Gender Questions - Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014
Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 1 –2 (2014)More Less
On 24 March 2014 we celebrated the first volume of Gender Questions with a launch that took place in Kgorong. This well-attended event included addresses by Prof Moeketsi, the Executive Dean of the College of Human Sciences, as well as Prof Labuschagne, the Executive Director of Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa. All the speakers acknowledged the challenges involved in launching a new journal, and they were impressed by the intellectual rigour and the assortment of topics that characterised the first volume.
Author Gerald GroenewaldSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 3 –11 (2014)More Less
Elizabeth H. Pleck is one of the foremost historians of gender and family history in the United States. She studied at Brandeis University in Massachusetts where in 1973 she graduated with a PhD in the History of American Civilization. Subsequently, she held teaching and research positions at the University of Michigan and Wellesley College, before moving to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 1990s. She held a dual appointment there, becoming Professor in the Department of Human and Community Development in 2000 and Professor of History in 2001. Professor Pleck has won numerous awards for her innovative and outstanding teaching, and has been a visiting lecturer at several universities. Her career as a researcher has been equally distinguished. Since 1979 she has published six monographs with important presses and co-edited a further six books, including a textbook on women's history. Many of her more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters have been reprinted and anthologised. A hallmark of her career has been linking activism, teaching and writing. Not only has she served as a consultant on numerous projects and initiatives aimed at establishing greater awareness of gender and family issues, but she has also actively endeavoured to take the insights from academic history to a broader public. Many of her publications were co-authored with others, including such distinguished historians as Nancy F. Cott and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, but also with colleagues from other disciplines. A pioneer of many new topics in the field of gender and family history, Professor Pleck is particularly keen to reach wider audiences. For this reason she agreed to be interviewed for Gender Questions while a Fulbright Visiting Professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2014. At the end of the interview Professor Pleck provides a short annotated bibliography for readers interested in exploring some of the new developments in the field of gender and family history.
Fade to white or stereotype : patriarchal policing of gender norms in television and filmic representations of childbirthAuthor Jeffrey Allen NallSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 12 –34 (2014)More Less
Drawing on the examination of five feature films, including Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, and more than half-a-dozen popular television programmes, including Parenthood, The L Word and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, this work argues that dominant cultural representations foster a narrow and potentially damaging, disempowering and dehumanising depiction of childbirth. Together these works foster a dominant conceptualisation and representation of childbirth that narrowly represents childbirth, emphasising themes including 'bitter birth' or birth as affliction, a reproductive double bind affirming women's fundamental procreative role while also pathologising their reproductive processes, and the trivialisation of women's birthing agency through the broad failure to recognize maternal magnificence. This work further argues that dominant representations of maternity pervading mass media, as indicated in the examined examples, normalise patriarchal gender roles, particularly emphasised femininity, and mark gender noncomformists as deviant. The promotion of such norms is clear in contemporary cultural depictions of childbirth, including birth-related hit films such as Knocked Up and The Back-up Plan. In the last of these an important component of patriarchal gender codes is further shown to include heteronormativity.
Author Zita FarkasSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 35 –51 (2014)More Less
Some literary works are particularly open to and 'invite' (Belsey 2005, p. 163) lesbian and queer interpretations. Jeanette Winterson's work has proved particularly fertile for these interpretations, even as it has initiated a reappraisal of the categories of lesbian identity and fiction. The reception that has greeted Winterson's work illustrates how debates on lesbian identity have shifted from those which are grounded in political considerations to those which are textually dispersed and function as a sign. However, this queering of lesbian meaning has not led to the annihilation of its political stance. Winterson's postmodern-lesbian and queer interpretations draw attention to the political implications of gender performance and transcendence even as they advocate a fluid lesbian identity. Thus, both critics who consider lesbian fiction to engage in the complexities of lesbian existence and critics who search in the text for a 'lesbian sensitivity' that queers the heterosexual matrix share a strong commitment to political reading and a belief in the subversive power of the lesbian text.
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 52 –66 (2014)More Less
Considerable theoretical and critical work has been done on the way British and American women poets re-vision (Rich 1976) male-centred myth. Some South African women poets have also used similar strategies. My article identifies a gap in the academy's reading of a significant, but somewhat neglected, body of poetry and begins to address this lack of scholarship. I argue that South African women poets use their art to re-vision some of the central constructs of patriarchal mythology, including the association of women with the body and the irrational, and men with the mind and logic. These poems function on two levels: They demonstrate that the constructs they subvert are artificial; and they create new and empowering narratives for women in order to contribute to the reimagining of gender relations.
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 67 –83 (2014)More Less
Children who grow up not knowing their biological fathers blame their mothers for being secretive and alienating them from their fathers. Research on undisclosed fathers has not shed light on why mothers would not inform the children of their fathers' identities. This study, set in South Africa, explored maternal non-disclosure with the specific aim of creating an understanding of women's motivations for withholding information or not introducing a child to his/her father. The research employed an exploratory qualitative approach and used an interpretive approach to garner from narratives of mothers and guardians their experiences of living with non-disclosure. Eight, one-on-one in-depth interviews were conducted with participants aged 33 to 60. Through thematic analysis, women's first-hand accounts could be described and the essence of the phenomenon for all the participants collated. The findings suggest a supposition that there were broader challenges for mothers on how to go about the disclosure in terms of what to say to the child, and at what age it would be appropriate to start discussing the father. The fleeting discussions that did at times occur around the father indicate that disclosure is not a static event, but rather a fluid and an ongoing process. Based on the findings of our research this article provides insight into supportive strategies that may be devised to aid mothers who wish to disclose.
