Gender _ Sexuality as History by gjjur4356


									Gender & Sexuality as History
   Three important “positions’ in the
    academy on gender/sexuality as
• Origins of patriarchy
• Historical materialism and social organization
• The social production & social psychology of
  “subject positions”
  – Post-structuralism – practice theory
      • Centrality of language
  – Psychological – early childhood experiences (Freud &
      • Early stages of child development & formation of gender
  – Both structure & agency approaches
     universals versus particulars
• universal subordination of women is often
  cited as one of the true cross-cultural
  universals, a pan-cultural fact
  – Engels called it the “world historical defeat of
• even so the particulars of women’s roles,
  statuses, power, and value differ
  tremendously by culture
                    F. Engels
• theory of the origin of female subordination
• tied to the male control of wealth
• built on 19th cent. assumption of communal
  societies as matrilineal
• men overthrew matrilineality & formed patriarchal
  family leading to monogamous family
• differential ownership of wealth led to inequality
  within the family & thus between the sexes
• gender differences arose from technological
  developments that led to changes in relations of
    Friedl and Leacock argument
• variation among foragers
• male dominance is based on exchange, public
• versus that exchanged privately by women
• Exchange of scarce resources in egalitarian
  societies, gender stratification, and universal
  subordination of women
     E. Leacock - (expands on Engels)
• subjugation of women due to breakdown of
  communal ownership of property & isolation of
  individual family as economic unit
• transformation of relations of production
   – Association of female labor with domestic unit or private
• male production directed towards distribution
  outside the domestic group (public sphere)
• occurs with development of private property & class
                   K. Sacks
• political power that results from the ability to
  give & receive goods in exchange
• allows for sexual stratification in non-class
           Friedl and Leacock
• not rights & control over production but rights
  of distribution & control over channels of
  distribution critical for gender stratification
             Sanday Reeves
• female status dependent on degree to which
  men & women participate in activities of
  reproduction, warfare, subsistence
 Production, Reproduction and Social
• roles - those minimal institutions and modes
  of activity that are organized immediately
  around one or more mothers and their
• women everywhere lactate & give birth to
• likely to be associated with child rearing &
  responsibilities of the home
a long running controversy in anthropology

