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to what degree is gender embodied?

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Presentation on theme: "to what degree is gender embodied?"— 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? men’s 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
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: 250-251)
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 women’s bodies are repressed or unrepresentable in patriarchy? (e.g. Irigaray) women’s 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
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 men’s 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

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 de Beauvoir’s analysis is not gender-neutral
‘woman as body’ (2) de Beauvoir’s analysis is not gender-neutral reinforce patriarchal understanding of women’s bodies as disgusting and repulsive? body as source of woman’s 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?
women’s 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. women’s 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)

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-Ponty’s 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? women’s 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
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 women’s 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 women’s 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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