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GENDER STUDIES

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Title: GENDER STUDIES


1
GENDER STUDIES
  • Gay/Lesbian Studies, Queer Theory

2
  • Critical practices that consider instability and
    indeterminacy as characteristic of discourse and
    subjectivity.
  • Theories that problematizes normal
    heterosexuality and valorise a variable,
    contingent, and multiple sexuality whose mobility
    and potentiality is signalled by the worlds of
    possibility opened up by gays and lesbians.

3
  • There is a close and natural affiliation between
    this and the previous section in that feminism
    posits the semiotic or pre-Symbolic Imaginary
    order as a realm of bisexual/androgynous/polymor
    phous sexuality prior to the subjects entry
    into the male-centred Symbolic order where, among
    other things, sexuality undergoes a process of
    normativization towards normal heterosexuality.
  • The problematization of sexuality contained in
    such theories as the semiotic or écriture
    féminine suggested a departure from a fixed,
    imposed binary heteronormativity (man/woman) in
    favor of the notion of sexuality as something
    that is constructed by such variables as social
    norms and exigencies, ideology, culture, history.

4
  • Foucaults declarations in The History of
    Sexuality (1976) that Homosexuality appeared as
    one of the forms of sexuality when it was
    transposed from the practice of sodomy to a kind
    of interior androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the
    soul.
  • The sodomite had been a temporary aberration the
    homosexual was now a species, inspired much of
    gay theory.

5
  • This section will deconstruct and explore the
    masculine/feminine binary supporting patriarchal
    assumptions about sexuality, gender and sex.
  • And as Barbara Smith, makes clear, academic
    inquiry into the nature of feminism and sexual
    identity cannot be disengaged from other
    contingencies such as race.

6
  • Gender designates the dynamic that accommodates a
    provisional, fluid identity in which biological
    (or genital) identity and socially constructed
    (or performed, according to leading theorist in
    gender studies, Judith Butler) masculinity or
    feminity need not concur (coincide)
  • There is no guarantee that what one is
    identified as being (biologically or culturally
    male or female) will line up in a predictable and
    necessary way with a particular set of sexual
    behaviours or psychological dispositions or
    social practices.

7
  • Studies that focus on gender also challenge
    essentializing feminist discourse and its
    proposition that (womens) gendered identities
    are real or natural or occupy a pre-social or
    pre-civilizational realm which lies in close bond
    with nature.
  • Judith Butler proposes gender be considered as a
    signifying practice we do or perform gender,
    relying on the repetition of words and acts.

8
  • Gay and lesbian studies have found common cause
    with the feminists as well as with gender
    theorists, gay and lesbian theory has trained its
    sights on gender formations as a whole, arguing
    that heterosexuality can be understood as
    forming a continuum with homosexuality since
    the male bonding that sutures patriarchy is
    necessarily homophilic and forms a continuum with
    homosexuality

9
  • Traditional gender or sexual binaries were
    unstable, variable and historically contingent
    (supeditado) (indeed, that everyone was
    potentially gay) pointed the way towards queer
    theory.

10
  • Queer, a heterosexist term of abuse designating
    homosexuals, was reclaimed by gay and lesbian
    militants as a self-referential term or token of
    pride to describe their marginal positionality
    with regard to the dominant heterosexist culture.
  • By the 1990s queer theory was operating as an
    expression and exploration of sexual plurality
    and gender ambivalence in the field of cultural
    production.

11
  • Analytic inquiry was no longer or not only-
    limited to gay and lesbian orthodoxies or fixed
    sexualities.
  • Broadened to consider alternative sexualities
    such as drag (queens) or camp, cross-dressing or
    transvestism which in turn, through their
    representational or performative nature, uphold
    the non-biological nature of gender construction.
    Camp Exaggerated effeminate mannerisms exhibited
    especially by homosexuals.

12
  • Throughout, queer scholars have pushed the
    argument that hetero- and homosexuality operate
    on the same continuum on which the point
    demarcating normativity from non-normativity is
    variable and contingent(dependiente).
  • The intersection among gender, gay/lesbian and
    queer theories, and that of these theories with
    New Historicism, cultural studies and feminist
    theories underline the interdisciplinary nature
    of poststructuralist critical theory.

