stiff and immobile, only using their arms to produce a throwing action </li></ul>
  29. 29. Bodily Comportment <ul><li>Women are alienated from their bodies and as a result, occupy and use space in an inhibited way compared with men </li></ul><ul><li>Women demonstrate restricted body movements and inhibited comportment in some physical activities </li></ul>
  30. 30. Bodily Comportment <ul><li>Women are inhibited and do not put their bodies into the task with the same ease as men </li></ul>
  31. 31. Bodily Comportment <ul><li>Women also fear getting hurt </li></ul><ul><li>Their bodies tend to become the object of the male gaze </li></ul><ul><li>It has become acceptable for men to look at, comment on or touch women’s bodies in public space </li></ul><ul><li>As a result women are fearful that their body space may be invaded </li></ul>
  32. 32. Bodily Comportment <ul><li>“ To be an adult male is distinctly to occupy space, to have a physical presence in the world” </li></ul>
  33. 33. Gender and Space Relations in Context Domestic Space Workplace Streets Gender and Geography
  34. 34. Domestic Spaces <ul><li>Women were attributed with the sort of emotional qualities necessary to nurture families and run the house </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whereas men were seen as fiery, active, aggressive, and so more suited the public world of work. </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Domestic Spaces <ul><li>Early 19 th C – residential areas developed along road and railway lines allowing men to travel into the city to the workplace, leaving women and children in residential suburbs </li></ul>
  36. 36. Domestic Spaces <ul><li>Early 19 th C – residential areas developed along road and railway lines allowing men to travel into the city to the workplace, leaving women and children in residential suburbs </li></ul><ul><li>After WW II – Planners used the pro-natalist approach in housing design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To address falling birth rates and improve family housing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To persuade more women to have children and remove temptations for them to work outside the home </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Domestic Spaces <ul><li>With the rising standards of housing came the rising standards of housework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Washing machines and vacuum cleaners became commonplace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s magazines became preoccupied with cleaning products (e.g., VIM) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Domestic ideology: housework is not just a set of chores but a moral undertaking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A dirty home was equated with slovenliness, cleanliness was equated with goodness </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Domestic Spaces <ul><li>Late 20 th C – Women in paid employment continue to do the lion’s share of domestic work & childcare </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women juggled these dual roles and confronted spatial constraints </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Gender and the Workplace <ul><li>Are women unsuited to the skilled and relatively well-paid work? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women had weaker spines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women were too soft and afraid of getting hurt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women were too irrational for an occupation that requires logical & problem solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women had an innate aversion to machinery </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Gender and the Workplace <ul><li>These justifications rested on assumptions that it was logical and proper for the male head of the family to be the breadwinner and so well-paid jobs should be the preserve of men </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That women would be coarsened by working alongside men because they would be subject to swearing and the general sexist abuse and so would lose their femininity </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. Gender and the Workplace <ul><li>In a male-dominated and aggressive work environment, women need to appropriate masculine styles of behavior to be accepted in this space </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet they are constantly reminded of their sex by negative comments from male colleagues </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Streets of Fear <ul><li>Street violence: women are at most risk </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women are most fearful of sexual violence or assault by strangers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most women encounter more minor forms of harassment (verbal abuse, wolf whistling, flashing) </li></ul></ul>
  43. 43. Streets of fear <ul><li>In cases where women have been attacked in public space at night, the police and media have sometimes implied that they are to a certain degree responsible for their own fate and have warned other women to avoid putting themselves in similar situations of vulnerability </li></ul>