• Sherry Ortner’s famous article “Is Female to
  Male as Nature is to Culture”
• argument is that across cultures, women are
  more often associated with nature and the
  natural and are therefore denigrated
• Ortner - in reality women are no further nor
  closer to nature than men - cultural valuations
  make women appear closer to nature than
• opposition between domestic (reproduction) &
  public (production) provides the basis of a
  framework necessary to identify and explore the
  place of male & female in psycho, cultural, social
  and economic aspects of life
• degree to which the contrast between public
  domestic (private) sphere is drawn promotes
  gender stratification-rewards, prestige, power
  persistence of dualisms in ideologies of
• a particular view of men and women as
  opposite kinds of creatures both biologically
  and culturally
• nature/culture
• domestic/public
• reproduction/production
            The “Third Gender”
• essentialism of western ideas of sexual dimorphism -
  dichotomized into natural & then moral entities of
  male & female that are given to all persons, one or
  the other
• committed western view of sex and gender as
  dichotomous, ascribed, unchanging
• other categories - every society including our own is
  at some time or other faced with people who do not
  fit into its sex & gender categories
           The “Third Gender”
• a significant number of people are born with
  genitalia that is neither clearly male or female
  – Hermaphrodites
• persons who change their biological sex
• persons who exhibit behavior deemed
  appropriate for the opposite sex
• persons who take on other gender roles other
  than those indicated by their genitals
                                    Third Genders
transsexual – gender/ sex incongruent, “trapped in
wrong body” but with the gender identity of their
organs/sex change operation
 transvestite – dressing as other gender, biological
sex (cross-dresser)
 homosexual
 bisexual
 eunuch – castrated male
 hermaphrodite – both sets of biological organs
             Third Gender: Western Bias
• multiple cultural & historical worlds in which people of
  divergent gender & sexual desire exist
   – margins or borders of society
• may pass as normal to remain hidden in the official
  ideology & everyday commerce of social life
• when discovered - iconic matter out of place - "monsters
  of the cultural imagination“
• third gender as sexual deviance a common theme in US
   – evolution & religious doctrine
   – heterosexuality the highest form, the most moral way of life, its
     Third Gender Cross-Culturally
• provokes us to reexamine our own assumptions
  regarding our gender system
• emphasizes gender role alternatives as
  adaptations to economic and political conditions
  rather than as "deviant" and idiosyncratic
• rigid dichotomozation of genders is a means of
  perpetuating the domination of females by
  males and patriarchal institutions.
• Ardener - muted models that underlie male
• diversity of one life or many lives
• gender roles, stereotypes, stratification
  – changes over time
  – changes with position in lifecycle
  – status of men & women i.e. in male dominant
     • decision making roles belong to men but as women
       reach menopause; change with marriage status, virgins,
       wives, widows (and men)
• women, like men, are social actors who work in
  structured ways to achieve desired ends
• formal authority structure of a society may declare
  that women are impotent & irrelevant
• but attention to women's strategies & motives, sorts
  of choices, relationships established, ends achieved
  indicates women have good deal of power
• strategies appear deviant & disruptive
   – actual components of how social life proceeds
      POSITIONS (subjectivity)
• Language is intro of child to symbolic order
• Through language gendered identity is
• Words (rules) of social interaction are
• Conflict exists – from repression to oppression
          Discourse, Subjectivity, Power
• Discourses
   –   Ways of talking about the world
   –   a system of representation
   –   Codes and conventions
   –   rules and practices that produced meaningful statements and
       regulated discourse in different historical periods
• about language and practice
• Discourse is "a group of statements which provide a
  language for talking about ...a particular topic at a
  particular historical moment."
• "Discourse, Foucault argues, “constructs the topic. It
  defines and produces the objects of our knowledge. It
  governs the way that a topic can be meaningfully talked
  about and reasoned about.”
        Discourse, Subjectivity, Power
• Discourse -- the bearer of various subject positions
• Subject positions -- specific positions of agency and
  identity in relation to particular forms of knowledge and
• Subjectivity --produced within discourse, subjected to
• subject position--[for us to become the subject of a
  particular discourse, and thus the bearers of its
  power/knowledge] we must locate ourselves in the
  position from which the discourse makes most sense, and
  thus become its 'subjects' by subjecting' ourselves to its
  meanings, power and regulation.
     Discourse, Subjectivity, Power
• power follows from our casual acceptance of the
  "reality with which we are presented"
• Power: a field of possibilities in which several ways
  of behaving, several reactions and diverse
  comportments may be realized
• the totality of practices, by which one can
  constitute, define, organize, instrumentalize the
  strategies which individuals in their liberty can have
  in regard to each other
      Discourse, Gender, Power
• sexuality and the body -- sites of power and
• socially imposed structures that objectified
  sexual identity and gender differences
• socially imposed structures that shape gender
  relations and behavior
            The “Four Bodies”
•   Individual body
•   The social body
•   The body politic
•   The mindful body
          The Individual Body
• lived experience of the body-self, body, mind,
  matter, psyche, soul
             The Social Body
• representational uses of the body as a natural
  symbol with which to think about nature,
  society, culture
              The Body Politic
• regulation, surveillance, & control of bodies
  (individual & collective) in reproduction &
  sexuality, in work & leisure, in sickness & other
  forms of deviance
            The Mindful Body
• the most immediate, the proximate terrain
  where social truths and social contradictions
  are played out
• a locus of personal and social resistance,
  creativity, and struggle
• emotions form the mediatrix between the
  individual, social and political body, unified
  through the concept of the 'mindful body.'
             Michelle Rosaldo
• “It now appears to me that women’s (and
  men’s, and any other gender identity that
  exists; my addition) place in social life is not in
  any direct sense the product of the things she
  does, but the meaning (culture) her activities
  acquire through social interaction (society).”
• A structure-agency issue – deal with the
  individual subject in the context of social
         Joan Scott’s approach
• Gender is a constitutive element of social
  relationships based on perceived differences
  between the sexes
• Gender is a primary way of signifying relations
  of power
  – The patriarchy question answered in part
• “It is not sexuality which haunts society, but
  society which haunts the body’s sexuality” (M.

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