13
  • In the late 1960s, gay and lesbian scholars
    silent regarding their sexuality or the presence
    of homosexual themes in literature began to
    speak.
  • Their work brings into being a new school of
    gender theory in the 1980s.
  • Gender critics, inspired by Foucaults work on
    the history of sexuality, began to study gender
    and sexuality as discursive and historical
    institutions.

14
  • Gender Theory and Gay/Lesbian Studies,Queer
    Theory- which linked gay/lesbian scholarship to
    such public concerns as HIV/AIDS.
  • Gender and gay/lesbian theorists are concerned
    with unearthing a hidden tradition of homosexual
    writing and with examining the gender dynamics of
    canonical literature.

15
  • The building of a counter-tradition is difficult.
    There have been many gay writers from Sappho to
    Tennessee Williams- but few of them wrote openly
    about their lives and experiences.
  • Heterosexual culture was intolerant of gay
    perspectives women were put in the attic for
    being mad, gays were put in jail for being
    perverse.
  • Wilde is the most famous example, but Elizabeth
    Bishop and Henry James who remained in the
    closet were more common.

16
  • Much gay/lesbian work is concerned with tradition
    building, but gay critics also interrogate the
    very notion of sexual identity and question the
    logic of gender categorization.
  • They question the relation of gender categories
    to sexuality and physiology.
  • The relation of such categories as masculine and
    feminine to such stable bodily and psychological
    identities as male and female or man and woman is
    contingent (depending) and historical.

17
  • The normative alignment of male and female with
    heterosexual masculinity or femininity in the
    dominant gender culture must be seen as a
    political rather than a biological fact.
  • They question the opposition between heterosexual
    and homosexual, interrogating the identity of
    each and the hierarchical relation (mainstream
    and margin) between the two they are
    differentially connected moments of a continuum
    that includes numerous other possible variations.

18
THEY QUESTION THE OPPOSITION BETWEEN HETEROSEXUAL
AND HOMOSEXUAL A CONTINUUM
  • Heterosexuality contains a moment of
    homosexuality, when the child identifies with the
    parent of the same sex, or when heterosexual men
    relate to each other while competing over women,
    and homosexuality comprises both masculinity and
    femininity, in mixed and variable amounts.

19
  • The dominant discourses assume that there are
    stable identities such as masculine and feminine
    or man and woman or heterosexual and homosexual,
    that give rise to the discourses that describe
    them.
  • But such identities are produced by discourse and
    by cultural representation.

20
  • The alignment of dominant discourse with
    stable identities as in compulsory
    heterosexuality- is the result of a politically
    enforced naturalization of a particular form of
    sexuality that comes through constant repetition
    and rote learning (Memorización).

21
NORMATIVELY
  • Heterosexual men are masculine and heterosexual
    women are feminine because the reigning cultural
    discourses instruct them in behavior appropriate
    to the dominant gender representations and norms,
    stigmatizing non-normative behavior.
  • The identities of male or female and the norms of
    reproductive sexuality are effects of enforcement
    procedures that operate through cultural and
    legal discourse, privileging certain object
    choices and psychological dispositions while
    denigrating others.

22
  • Gender identities as woman are not
    pre-discursive foundations but normalizing
    injunctions (mandates) produced by discursive
    performances
  • Continuities between a variety of sexual
    practices across a variety of possible gender
    formulations (masculine lesbian, masculine
    heterosexual woman, feminine gay man, feminine
    heterosexual man, etc.) are erased and subsumed
    to enforced norms of oppositional identity
    (either masculine heterosexual or feminine
    heterosexual, either heterosexual or homosexual).

23
  • Connected, related terms are displaced in favor
    of essential, total identities.
  • vs
  • They substitute an entire representation
    lesbian- for a plurality of connected gender and
    sexual possibilities that might include lesbian
    as one moment but that are not fully reducible to
    such categorical singularity.

24
  • Lesbian is internally differentiated into a
    plurality of possibilities (varieties of
    feminine, varieties of masculine, etc.) and
    externally differentiated through its connection
    to or disconnection from a plurality of other
    possibilities.
  • It is not a singular totality that stands opposed
    to another singular totality the normative
    heterosexual woman, for example, who in any event
    generally engages in relations that contain
    homosexual components, as do men with men.

