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Global Issues in Gender and Sex Week 3

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Lucy Nicholas

on 15 March 2018

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Transcript of Global Issues in Gender and Sex Week 3

Symbolic Interactioism
Charles Cooley 'Human Nature and the Social Order' 1902, idea of "the looking glass self"

George Herbert Mead, 'Mind, Self and Society' 1934, idea of the ‘generalized other’.

‘Mental processes become neither wholly interior nor wholly exterior’ (Jenkins 2008, p.59)
The Formation of Subjectivity
Two extreme positions:

Common Sense: a 'true', autonomous self

essential self? upbringing / socialisation has no impact?

completely determined by outside forces, e.g. Althusser's structuralist idea of 'Institutional State Apparatus', completely 'subjected'

no creativity by individual? ALL just socialisation?
The Male Gaze
Laura Mulvey ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ 1973

‘In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly.’ (Mulvey 1999 [1973], p. 837)

Influenced by psychoanalysis

Women's only choice is to become
exhibitionist of male fantasy woman
characteristics of objectification
2.Denial of autonomy
3.Inertness (lacking agency)
4.Fungibility (being interchangeable)
7.Denial of subjectivity

But the key is instrumentality. Objectification is happening when someone is treated ‘primarily or merely as an instrument’ (Nussbaum 1998, p.436)
Example: Korean comfort women WWII

(first video in full)

(second from 1.20 min)

According to Dworkin and MacKinnon instrumentality seems to lead to further dehumanisation and brutality:

‘from this one denial, other forms of objectification that are not logically entailed by the first seem to follow’ (Nussbaum 1998, p.435)
Week 3: Constructing and deconstructing

Aims of Week
To consider classic sociological theories of how sense of self (or ‘subjectivity’), and in particular women’s sense of gender, develops.

To get an overview of feminist thought from Beauvoir to today

To consider women and cultural representation of femininity

To critically engage with some commonly used concepts for analysing the role of women, femininity, and women’s sexuality in the cultural terrain, including objectification and ‘the gaze’.

To consider if these analyses can apply to ‘other’ cultural contexts.

To consider how other aspects of identity intersect with gender and create more complex positions for different women in societies.

To consider some of the ways that dominant Anglo feminist discourses are culturally specific and reductive of complexity
Axes of Othering: Gender, Ethnicity and Intersectionality
Sex and the City 2: Autonomy and Liberation for all women?

The Racialised Gaze:

Ethnic othering, domination and gender
Images of Algerian women by French Colonists from Marina Warner’s 'Monuments and Maidens' (New York: Atheneum, 1985: 331)
Simone de Beauvoir, Woman as 'Other'
'He is the Subject, he is the Absolute -she is the Other.' (Beauvoir 1997 [1949], p. 16)

'Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought' (Beauvoir 1997 [1949], p. 17)

Alterity = the state of being the other, otherness.

Beauvoir in The Second Sex, formulates women and men as separate castes

Also discusses the complicity of women who 'forgo liberty and become a thing' (Beauvoir 1997 [1949], p. 21)

('Ways of Seeing' video )
Objectification and Second Wave Feminism
Key Figures: Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon

‘treating as an object what is really not an object, what is, in fact, a human being.’ (Nussbaum 1998, p.424)

related this to domination over and violence against women ‘tracing the prevalence of sex abuse and sadistic violence to the initial act of denying autonomy and end-like status.’ (Nussbaum 1998, p. 437).
Dr Carl Davila claims this demonstrates the flexing of colonial power through the sexualising of the female other (http://www.global-workforce.globalization101.org/gender-and-globalization/).
Edward Said , 'Orientalism'

Orientalism as an impulse by Europe since the late C18th / early C19th, since Napoleonic invasion of Egypt 1798:

'with Napoleon's occupation of Egypt, processes were set in motion between East and West that still dominate our contemporary cultural and political perspectives' (Said, p.42)

A way of thinking about 'not us' in a homogenizing, hierarchical, and oppositional way:

'There are Westerners, and there are Orientals. The former dominate; the latter must be dominated' (Said year, p.36)
Orientalism 2
'Can one
human reality, as indeed human reality seems to be genuinely divided, into clearly different cultures, histories, traditions, societies, even races, and survive the consequences humanly? By surviving the consequences humanly, I mean to ask whether there is any way of avoiding the
expressed by the division, say, of men into "
" (Westerners) and "
" (Orientals). For such divisions are
whose use historically and actually has been to impress the importance of the
between some men and some other men, usually towards not especially admirable ends. When one uses
like Oriental and Western as both the starting points of analysis, research, public policy...the result is usually to
the distinction - the Oriental becomes more Oriental, the Westerner more Western - and limit the human encounter between different cultures, tradtions and societies.' (Said, p.45-46)
Sex and the City 2 and Orientalism
Homogenisation, generalising, Fungibility (being interchangeable):

e.g. Burqa / Niqab / Hijab
"I am Woman, Hear me Roar"?
Intersectionality and 'Shadeism'
'an inclusive view of women's position should substantively acknowledge the intersections of gender with other significant social identities, most notably race' (Shields 2008, pp.302-303)
e.g. Scharff 2011, 'Disarticulating Feminism: Individualization, neoliberalism and the othering of "Muslim Women"'
A Few Issues:
Intersectionality does not just = quantitative multiplication of disadvantage / oppression, but

"the very meaning of manhood may vary when applied to one's own racial group as compared to another group; similarly the meaning of a given racial category may vary for men and women" (Mullings and Schulz 2006, p.5 in Sheilds 2008, p.303)

Also, there is a complex relationship b/w the 'local' and 'traditional' and the global.
(Second Wave) Political Strategies
Feminist Consciousness Raising (CR)
Liberating Women from their patriarchally defined consciousnesses
(Second Wave) Political Strategies
Separatism and Political Lesbianism
The 'Third Wave' of Feminism
Critiques of 2nd wave by women of colour
Diversity of women
Focus on empowerment
e.g. Riot Grrrl, Girl-Power
A bit straight?
Some Third-Wave Strategies

: is it possible to undermine dominant / patriarchal readings? Will attempts at empowerment always be
NB: The 'Third-Wave is a diverse term and can't really be reduced / defined to one trajectory
Also consciousness-raising, but with a more complex message and different understanding of structure / agency...
These feminist trajectories are v much those of the global north, esp USA...... (and we will return to feminist strategies in the global south from week 6 onwards)

Back to objectification, lets get down to the details of this concept and then consider some other aspects of identity....

Can individual resistance challenge a dominant reading / gaze??
e.g. double eyelid surgery
The totalizing and dismissive assumption that Asian women who elect such surgery obviously desire to look/be Western has seemed too readily to essentialize Asians as degraded imitations and mimics...Labeling Asian surgical clients as mere victims of internalized racism resulting from their enthrallment with the patriarchal gaze of Western cultural imperialism seems to further a divide between enlightened or true feminists and these 'other' less privileged 'natives.'"Zane (2011), 'Reflections on a yellow eye' in Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age
What makes these feminine?
Some third wave approaches are critiqued for being "choice" feminism, and "encouraging women to embrace the opportunities they have in life and to see the choices they make as justified and always politically acceptable ... Choice feminism also encourages neoliberal values of individualism and consumerism, while downplaying the need for political and collective action against systematic inequalities. " Thwaites 2016,
Feminist Theory
A Fourth Wave?

A renewed interest in opposing sexual harrassment and violence and use of social media, e.g. #metoo

Queer Feminism and analyses beyond structure / agency,
e.g. Hannah McCann (2017)

'how can we consider femininity in a way
that best attends to people's experiences of,
and attachment to, feminine styles?... [my
reading] seeks to recover the potential value of femininity for some, without recourse to the language of empowerment or neoliberal individual "choice"'
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