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 84 –97 (2014)More Less
The number of women immigrating to Spain in search of a better life has increased in recent years. However, very few news items pay attention to the reasons why they emigrate. A corpus of 30 pieces of news related to immigrant women was collected from February 2012 to April 2013 from the digital version of the main Spanish newspapers El País, El Mundo and ABC. The main hypotheses in this research are: Immigrant women are not very visible in the Spanish press; they are mainly represented as vulnerable and as victims; and they are normally connected to social problems. To confirm or to disprove said hypotheses, this article employs critical discourse analysis, including visual grammar, to analyse the main topics of the pieces of news dealing with immigrant women, and the main linguistic and visual characteristics used to describe them. It transpires that immigrant women are portrayed in the Spanish press as dependent, passive and confined to their homes. Moreover, the majority of the articles on immigrant women associated them with prostitution. The partial representation of immigrant women observed in the corpus of examples does not favour the development of a society established on principles of democracy and equality. In this sense, it is necessary to rethink the depiction of immigrant women in the press, in order to question their role in modern-day migratory movements.
Author Amritesh SinghSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 98 –110 (2014)More Less
This article juxtaposes the letters written by Elizabeth I to her last suitor, Francis, Duke of Anjou, with John Stubbs' virulent tract The discoverie of a gaping gulf (1578) that opposed the match to propose that Elizabeth I challenged her belligerent male subjects in a game of semiotic control. I suggest that Elizabeth I fashioned her own 'queendom' - a discursive realm that complemented her political kingdom - where she attempted to formulate a code of masculinity that would celebrate gynaecocracy and facilitate a consummation of her sexuality. I show how, in her correspondence with Anjou, Elizabeth I sought to create a model husband for herself who would be sympathetic and subordinate to her political authority. I tease out the playful intercourse between the amorous and the political in Elizabeth I's language to argue that she insisted on a unique union of her two bodies (the male body politic and the female body natura) which has largely gone unnoticed in current scholarship. Through a close engagement with Elizabethan rhetorical practices, this article aims to inspire a more nuanced reading of gendered identities in early modern England.
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 111 –113 (2014)More Less
Have we entered the era of the 'post gay'? Has the 'original' gay identity category been watered down by modernity? With the spectrum of sexual identities broadening and expanding at an undeniably significant rate, has 'gay' been diluted to a generic and amorphous category which is making the construction and maintenance of sexual identity difficult 'hard labour'? (p. 3). These questions provided the impetus for the research presented in Changing gay male identities, which explores the challenges involved in constructing and maintaining personal and sexual identities through the narratives of 21 gay men in England and Scotland.
Source: Gender Questions 2, pp 114 –115 (2014)More Less
In Gender: The basics, Hilary M. Lips explores the influence of cultural, historical, biological, psychological and economic factors on the construction of gender. Locating her research in the widely held perspective that gender is dependent on and determined by more than merely biological sex, Lips considers the interaction between gender and a variety of concepts or areas, including
- relationships, intimacy and concepts of sexuality
- the workplace and labour markets
- gender-related violence and war
- public health, poverty and development
- the aging process.
Author Hannelie WoodSource: Gender Questions 2 (2014)More Less
Renzetti is a well-known and respected feminist theorist with a passion for theoretical approaches and positions pertaining to feminist criminology. She specialises in, and teaches, sociology of gender, violence in intimate relationships, sociology of law and criminology, and marriage, families and intimate relationships. Professor of Sociology at the University of Kentucky and Chair of the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women, she is, amongst others, co-editor of the Interpersonal violence book series for Oxford University Press, and the editor of the Gender, crime and law book series for Northeastern University Press.
Feminist theory reader: Local and global perspectives, Carole R. McCann and Seung-kyung Kim (Eds.) : book reviewSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 117 –119 (2014)More Less
What most contemporary theorists know as 'gender theory' has its roots in feminist theory, and that, in turn, arises from a 'disobedient epistemology' - from looking at phenomena through lenses that do not permit one to see only expected or conventional patterns of meaning. Feminist epistemology and theory is one such divergent view of reality in its focus on the disregarded categories of women and gender. There is a long and honourable tradition of feminist thinking and theorising which refuses to see society and the world through patriarchal eyes, and which interrogates relations of gender and power in society, in the academy and in discourse. This tradition is represented in Carole McCann and Seung-kyung Kim's Feminist theory reader: Local and global perspectives.
Asexualities: Feminist and queer perspectives, Karli June Cerankowski and Megan Milks (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Andy CarolinSource: Gender Questions 2, pp 120 –121 (2014)More Less
'What is so radical about not having sex?' This is the opening question posed by the editors in their introduction to this collection of essays. Asexualities explores the political, personal, social and cultural discourses that circulate around persons who have little or no desire for sex. Significantly, the contributors argue, this is different from those persons who choose to remain celibate (despite their desire) for moral, religious or other reasons. The book resists the pervasive pathologisation of such persons and instead tends to mobilise asexuality as a sexual orientation and collective political identity. This is similar, in many respects, to the advances made by same-sex activists over the past four decades. The contributors are similarly sceptical of arguments that locate non-normative (a)sexualities as disorders in need of psychiatric intervention.
Call for papers
Institute for Gender Studies One-Day Colloquium
7 September 2015Source: Gender Questions 2 (2014)More Less
Is gender still relevant in the 21st century? Have we entered a postfeminist, post-patriarchal, gender-equal era? Or is society as deeply divided on gender lines as in Victorian times?
Questions about the continued relevance of gender are at the core of Unisa's Institute for Gender Studies colloquium on the topic of "(Re)Thinking Gender".