25
GENDER STUDIES ALSO EXAMINES THE STRUCTURES OF
MALE HETEROSEXUAL OPPRESSION.
  • Both cultural and social, that have contributed
    to the marginalization and exclusion of
    homosexuality.
  • The more rigorous forms of heterosexual
    masculinity originate in sexual panic, a fear or
    anxiety in heterosexual men regarding their
    sexual identities.

26
THE CULTURAL AND SOCIAL VIOLENCE EXERCISED
AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS ORIGINATES
  • From the instability of heterosexual identity, a
    fear that such identity may be a
    contingent/dependant construct that serves as a
    defense against a potentially overwhelming
    reality of diverse sexual choices and identity
    possibilities that exist simultaneously in the
    self and in society.

27
  • Gender Studies has analyzed the repressed
    homosocial strains that motivate the
    heterosexual traditions construction of
    compulsory heterosexuality and normative
    masculinity.
  • One of the most interesting and subversive
    approaches to develop out of gay/lesbian and
    gender theory Queer Theory- pushes this point
    even further.
  • Homosexuality is not an identity apart from
    heterosexuality. Everyone is potentially gay, and
    only the imprinting of heterosexual norms cuts
    away those potentials and manufactures
    heterosexuality as the dominant sexual format.

28
  • Suppressed homosexuality is queered into being in
    the various kinds of homophilia central to
    heterosexual culture, from football to film star
    identification.
  • Sexual transitivity is silenced for the sake of
    the labor of large-scale species reproduction,
    but in the realms of cultural play, the excess of
    desire and identification over norm and rule
    testify to more plural potentials.

29
ADRIENNE RICH (1929)
  • Poet, major voice in American feminist since the
    late 1960s. She has explored the ways in which
    patriarchal society oppresses women and the ways
    in which women have responded to that oppression.
  • Her analysis of compulsory heterosexuality is
    her most lasting contribution to literary and
    social theory, wide range of topics, from the
    silencing of womens voices to the history of
    childbirth and motherhood.

30
  • Like Elaine Showalter and Susan Bordo, Rich links
    patriarchal oppression to power exerted directly
    (and often violently) on womens bodies.
  • Her concern with the psychic and social supports
    of sexual identity also links her work to the
    queer theory of Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky
    Sedgwick.

31
  • Increasingly identified with the womens movement
    throughout the 1970s, composing poetry with
    feminist themes but also for the first time
    writing prose.
  • By the mid-1970s she was openly lesbian, and she
    was exploring all aspects of what she calls
    lesbian experience.
  • Her work in the 1980s and 1990s also included new
    attempts to connect to her Jewishness, her family
    and the poetic tradition.

32
COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY AND LESBIAN
EXPERIENCE (1980)
  • This essay has been widely influential. It marked
    the end of sisterhood feminism, the assumption
    that all women were sisters in their shared
    oppression.
  • She highlights the presence of both lesbians and
    heterosexual women in the feminist movement and
    calls on feminism to acknowledge its fear of
    lesbians.
  • As those hostile to feminism often dismiss it as
    the complaints of a small group of lesbians.

33
  • Many 1970s feminists went out of their way to
    prove their heterosexuality.
  • Lesbians and lesbian experience became
    practically taboo within the movement (except in
    its more radical branches).
  • Her essay, along with the feminist work of women
    of color and of working-class women, challenged a
    feminism that claimed to speak for all women yet
    assumed the viewpoint of a heterosexual,
    middle-class white woman.

34
  • Much of the feminist work of the 1980s was
    devoted to considering the ramifications of these
    differences (of race, class, and sexual
    orientation) for the category woman and to
    attending to how such differences would
    strengthen or weaken feminist activism.

35
  • Richs main purpose is to consider the extent to
    which heterosexual desire and identity are
    fundamental to womens oppression.
  • Heterosexuality is not natural but social, and it
    should be analyzed as any social institution.
  • How is heterosexuality established and
    maintained? What groups resist it? What
    alternatives must be suppressed for it to
    prevail? Who benefits from and who is harmed by
    this institutions dominance? What forms of
    enforcement underwrite the dominance?

36
  • Heterosexuality is compulsory because only
    partners of the opposite sex are deemed
    appropriate, all same-sex desire must be denied
    or indulged in secret, and various kinds of
    same-sex bonding (including friendships) are
    viewed with suspicion.
  • Compulsory heterosexuality ensures that women are
    sexually accessible to men, with consent or
    choice on the womens part neither legally nor
    practically taken into account.

