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To what degree is gender embodied? lecture 3. gendered bodies historical context essentialism and feminism is there a natural body? social constructionism.

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Presentation on theme: "To what degree is gender embodied? lecture 3. gendered bodies historical context essentialism and feminism is there a natural body? social constructionism."— Presentation transcript:

1 to what degree is gender embodied? lecture 3

2 gendered bodies historical context essentialism and feminism is there a natural body? social constructionism and bodies? mens bodies woman as body

3 gendered bodies women reclaim their bodies? disciplining and techniques of the body doing/disciplining bodies resist gendered bodily norms? final comments

4 historical context feminism, biology and sexual difference the (reproductive) body – is crucial to this debate what status does the body have in Western thought? Plato and somatophobia (Spelman 1982: 118) Cartesian dualism: mind/body – gendered split: men/culture women/nature

5 essentialism and feminism (1) (see e.g. Evans 1995; Fuss 1989; Moi in Kemp & Squires 1997 ) e.g. cultural feminism and ecofeminism - celebrate femaleness regard it as morally superior to maleness - invert patriarchal values – e.g. motherhood revalued? - women closer to nature belief in a given female nature – women's characteristics and qualities innate, static and universal

6 essentialism and feminism (2) (see Fuss in Kemp & Squires 1997: ) notion of female essence female voice – e.g. language is masculine – feminine language so women can express themselves in non- patriarchal way (e.g. Irigaray) feminist discourse and universal oppression of women – political project - draw on the idea of biological woman e.g. notion of sisterhood problematic – differences amongst women? belief in the real, true essences of things (Fuss 1989: xi)

7 is there a natural body? the natural or real body underlies gender woman or man is born not made but real femininity and womens bodies are repressed or unrepresentable in patriarchy? (e.g. Irigaray) womens bodily experiences – source of rich culture – essentialist?

8 social constructionism and bodies? other feminists keen to break the link between women and nature – sex/gender distinction (e.g. Oakley) One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman (de Beauvoir) natural socially produced focus on the production and organization of differences – dismiss the notion of a given nature that is pre-social bodies inscribed and shaped by social factors/meanings acknowledges cultural and social diversity - shift from singular body to plural bodies

9 3 main perspectives (see e.g. Pilcher & Whelehan 2004: 6-10; Davis 1997) 1.body as nature – biological material object 2.body as socially constructed – continuum? - sex/gender distinction – gender socialisation– gender mapped on to male and female bodies – body a blank slate (tabula rasa) waiting to be inscribed - critique of sex/gender distinction – is the body a coat - rack? - Butler – sex – socially constructed – gender performativity – discuss later in the course 3.embodiment – the lived body – we are bodies

10 mens bodies men seen as disembodied - mind reigns - men can transcend their bodies - male bodies not problematic – privileged position – marginalised groups - changing? - construction of masculinity (hegemonic) – physical bodily performance – injured? e.g. male labourers; high risk sports; war men seen as disembodied - mind reigns - men can transcend their bodies - male bodies not problematic – privileged position – marginalised groups - changing? - construction of masculinity (hegemonic) – physical bodily performance – injured? e.g. male labourers; high risk sports; war

11 woman as body (1) women historically associated more with nature and disordered (reproductive) bodies de Beauvoir – anatomy is not destiny body in trouble – (Moi in Hughes & Witz 1997) dualistic account of the female body - positive and negative? reproductive body - bodily-related crises - source of alienation?

12 woman as body (2) de Beauvoirs analysis is not gender-neutral reinforce patriarchal understanding of womens bodies as disgusting and repulsive? body as source of womans alienation – crises – do women have to reject their (reproductive) bodies to become free? cannot think beyond the body of woman … because she cannot think through it (Hughes & Witz 1997: 198)

13 women reclaim their bodies? womens bodies – source of oppression – victims? feminist body politics – challenge (male) medical expert knowledge/discourses female body – object of expert scrutiny reclaim control over their bodies e.g. womens health movement Our Bodies, Our Selves (1971)

14 techniques of the body (1934) Marcel Mauss (1973) Economy and Society, 2(1): Crossley, N (2005) Mapping Reflexive Body Techniques, Body & Society 11(1) ways in which from society to society men [sic] know how to use their bodies provides a detailed catalogue of a wide range of bodily techniques routine bodily movements and activities are socially controlled – biological preconditions? e.g. walking – assumes upright and bipedal bodily movements - acquired not natural - practical and embodied forms of knowledge and understanding

15 disciplining/techniques of the body techniques involve surveillance and discipline of our bodies in effort to fit with social norms – docile bodies – self-modification – body work (e.g. Foucault) disciplinary regimes/techniques - reinforce gender opposition/norms? e.g. hegemonic masculinity and emphasised femininity reflexive body techniques and different zones: core, intermediate and marginal – distinction? (e.g. see Crossley 2005) techniques involve surveillance and discipline of our bodies in effort to fit with social norms – docile bodies – self-modification – body work (e.g. Foucault) disciplinary regimes/techniques - reinforce gender opposition/norms? e.g. hegemonic masculinity and emphasised femininity reflexive body techniques and different zones: core, intermediate and marginal – distinction? (e.g. see Crossley 2005)

16 throwing like a girl (1) (e.g. Young 1990; Howson 2004) phenomenology and Merleau-Ponty - critique of Cartesian dualism (mind/body split) – being-in-the-world lived body- the body is not a object – we are our bodies Young questions Merleau-Pontys assumption of a neutral body gendered modalities - distinctive feminine bodily movement and use of space bodily timidity?

17 throwing like a girl (2) (Young 1990; Howson 2004) women less confident when using their bodies especially physically – less opportunities? imaginary space – restrict bodily movement? male gaze – disciplinary effect - self conscious – female body objectified? womens bodies -lived as a thing? feminine bodily existence – both subject and object?

18 doing/disciplining bodies doing gender means bodily doing, display, performance and conduct (e.g. West & Zimmerman; Goffman) e.g. gender embodiment and work/public contexts: e.g. Tyler & Abbott (1998) Chocs Away: make-up/weight (airline industry) – body work – panoptic management – gendered bodily work – not recognised as work – part of being a woman? e.g. Pink (1996) Breasts in the Bullring: female physiology, female bullfighters and competing femininities, Body and Society, 2(1): 45-64

19 resist gendered bodily norms? e.g. Mansfield & McGinn in Morgan (1993) pumping irony film – Pumping Iron II: The Women judging women body builders e.g. Bev Francis – well developed muscles – too masculine? transgress gendered embodiment norms? get feminine or get out of womens bodybuilding what constitutes a naturally feminine and masculine body? work on bodily physique – does nature become culture?

20 final comments are men becoming more embodied? - increasingly subject to disciplinary processes previously aimed at women? social constructionist accounts criticised for assuming that there is a natural sexed body on which gendered meanings are written is the body a tabula rasa (blank slate)? is it possible for the body not to be gendered? resist and challenge gendered embodiment? are womens bodies a problem to be gone beyond or something to think through?

21 next week key approaches to understanding gender cultural turn – shift from things to words homework!


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