A Critique of Modern Gender Studies

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james-hetterley/a-critique-of-modern-gend_b_1157948.html


Posted: 19/12/11

Gender, rather lifelessly, has been defined by the FAO as “the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material. Gender is not determined biologically…but constructed socially”. The beginning of all studies into gender, then, must also be a study of social relations.

All social relations existing in a hierarchal (therefore Capitalist) society are based around class.

Therefore, all existing genders come as a result of social perception, economic privilege or poverty, and even family history. In the same way that perception of the sexes (as de Beauvoir outlines in “Le deuxième sexe”) alters in different classes, as do the perceptions of different genders. Where the proletariat is more sexually and socially liberated, they are economically unfree; where the bourgeoisie is frigid and socially bound to conservative “order”, they are economically irrational. As a general rule, masculine-leaning genders have taken the power, feminine genders subordinated, and heterosexuality forced into the norm.

Where Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, she did not get to that position because she was a woman, but because she was masculine. Could you, though, imagine a feminine woman or a camp man becoming Prime Minister? We are defined nowadays not by our sex, but by our gender (or how society perceives our gender).

What this has lead to, then, is a heteronormative and patriarchal society where the great focus of most gender studies is centred around feminism. Even if they are the most oppressed of the two sexes, they are certainly also the most studied. Hardly a social science student can call themselves thus if their eyes haven’t graced over a copy of Le Deuxième Sexe or The Female Eunuch; indeed, even if the oppression of women hasn’t ended, the intrigue to define them is still a hot topic. But we must see a change in the academic sphere. In the same way that no gender should dominate because it makes society degenerate (look at our current world), the opposite gender should not dominate gender studies purely because it is oppressed. To perpetuate the gender binary is just as oppressive.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james-hetterley/a-critique-of-modern-gend_b_1157948.html

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