37
  • Compulsory heterosexuality is an institution that
    punishes those who are not heterosexual and
    systematically ensures the power of men over
    women.

38
IN THE ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY, KATHLEEN GOUGH LISTS
8 CHARACTERISTICS OF MALE POWER IN ARCHAIC AND
CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES
  • deny women their sexuality(clitoridectomy and
    infibulation)
  • force it upon them (rape, wife beating,
    father-daughter incest)
  • command and exploit their labour to control their
    produce (marriage and motherhood as unpaid
    production, male control of abortion,
    contraception, etc)
  • control or rob them of their children (seizure of
    children from lesbian mothers)

39
  • confine them physically and prevent their
    movement (rape as terrorism, purdah, foot
    binding, veil)
  • use of them as objects in male transactions
    (arranged marriages, call-girls, geisha)
  • cramp their creativeness (witch and female
    healers prosecutions, erasure of female
    tradition)
  • keep them from large areas of knowledge and
    culture (non-education of females).

40
CATHARINE MACKINNON IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF
WORKING WOMEN
  • argued that sexual harassment is a form of sex
    discrimination because the act reinforces the
    social inequality of women to men.
  • She said women are horizontally segregated by
    gender and occupy an inferior position in the
    workplace.

41
Kathleen Barry
  • describes all the enforced conditions under which
    women live subject to men
  • prostitution, marital rape, father-daughter and
    brother-sister incest, wife beating, pornography,
    bride price, selling of daughters, genital
    mutilation, and purdah.
  • Women are expendable as long as the sexual and
    emotional needs of the male can be satisfied.
    Women are sexual being whose responsibility is
    the sexual service of men.

42
  • As compulsory sexuality is central to preserving
    the inequality between men and women, Rich argues
    that the issue feminists have to address is not
    simple gender inequality nor the domination of
    culture by males nor mere taboos against
    homosexuality, but the enforcement of
    heterosexuality for women as a means of assuring
    male right of physical, economic, and emotional
    access.
  • Feminism cannot truly comprehend the sources and
    system of inequality if it does not analyze the
    institution of compulsory heterosexuality.

43
THREE TOPICS IN ADRIENNE RICH COMPULSORY
HETEROSEXUALITY ESSAY HAVE BEEN ESPECIALLY
IMPORTANT FOR FEMINIST LITERARY THEORY
  • 1- Sexualized relations of power within
    institutions women face the trials experienced
    by all subordinates in hierarchical institutions
    and they must also present themselves as
    attractive according to dominant standards of
    heterosexual desirability and be concerned with
    sexuality in the appropriate ways (e.g., be
    flirtatious within the proper bounds, be
    supportive of male superiors).
  • Such expectations, rarely conscious, even more
    rarely explicit, permeate public male-female
    relationships. They form part of a larger
    unwritten set of rules about the relative
    positions of men and women in society.

44
  • 2. Lesbian experience and the lesbian continuum-
    challenges the notion that women need men by
    calling attention to all the ways in which women
    interact with one another, all the activities
    central to their lives that do not involve
    connection to a man.
  • She wants to highlight how hostile to and
    threatened by womens independent action
    patriarchal society is and the prevalence of such
    action despite the price paid for it.
  • The lesbian continuum includes a variety of
    relationships between and among women, ranging
    from the sharing of a rich inner life, the
    bonding against male tyranny, to the giving and
    receiving of practical and political support.
  • By desexualizing the term lesbian, Rich calls our
    attention to the variety of bonds formed between
    women and to the various functions those bonds
    play in womens lives. Lesbian existence
    comprises both the breaking of a taboo and of a
    compulsory way of life.

45
  • Questions of sexual identity How is sexual
    identity formed?
  • Through what processes of psychic identification
    does a self form heterosexual and/or homosexual
    desires?
  • Rich is more suspicious if psychoanalytic
    understandings of these processes than are many
    queer theorists but she recognizes that the law
    of compulsory heterosexuality plays a crucial
    role in the formation of selves, even as she
    notes that the early bond of the girl baby with
    her mother works against the injunction to be
    heterosexual.

46
  • The notion of the lesbian continuum recognizes
    that sexuality comes in many forms and results in
    many different behaviors a variety badly
    captured by the simple dichotomy
    homosexual/heterosexual.
  • Two lies sustain compulsory heterosexuality
    women are inevitably drawn to men and women turn
    to women out of hatred for men.

47
  • Desire is neither unitary nor fixed once for
    all. Women especially suffer in a heterosexual
    regime that ignores the fluidity of desire in
    favor of channeling that desire toward
    heterosexual unions in which the needs of the
    male are primary.
  • Adrienne Rich

48
BARBARA SMITH (1946)
  • A pioneer of black feminist and lesbian
    criticism.
  • Despite the achievements of the womens
    liberation movement and the civil rights movement
    during the 1960s, the feminist movement seemed to
    speak primarily from the perspective of white,
    middle-class, heterosexual women, and the civil
    rights movement for black men.

49
  • In Toward a Black Feminist Criticism she says
    All segments of the literary world do not know
    that Black women writers and Black lesbian
    writers exist,
  • Smith assumed the task of establishing a
    tradition of black womens writing and a
    specifically black feminist and lesbian criticism.

50
  • The 1970s were a rich time for black womens
    writing, with the beginning of the careers of a
    generation of writers like Toni Morrison, Toni
    Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and June
    Jordan the formation of organizations which
    provided an alternative to mainstream feminism
    and the recovery of early writers.

51
  • This renaissance of black womens literature
    inspired the black womens liberation movement.
  • Its members agreed that women of colour
    experience oppressions different from those of
    white women and black men, because of their race,
    sex, sexuality, and economic status.
  • They were committed to the liberation of black
    women from racism, sexism, heterosexism, and
    classicism in culture as well as politics.

52
TOWARD A BLACK FEMINIST CRITICISM
(1977)
  • She points out the absence of scholarship on
    black womens writing, which she links to black
    womens invisibility in the mainstream feminist
    movement.
  • Feminist initially emphasized the universality of
    womens experiences and the bond forged by their
    differences from men.

53
  • To correct the limitations of this universalizing
    assumption, Smith calls for a redefinition of the
    goals of the womens movement and for an
    autonomous black feminist movement.
  • Smith shows evidence of black womens
    invisibility. Both black and white male critics
    ignore or denigrate black womens literary
    accomplishments, and even some feminists omitted
    women writers of color from the studies they
    published in the 1970s.

54
SMITH ENUMERATES PRINCIPLES FOR A BLACK
FEMINIST APPROACH, A BLACK FEMINIST CRITIC
SHOULD
  • Explore both sexual and racial politics in black
    womens writing
  • Assume that there is an identifiable literary
    tradition
  • Decipher the common themes, motifs, and concepts
    in black womens literature that derive from
    writers political, social, and economic
    experiences

55
  • Examine the specific black female language in
    this literature
  • Demonstrate an existing tradition of Black
    womens art
  • Try to be innovative and daring, following the
    model of black womens literature.
  • Assert the political implications of a literary
    work and its connections to the situation of
    black women.

56
  • Smith devotes a substantial portion of the essay
    to a reading of Toni Morrisons novel Sula (1973)
    from the perspective of black lesbian feminism,
    focusing on the relationships between women.
  • It is a pioneering analysis of the novel, though
    some criticized what they saw as a fabrication of
    lesbian themes.

57
  • However, Smith notes that Morrison did not intend
    to view the relationship between the two main
    characters, Sula and Nel, as lesbian, and that
    her reading of the lesbian connotations in their
    relationship exemplifies how a black lesbian
    feminist perspective might deepen our
    understanding of the nuances and political
    possibilities of a text.

58
  • She provided a model for later writers who
    stressed the differences among women.
  • A key debate in feminism has concerned
    essentialism, with most feminists opposing the
    view that gender, ethnic, and racial identities
    are determined by biological essences rather than
    by cultural differences.
  • Some have criticized Smiths insistence on a
    separate literature and criticism for black women
    as essentialist.

59
  • She has dismissed it as a narrow academic debate,
    arguing that she shares an objective political
    status with other Black females in this country
    not altered by economic or educational
    variables.
  • Toward a Black Feminist Criticism is intended
    as a consciousness-raising piece to call
    attention to the common ground black women share.

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